Siena pt. 2 - "What to Wear"

Monday, May 11, 2015

So…packing. Packing always stresses me out no matter my destination or length of stay. I kept trying to google “cute fashionable ways to pack for a summer in Europe” but no one who posted about packing ever went for the amount of time I am. All I read was “pack light” and “don’t take too much,” which isn’t helpful in the least. So I decided to create my own kind of capsule wardrobe and report back my results.

Let’s talk logistics for a second:

Destination: Italy + surrounding countries
Climate: So hot. So humid. Rain a possibility.
Length of stay: Roughly 3 months
Luggage: One 120L hiking backpack, a carry-on backpack and a tote

Here’s what I gathered from doing some research: most people going for the length I am recommended a backpack instead of a suitcase because it’s such a pain to carry/roll it over all the cobblestoned streets. I will be in two central locations for the majority of my trip but I was worried about lugging a suitcase around with me to different countries after my study abroad program so I went with a backpack.

I also realized pretty quickly there isn’t really a “cute” way to pack. I bought an adorable leather weekender to take with me as my carry-on, but after taking it with me to New York, I realized it was way too small for my needs and the straps made it difficult to carry. I settled for a purely utility black backpack with several compartments from Target and was able to shove all the crap I needed in it. I also plan to take it with me on my weekend trips to different locations around the country.

Pro tip: If you’re opting for a backpack over a suitcase make sure you know how many liters your backpack is. I was trying to use my brother’s hiking backpack and I could barely fit anything into it. I kept cutting down my clothes and toiletries till I had almost nothing before I realized it was a 65L bag. Realistically you’ll need one that’s at least 80L in order to pack what you need and leave space for souvenirs. I was able to snag one that was 120L and only filled it up halfway with all of my stuff. I’ll be able to carry all of my luggage myself and still have room for cute shoes and clothes I’ll inevitably purchase abroad.

Here’s the breakdown:

5 shirts
white tee (everlane) | navy tee (j crew)  | graphic tee (modcloth) | chambray button up (madewell) | gingham button up (zara)
5 dresses
white dress (madewell) | black shirtdress (madewell) | floral dress (madewell) | striped maxi (tj maxx) | wrap dress (h&m)
3 skirts
black pleated skirt (j crew) | striped mini (j crew) | hi-lo stripe (lollabella - which is out of business now *tear)
6 pieces of layerable outerwear
light rain jacket (everlane) | lightweight sweater (madewell) | cargo vest (BR) | practical jacket (wal-mart)
| denim jacket (UO) | light cardigan (j crew)
2 swimsuits
striped (Kate Spade) | black crochet (h&m)
2 pairs of leggings
zippered & plain black leggings (j crew)
3 pairs of shoes
trainers (nike) | sandals (target) | black flats (j crew)
A few simple accessories
leather tote (BR) | red handbag (madewell) | light scarf (BR) | boston baseball cap (I stole it from a boy)

Obviously I also packed undergarments and toiletries but I wasn't about to post those. And if you’re going for a shorter amount of time you won’t need a wardrobe this extensive but I felt like I could layer a lot with what I brought and with such a big bag, I really only filled about half of it with clothes and my toiletries took up about another quarter so that leaves me with a quarter for fun things.

I rolled everything and packed it tightly in different bags and it fit great. Here is a video of what I did; it’s so simple but seriously genius. I only watched him roll the first shirt. But it's the folding of the hem up so you can have it securely rolled that makes all the difference.

My smaller backpack is filled mostly with my gear and random things and my tote is to carry my daily items to and from school.

UPDATE: 5/10/15 I’ve been here for a few hours and let me just tell you having two bags is fine it’s just that I’m huge and bumbling and bumping into people and it’s a real balancing act trying to carry everything. I’ve got one bag on my back, a bag on my front and I’m lugging around a tote with a lot of stuff in it and I’m trying not to get anything stolen from me and it’s just a crapshoot. Suitcases aren’t much better, falling over the cobblestones and watching people deal with that has been interesting. But all I know is that my shoulders are going to be ripped after this trip. Probably literally. It is convenient not to have to worry about dragging something and carrying it up stairs etc., but I'm just not used to carrying so much weight all at once. So, be wary of that.

Anyway, I'll post a recap of what I wore each week. Things are going better life-wise. I still can't understand anything but I'll talk about my routine and school tomorrow. 


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  1. I'm happy for you but also confused? Why are you in Italy? Haha. Anyway, have so much fun!

    1. I'm doing two study abroad programs, one for 5 weeks in Siena and another for 5 weeks in Genoa. I also am traveling after for a few weeks!

  2. I love this. For some reason your post don't show up in my Bloglovin, and then a random one will pop up (like this one). Then when I go to check it out I realize I haven't seen 3 of the previous posts. It's a joy! Hope you're having a good time! I love the European culture. I visit my dad in Latvia when time and money allows, and each time I go I realize that it's a totally different world! So I totally know what you mean!

    1. I've been having trouble with connecting to Bloglovin' even before I left. :( Sorry! I'm glad you still read my blog though. I am enjoying the culture a little more now, it was definitely a shock the first day. The buildings and people are so beautiful!


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