A Fashion Girl's Guide to Packing for Study Abroad

"How on earth are you going to pack for abroad?" My aunt asks, blinking with wild curiosity across the dinner table. She's not the first to ask this. I've been asked this question probably a hundred times since I officially committed. 

I answer something along the lines of, "we'll cross that bridge when we get there". I actually haven't given much thought to packing yet, mostly just logistical things. I know my suitcase allowance, I know the weight limits, I know the practical constraints... yada yada yada. But now I'm actually starting to fret about it, considering this is a whole year of outfits. Anyway, since some friends asked, I figured I'd put together a list of my dream study abroad wardrobe, plus some general packing tips. Inspo time.

This is like a transition wardrobe. You'll notice I don't include heavy winter coats, nor do I include swimsuits and rompers, though I firmly believe everyone should bring these. Also, as the title suggests, this list is not an "essentials" packing list, per se. You can find those all over Google. Heck, you could probably even write that list yourself. This list has slightly different goals: 1) How to pack in such a way that you can maybe blend in with Europeans (assuming you're studying abroad in Europe... packing for elsewhere is probably a different ballgame), and 2) pack a fun and flirty wardrobe that can still be versatile and doesn't make you feel boring. 

First thing's first: Condense. Common sense, I know. I'm not trying to tell you to condense for the sake of saving space, even though that's true. I'm telling you this because trends abroad are not the same as trends in America. Trust me on this one. When I studied in Norway I packed like the worst clothes ever. I packed all these preppy things, like chino pants and Sperry's (for shame!). I got there and didn't wear these things once. You just look extremely out of place and very touristy. That's not totally a bad thing but it's also not the most comfortable feeling. So, condense with the expectation that you will observe new trends and therefore be buying some new clothing. You don't need to ball out and flip your wardrobe, you just need to be smart. Buy key pieces, or go to stores like Zara (part of Zara's business model is that the styles sold vary by location... super cool) where the fast trends are cheapest. For example, buy a nice pair of sandals that go with everything, and then wear them with everything. Buy layers that can be mixed and matched... etc. 

Second: Study up. Research bloggers from your area, do quick Google searches... do what you gotta do. This might be a bit overboard but can help you gauge what people are wearing. Some quick, general things that come to my mind: Most Europeans aren't wearing the knee-high riding boots anymore. Or maybe don't bring the obnoxious t-shirts that you received from winning a soccer tournament or for participating in the marching band (unless you're using them for workout shirts maybe?). Returning to the preppy thing... As far as I know, the type of preppy you're envisioning doesn't really exist in Europe. I mean, it does to some degree I would imagine, but the whole Kate Spade Tory Burch Jack Rogers stuff really only exists here. 

Finally: Don't stress it too much. That probably sounds like a contradictory statement when I'm sitting here telling you to basically plan out every little detail. I mean, there is absolutely no way you can pack perfectly, that you can predict everything... etc. In the 4 or however many months you'll be there, there will certainly be unexpected weather or some unexpected event you got invited to where you'll need X, Y or Z. So just pack what you think is sufficient and let the rest unfold. You will likely end up buying stuff, but they'll probably be really cool and unique pieces and that's important when traveling. Lock the essentials down first. 

Okay so here we go. These are pieces I've pulled from the internet that are serving as my packing inspiration.