As many of you know, I’ll be spending my spring semester in the Netherlands. It’s going to be an amazing trip, but before I get there I have an enormous challenge to overcome: packing. That’s right, one, fifty-pounds-or-less suitcase for three long months. For someone who needs two whole closets just to house her shoes, this has proved to be an immense struggle. As my friend Anna said, “I’m struggling to figure out what to pack and what’s just gonna be dead, sparkly weight.”
In my struggle to find harmony between practicality and my personal style, I learned a few things.
1. Sacrifices Must Be Made
This is a good representation of the kind of tops I’m bringing with me. As you can see, there isn’t a lot of color in this selection. I tried to pick mostly knit basics in neutral colors that I knew I’d be able to mix and match easily to create new outfits. Most of my colorful, chiffon tops I’m leaving behind because they’ll wrinkle easily and are harder to style in new ways. Sacrifices to practicality, like this one, have been essential during my packing process in preventing me from bringing unnecessary items. If I can’t think of more than three different ways to wear an item, I won’t bring it.
2. Stay True to Your Style
When I first started packing I assumed this trip would mean I had to give up all sense of personal style. I was envisioning long underwear, sneakers, and puffy jackets. But I realized my sense of style is too important for me to give up during this trip. Certainly it will have to be altered, but not discarded. If I had worn jeans, sneakers, and puffy jackets, I would have been completely miserable the entire time. Bringing dresses, skirts, tights, and other elements of my style is essential to me feeling good and having a good time. Compromising is necessary but it’s important to keep in mind what will make you happy as well as what will be practical.
3. Start at the Beginning
Black peplum skirt seen here.
The first thing I did when starting to pack was come up with an image of what I wanted to look like while I was in Europe. What I wear can dramatically change how I feel and how I approach my day, so I knew I wanted to look put together. But I also knew I would be traveling a lot, walking on a lot of cobblestones, and experiencing all sorts of different weather conditions. Once I came up with the image I wanted, I worked on creating it in a way that would still be practical. Starting with an idea of what I wanted to look like meant I had something to refer back to. I could look at a piece of clothing and think “does this fit my vision?” and if I didn’t then I wouldn’t pack it.