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How to Look Unbelievably Chic While Studying Abroad

You did it: you applied, you got in, and now you’re jetting off to somewhere fabulous. You picture tasseled sundresses in Barcelona, sleek separates in London, chic knitwear under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In reality, you have one suitcase and you still need to pack all your shoes. Before you panic, read our definitive guide for a wardrobe that is functional, transitional, and still oh-so chic.

The Basics—what you really need to bring

T-shirts in white, gray, and black will make the perfect transition pieces: tucked into jeans and skirts or layered under sweaters. Heading to warmer climes? Throw two layering tanks into the mix.

You only really need two pairs of jeans, in blue and black. Add one skirt that you can dress up or down, and maybe a pair of structured-but-slouchy trousers. We’d also bring along a pair of leggings to travel in, but note that leggings are not usually considered pants outside of L.A. (shocking, I know).

Wherever you’re traveling to, you will probably be doing a lot of walking. Pack at least one pair of cute, comfy sneakers for stomping around in. Throw in a sweet pair of flats to go with dressier outfits.

A half-tucked tee with slouchy trousers and classic ballet flats? You might as well just start calling me Mademoiselle.

The Transition Team

Whether you’re headed abroad for the fall or spring, chances are you’ll encounter your fair share of warm and cold weather. Pack one lightweight sweater for warmer days and a thick, cozy knit in cream or gray for braving the cold. Don’t forget two or three long sleeve shirts to layer underneath when temps really start to drop.

Pick your favorite two dresses: bonus points if you can wear them with tights, and extra superstar brownie points if you can layer them under a sweater. A straight slip dress in a sturdy fabric checks off all boxes.

Bring one jacket you can wear over anything and keeps you warm below 60 degrees. Pick one other that’s a bit more polished, like a cool leather moto jacket or wool coat.

Of course, adjust this list based on the climate of your destination. The point is to, wherever possible, pack pieces that can pull double duty and will be wearable the entire time you’re abroad.

The Extras—what you may not need but cannot leave behind

If you are under 21, being abroad will be the first time you can go out like a bonafide Adult. We like silky tanks for going out–they look great under a jacket or on their own.

In terms of accessories, we like to travel with a handful of jewelry that are dainty enough for every day but still feel special: gold rings, classic studs, and that wear-everywhere bracelet.

And wear a scarf on the plane! It will save you space in your luggage and can double as a blanket once you reach cruising altitude.

To Bring or to Buy

We know what you’re thinking. This list is tiny! You’re basically moving to another country for six months. You cannot survive on three t-shirts and two pairs of pants.

But don’t forget: a new country means new shopping. How super cool will it be to say, “Oh, I picked them up in Scotland” when somebody compliments your awesome new boots? You packed all the basics, so here’s the rule of thumb: pick pieces that feel special and be adventurous! You’re in a new country and about to start this amazing chapter in your life. Why not top it off with a beret?

Photos courtesy of: Vanessa Jackman, Blame It On Fashion, The Northern Light, Athens Street Style, Mija

Victoria is a Nor-Cal transplant and fourth-year Biochemistry major at UCLA. She hopes to one day have marble kitchen countertops, own the perfect slouchy sweater, and be the kind of doctor who handpicks ornaments when she decorates her office for Christmas. 
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