Goodbye Munich: A Travel Wardrobe Recap

June 21st, 2010 § 19 comments

I’m now at the final countdown of my time in Germany. Over the course of this past year, I have received several questions regarding my packing to return home and my wardrobe changes after being here in general, so I will attempt to answer those in this recap of my travel wardrobe for this year abroad…

I can manage to take everything I’ve acquired back home with me because I’ve already sent my parents and my husband off with a load of clothes and books each (as they were just here visiting). I was determined not to mail anything and between their carrying help and my efforts to not acquire too many things this year, I will be returning with the same amount of luggage that I came with: two suitcases and one carry-on.

In terms of clothing purchases this year – I tried to curb my spending knowing full well that I would have to take everything back with me in limited luggage space. But I still couldn’t resist a few shopping trips here or there and I tried to make the most of my student budget by getting most of my souvenirs at thrift stores and consignment shops.

Thrifting allowed me to score a few really unique pieces, like this vintage Mod dress or this brocade blazer. It also made for some uniquely Bavarian acquisitions, like this little boy’s Tracht vest and a full Dirndl skirt yet to be revealed, at more affordable prices.

Some thrift finds were bought for their low price tag yet high potential; an eyelet top got a sleeve make-over, a $2.50 dress found in Romania got a good few inches chopped off and is now ready for wear, and one German army shirt got a complete overhaul in an attempt to flex some DIY muscles.

In addition to perusing thrift stores and the occasional fea market, I did buy a couple of new things this year. Most notably, my S. Oliver skinny jeans which have become my new BFF. Some things are just worth the extra buck. And like E. did during her pregnancy, I tried to make the most out of my few pairs of jeans that I had in circulation by changing their look with cuffing, rolling, tucking, or other similar tricks…

I also made a pair of black capris go all-season by tucking them into knee-socks come winter and wearing them with boots…

Other style-related results from a year spent in Germany – I branched out and tried a few new looks. I took comfort in being away from campus and from a very professional environment and experimented with more casual and out-of-my-comfort-zone styles. And I realized that I can do much more with so much less. Layering and creative remixing went a long way in making my limited wardrobe feel a lot more comprehensive. Here’s just an example using my brown patterned jersey dress…

This was also the case when it came to dressing up. I wore the same black dress and gray wedges all four times that I attended the opera here and just varied the look by pairing them with different accessories and color schemes…

Sure, there were moments when I felt like a pair of shoes or a top I’d left back home would have been a more fitting item for an outfit in question. (Several readers commented that the gray wedges didn’t quite suit my black dress + orange pashmina opera look and I would certainly agree). And had I been at home, I likely would have paired a pair of black heels with the black and orange look seen above. But I brought shoes and garments that would be the most versatile and that lent themselves to the most mixing possible, so a pair of heels that would have only come out for a few select events were not worth the suitcase space. And ultimately … does it really matter? Dare I say it? …There are worse things than not having the perfect pair of shoes to go with an evening dress.

So that is my ‘year abroad recap’ in a nutshell. Given that I already sent a good amount of my stuff home and that it’s raining and dreary here, I think it’s safe to say that I will continue to toss on jeans, some kind of top, and non-fussy flats each day. So I will spare you the photographic repetition and will likely recommence posting once I am back in sunnier places with a heftier wardrobe at my disposal. Until then, I’ll be enjoying my last few days here in gorgeous Munich, sadly saying my goodbyes, and getting ready for the next stage in my life. And it’s bound to bring new adventures and changes, so stay tuned! S.

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§ 19 Responses to Goodbye Munich: A Travel Wardrobe Recap"

  1. Goannatree says:

    Thanks for the posts from munich and the advice on travel abroad. I going to be in Paris for the month of August and I’m already contemplating my wardrobe choices and the small amount on luggage i can take!

  2. Liz Rosas says:

    Even just being gone for a month and living out of one suitcase I was able to use some of these tricks too, I’ll tell you that coming home is super exciting because you realize your know limitless options. But I loved knowing that I could wear the same things over and it didn’t really matter. I want to buy less things because I know that quantity isn’t that important in style! You really showcased that!

  3. EE K says:

    You have been so creative in your wardrobe this past year! I’ve been very inspired :)

  4. cindy says:

    Great recap! I don’t know if you saw it while abroad, but NYT had this great slide show a bit back: How to back for 10 days travel in a carry on.

    Save travels.

  5. EmilyKennedy says:

    I have LOVED some of the things you’ve thrifted while in Germany. I have also been consistently inspired by your style, even though you’re working from a limited palette. It never seems that limited! You always look fabulous!

  6. Kelly K says:

    Great post and I’m so inspired by all your remixed outfits! I think being truly fashionable requires being creative and courageous, sometimes I may make some missteps, but that’s all how a person finds their personal style and what works for them. I think all of your looks are an A+!

  7. I’ve really loved seeing all the ways you’ve combined and recombined your wardrobe, and how you carefully selected items that allowed you the greatest potential. It’s great inspiration every time I find myself staring at a closet full of clothes thinking I have nothing to wear!

  8. S@sha says:

    Outfits schmoutfits (j/k of course, I totally enjoy your outfits or else I wouldn’t keep reading!)– did you take that photo of the train station? I love that station! I’ve never been there, but a few years ago I was doing design inspiration research on transportation stops for work and came across images of that station. Light, bright, colorful and modern. I wish we had stations like that where I live. I also love the one with the giant Ingo Mauer light fixtures, which I believe is also in Munich.

  9. Ris says:

    This is a great recap. You’ve done so much with a limited wardrobe–I’m impressed! Are you super excited to get home and go “shopping” in your closet and experiment with clothes you haven’t worn in forever?

  10. Erin says:

    Hi, S.! Congrats on finishing your study abroad year. I hope it was a success! Thanks for sharing macro looks from your micro wardrobe. You inspired me to do more with less — and to believe that it’s OK to have some non sequitur moments from time to time. (Cos matching can be a real drag, you know? Embrace your inner 5-year-old!) Safe travels home!

  11. Frances Joy says:

    This was great! I’m moving overseas for three years, and I’m already thinking about how to pare down my wardrobe this way. It was helpful to see a recap of your packing and remixing.

  12. jentine says:

    High fives for keeping it interesting all year round with such a limited wardrobe… You are a remix/packing hero!

  13. Vanessa says:

    I second jentine’s comment– perfectly said!

  14. Mari says:

    Hope you had a nice time here in Bavaria!
    And, well, sorry for the bad weather we had here for the last months. I never remember a spring with sooo much rain here! It was terrible!

  15. Brittany says:

    I’ve recently moved to Europe to be an aupair and travel for a year and have read all of your travel / packing / luggage posts and would like to thank you for taking the time to post so detailed! I even added my own packing post on my blog before I came in hopes that it will help others moving away for a year. Good luck moving back to the states!

    Thanks again!


  16. Linda says:

    Thanks, S! I’ve really enjoyed following your year.

  17. You have become a re-mix rockstar for sure, S! I’ve enjoyed following your style evolution this year while you’ve been abroad and working with limited wardrobe choices. I’ll be interested to see what boundaries you push next year. I assume you’ll be back on campus and in the classroom…?

  18. I particularly love your perspective on selecting items for the greatest versatility. I think sometimes we get caught up in the search for the perfect, the just-so, and drown in redundancy as a result. You’ve demonstrated beautifully that it is possible to create an interesting, varied wardrobe with a limited number of pieces.

    Good luck on your travels back to the States!

  19. Meghan says:

    Thank you, so so much for this! I’m leaving next february to live in Germany for three months, and this is exactly what I needed! I cannot thank you enough. Now, I’m going to go find the posts while you were actually there, and stalk to my heart’s content. Seriously, thanks a million!

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