As I’m starting packing for my semester abroad and trying to fit my entire life into 2 suitcases, I’ve realized that I truly need to condense and limit myself to only essential pieces. I keep asking myself, “How is that possible when *EVERY* item in my closet is totally an essential?” And while it may seem like that, there is a definite turning point when lugging around 2 huge bags down the stairs and onto the metro – all while crossing fingers hoping that I don’t get mugged.

A couple of years ago while traveling from Barcelona to Edinburgh and then to places in Switzerland, I realized how crucial it was to pack pieces that are good for layering and that can be mixed and matched with many outfits. This means comfortable/fashionable shoes (I prefer ankle boots), lots of black (tees, dress), a denim jacket of sorts, some striped top, a scarf that goes with everything, a couple pairs of jeans and maybe a few more *fun* items to throw into the mix.

This summer, as I’ve been gearing up for the semester and trying to plan my wardrobe accordingly – I discovered Simons brand for a bunch of stylish clothing options with really affordable pricing. Completely fell in love with their cardigans and structured jackets – PERFECT for Paris. Swoon.

My number one place to shop for jeans is GAP. Several years ago, I would’ve NEVER imagined that I’d say that as I had a big thing for Hudson/Paige and other designer jeans. However, there is a GAP store right by my family’s favorite Mexican restaurant and my mom and I decided to pop in one night when the wait for a table was long. Little did I know that I would find the dream pair of boyfriend jeans. Haven’t gone anywhere else for jeans since.


My all time favorite tanks are the LA Nite tank by Free People. In my eyes, Free People can do no wrong and anything they touch turns to pure gold…

Anywho, here’s a list of what I plan to pack for my fall semester abroad in Paris:

-1 Black Skinny Jeans
-1 Boyfriend Jeans
-1 Dark Denim Skinny Jeans
-1 other Jeans
-1 pair super rad bell bottoms

-1 Black Leather Skirt (a little above the knee)
-1 Long Printed Pattern Skirt (dark colors)

-White Tank
-Black Tank
-2 camisoles, black and white
-Well fitted Black Tee to be paired with jeans
-Well fitted Black Dressier Blouse
-Long Sleeve White Blouse

-Taupe Ankle Boots
-Leopard Ankle Boots
-Chelsea Boots
-Knee High Boots
-Black Ankle Booties (heeled)
-Party Shoes (that YOU CAN walk in – think cobblestone)
-Nike Running Shoes

-2 pairs UnderArmour long leggings
-2 sports bras
-2 workout shirts (that could double for sleep)

-Black Cardigan
-Oatmeal Cardigan
-Chunky Gray Sweater
-Black & White Striped Knit
-Long Black Knit
-Leather Jacket
-1 Peacoat
-Denim Jacket

-1 Black Tank Maxi (great for layering/doubling as a skirt)
-3-4 Sweet Vintage Dresses
-1 Black Party Dress (perfect for going out or under a kimono/chunky sweater)

-Tights (1-2 pairs, can buy more as they rip)
-Socks (maybe 10-15 pairs)
-Black Knit Scarf
-2 pairs of pajamas
-Bathing suit (depending on location/time of year)
-Floppy Hat

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UPDATE: Now a couple days later, I had created this list prior to packing and began with those basics. I dedicated one suitcase solely to these items. I’ve found that the best way to cram as much stuff into a suitcase, and stay *relatively* organized, is to roll each item and just fill it up! Although this is a great tactic for fitting all sorts of goodies, this can also mean a more densely packed bag… which in turn means going through the hassle of transferring items at the check-in line at the airport. AHEM, me, this morning. Just something to be mindful of!

ALSO, in talking with my aunt about her experiences studying abroad at multiple locations, she highly suggested packing as much underwear as possible. Her reasoning was that she would rather spend money + time on other activities than laundry… Made total sense to me. This may be a bit excessive, but 40 pairs is enough, right? Haha at that count I may only have to do laundry 3-5 times while abroad! Gross or genius?

The second suitcase that I packed began primarily with a few kimonos that I wanted to include in my wardrobe – adding some color and life. Then began the addition of coats and dresses and more blouses. Finally I figured I had more than enough clothes (I had been warned by a friend that just got back from studying/traveling for 8 months and living out of ONE suitcase that she now wants to burn all of her clothes and never wear them again – so I wanted OPTIONS.)

-1 bottle shampoo + conditioner (this you can always get over there, but as I was traveling to Switzerland prior to study abroad destination, I wanted to have it on hand)
-2 sticks deodorant (once again, can buy more once over there – but I’m very particular about the scent/brand due to sensitive skin)
+ 1 more deodorant for purse!
-Lotion for purse
-Lotion for room/makeup/after shower
-3-4 razors, depending on how often you change them out
-Big toothpaste + 2 little toothpaste bottles for weekend outings to other countries
-Body Wash
-Powder compact for bag
-Brush (and maybe also one for bag)
-Standard makeup
-Sunscreen (one big bottle + 1 little for bag)
*In the case that you need a towel/shower shoes – I’d suggest to buy them there, no need for extra weight
-Face Wash

-Super Glue (because you never know when you might need it)
-Mini Sewing Kit (basic needle/thread in case a button falls off or a shirt gets a hole)
-Pair of Headphones
-Notepad/diary/sketchbook + pens and pencils
-Several copies of passport (just in case)
-A sturdy bag/purse that you can zip up tightly

For jewelry – I packed ALL of it in my carry on bag – while it may not be the wisest to bring your good jewelry with you, I had to bring my supply of turquoise rings and funky necklaces. Those can make any outfit have a different vibe and help you to not get sick of your wardrobe without having to go out and purchase more items.

The travel series will continue with finding the best service for calling/texting with a VERIZON iPHONE 5s. Looking into creating a French bank account and then starting to book tickets and excursions all over Europe!

Ode to LA