Relish in the lush college town’s nonconformist, yet stylish vibe.
By Todd Plummer
Photography by Beth Schneck
People come to New Paltz to reinvent themselves. It’s why the French Huguenots settled there in 1678. It’s why students go there to study at the State University of New York. And it’s why outdoors lovers, artists and everyone seeking a quieter pace of life relocate to this idyllic village.
New Paltz is a completely different vibe from the art galleries of Beacon or the see-and-be-seen verve of Hudson, and a lot of what you encounter here has to do with the town’s idyllic surroundings. New Paltz sits surrounded by lush forests, secluded hiking trails and some of Ulster County’s most dramatic mountains and ridges, making it a picture-perfect playground for nature lovers.
With such a vivid history and rich landscape, the energy here’s an eclectic mix that represents a little bit of everything the region has to offer. Sleek city dwellers on weekend escapes wander around the historic 17th century structures that line the aptly named Huguenot Street. Flannel-clad college students linger on downtown corners pouting over cappuccinos. Rugged rock climbers pass through on their way to or from the nearby Shawangunk Ridge, an iconic climbing spot. And on weekends, you can spot them all gathering for brunch at The Parish Restaurant & Bar, or downing craft beers at Yard Owl Craft Brewery.
Whoever they are and wherever they’re going, the people here dress exactly how they want to. The style in New Paltz is an offbeat, anything-goes, come-as-you-are mix of high and low, at the intersection of cottage couture and rugged outdoorsiness. Vintage pieces are worn with fleece jackets, and well-worn boots and gloves look like they’ve been around the block several times over.
Fashion in New Paltz serves its purpose. There’s a sense that people here actually live in their clothes—they aren’t just putting them on for the sake of it. Nobody in this town’s yearning to conform or fit in—and that’s precisely how they like it.