foundations: jeans and a tee

1. striped tee | club monaco
3. mini gold necklace | esdesigns
5. pumps | HOPE stockholm

'jeans and a tee' is almost a cultural code phrase that runs the gamut of meanings. it is often used as a visual shorthand on invitations or work memos to discourage 'sloppy' dressing. (ok, so the club monaco tee has a couple of holes in it now, but i'll keep wearing it as long as it holds up...) for me, 'jeans and a tee' also happens to represent the simplest form of minimalist style. i consider this my grown-up uniform for most days.

i've been thinking a lot lately about how to distill my style into a compact, edited collection because i will be going abroad for a year starting this fall. i'll be in a relatively similar climate to where i live now, so luckily there won't be any extreme weather needs or limitations. nonetheless, packing a wardrobe for a year seems like such a daunting task! for the most part, though, i'm looking forward to tackling this now that i've managed to pare down my previously overflowing closet to the key foundation pieces. i'll be posting more about this in the weeks to come, and everything i'm wearing today will definitely be on my packing list.

have you ever had to pack for a year abroad? what were some of your wardrobe essentials?


  1. really fantastic outfit there. It is indeed a grown up version of the jeans and tee. It's funny how some places still consider jeans too casual. For example, some club house restaurants will turn you away in jeans, although a tennis outfit is allowed. I'm really much more of a pants person, cropped or rolled hem pants to be exact, and I could live for a long time rotating between maybe three of them. Tops aren't quite so worked out! Very exciting about your year abroad!

  2. That's a nice, nonsloppy take on the t-shirt + jeans combination.

    Ahh I wish I could help! I'm going abroad for a semester in fall 2012, and I haven't even begun to think about packing my wardrobe. Good luck and I'll be reading the advice you get as well!

  3. Good luck packing for the year abroad! I have never had to do it myself, but I look forward to reading about your process :)

  4. Miss Sophie, good luck on your year abroad! I hope you'll be able to say where you're going eventually, but I know you'll be chic wherever you go.

  5. S: thanks! it is curious how jeans have transformed in the past 50 years. you wonder what Levi Strauss would think if he were around today...

    some of the more stressful parts of planning have been taken care of, so i'm on to the more fun and interesting tasks like wardrobe coordination :)

    PPP: that is a very astute point - so true! i am hoping to pack well enough so that some of my favorite wardrobe pieces will also help with any bouts of homesickness...

    Austere & Maja: thanks! it should be an adventure. looking forward to blogging about the planning and resuming when i get there!

    V: thank you! that's so sweet. will be posting more about my travel plans soon :)

  6. Wow, a year long trip abroad how exciting! The closest I've come to that is studying abroad for a semester while in college. I was not an over-packer then and I wouldn't say I'm one now. However, that certainly doesn't make the packing process easier. If I could give any general advice it would be to leave your suitcases half empty as you may feel inspired by your new location and may wish to begin a new evolution of your wardrobe there. Leaving room in your luggage allows more room for new purchases and saves money on shipping items home.

  7. I've never had a year abroad - although I think it would be difficult selecting what pieces you choose to take with you when you consider it's the same pieces over and over for a year. Jeans and tees always seem to be a good combo though

  8. i never had to pack for a year abroad, although i lived abroad and kept a closet in 2 countries, which proved to be a bad idea!
    you've elevated the "jeans and tee" look to serious chicness! i wish more people dressed like this. it's not hard. :)

  9. Can't wait to hear more about this year abroad - I love adventures, haha.

    I feel your uniform - to me there's nothing more beautiful. (Only your amazing Rag and Bone jacket makes it better.) I find it so timeless, and it's also something people can personalise to suit their style. And so confident.

    I've never been away from home longer than two months. You'll definitely end up shopping while you're away and that's ok because some of it will be meaningful souvenirs, so I find that it's best to only take your best friends in the closet - that great t-shirt, the great jacket, the go everywhere dress, one of pair very good formal shoes, one pair of very good casual shoes, one pair of jeans, and a great every day bag. Those are hard to live without.

    Everything else is practically something you can improvise at your destination. I guess you'll have to take into consideration weather, so maybe you'll need a coat?

    The things I always end up buying overseas - are scarves and shoes.

  10. Eva: great advice! i try to go by the 'half empty suitcase' rule when i travel. the only challenge this time is that i'll need to fit a 4-season rotation in my suitcases. i'm just a little concerned about space limitations as i have to squeeze my bulky winter parka in.

    jamie-lee: i'm thinking my strategy will be a modular one - picking the right pieces that can combine with others for a wide variety of options that won't get boring or overly repetitive.

    style odyssey: thanks! :) jeans and a tee sounds so cliched, but it really is a classic combo. your 2 closets sounds like lots of fun - i mean, if Anna Della Russo has a separate apartment for her clothes, why can't you have 2 closets, one for each country? ;)

    lin: it is a great blank canvas foundation, i agree. i think based on your last post, it really just comes down to confidence in what you want to wear. so often people will throw around bitchy little digs at one another because there's this massive, underlying insecurity about what it means to look turned out and 'better' than someone else. it's a shame that for a lot of people who don't 'get' fashion or style, that kind of insecure ignorance is what they think fashion is all about.

    i agree, the last time i traveled for a few weeks i found some beautifully inspiring shops. i'll have to plan a bit and set aside some room for those special pieces!

    will definitely need to bring my winter parka. that'll take up a bit of room in my suitcase, but hopefully not so much that i can't bring what i want to bring.

  11. How exciting about your year abroad! I was an au-pair in California for a year when I was 19, but I wouldn't bring what I did then, haha!
    I love your outfit, the fit of the jeans is great! The blazer is so nice too.

  12. A year abroad!!! How wonderful and exciting! Your jeans and tee are a great casual outfit. I really like the fit of the jeans- they're the perfect slouchy fit. I rarely wear jeans, but when I do I like to add a blazer- it feels more polished.

    I can't wait to hear about your adventure. Good luck packing.

  13. I went abroad twice; Packing actually wasn't that hard - though it might have simplified things that I was still a student: I just threw in the favourites of my basics and was ready to go: a trench, warm coat, my beloved knitwear, a couple of tees, jeans, boots, sandals, trainers (and of course some specifics to the stay like a laptop, dictionary etc). You'll be astounded how few things you really need. And if something is really missing you can always buy it there.

  14. I love your slouchy jeans--they bring such a nice feel to an outfit that might be a little too dressy otherwise for everyday (weird how it is, but many people immediately read blazer = dressy). Packing for a year is, in my humble opinion, kind of an impossible task to complete completely. Unexpected events will always pop up, which will always have you wishing you packed X thing that you decided not to bring at the last minute. I think it's really important to consider differences in lifestyle and clothing care between the States and abroad: will there be affordable dry cleaning? washing machine? detergent (and what kind)? cobbler that you can trust? a lot of walking? etc. Will there be air conditioning in summer? Heat in winter (and if there's someone controlling when the heat comes on, when does it come on)? What does 'office wear/professional wear' mean in that country? How much does it rain and what usually happens when it does (many places kind of just...turn into a lake, while others have a pretty good drainage system)?

    I think that things wear out faster when you travel just because you have fewer things to rotate than if you were at home--so I would seriously consider the possibility that the things you have in your suitcase might not come back with you in a state you would have liked! I certainly lost several pairs of shoes while in China, and I'm practically shoe-less now! 'What kind of wardrobe would I like to come back to' could certainly be an important consideration in that light!

  15. I just came back from studying abroad for a year in France. I spent my first semester in Nice and the second semester in Paris which had different climates.It's like going from LA to New York.

    I would say that packing for a year is hard, but not impossible. There is a lot of information on packing for France and Europe in general which made my life a lot easier.

    I packed a combination of items that were either basics, stuffed that I loved, or I would not mind leaving behind or throwing away. I wish I brought more stuff that would be suitable for a work atmosphere when I did my internship. I also did not bring my favorite pair of leather flip flops which was a mistake.

    I don't know where you are moving but I found that Paris and Nice had plenty of reputable tailors, dry-cleaners and cobblers who charged reasonable prices for their services.

    Like others have said, you can always buy what you need when you get there. If anything, this experience will make you an expert in packing for trips.:D

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your impending trip abroad!

  16. A year abroad sounds exciting!! I'm on a year (or two) abroad and I suggest making lists. Definitely jeans and tees were the foundation of my wardrobe. Unfortunately where I ended up going was not the same climate as to what I was used to so I ended up buying a little bit more clothes. In the end, enjoy the year! :)

  17. everyone: i just wanted to say that you guys are the best for offering up such thoughtful, witty, and useful comments!

    Garderoben: hehe, i remember the first time i had to pack for a summer abroad in college. thankfully i've gotten a lot better at packing since then ;)

    Lindsay K: thanks! :D i have seriously become addicted to my current elliott slouchy jeans. c/e really makes the best experimental fit jeans on the market.

    Sog19b: i agree - i'm thinking i'll base my packing around those foundation pieces.

    0000: excellent points! i think the biggest planning challenge will be to pack so that i'll have enough options without overpacking. i'm definitely going to leave some room for finding some special local finds when i get there. other than sandals, i have yet to really wear out a pair of shoes, though that will be put to the test this coming year! i hope that my beloved boots will be well worn but not worn out.

  18. lapetitelavande: thanks for your comment and for stopping by! :) i consider myself pretty expert in packing for short-term travel (ie: a weekend or 2 weeks), but the last time i packed for a long-term trip was several years ago, and my style has changed quite a bit since then. i'm hoping a semi-uniform approach will help me pack stylishly and efficiently this time!

    suzie wuzie: thank you! i'm definitely looking forward to exploring the local shops and designers when i get settled in :)

  19. i've done a year abroad as well - and i packed waaaay too much, especially considering how i bought quite a few things while i was there and had to schlep all that stuff back too. so my advice, pack light, pack favourites, go easy on basics
    that's one of the benefits of a shrinking world though ... wherever you go, chances are you will find what you need
    **this may be a bit TMI, but i am super picky about what i use during my period, and that is the one product it is hard to find abroad in the exact brand name and style you like. So, if you are picky as well, i would suggest stocking up on those

  20. Hello! Can you tell me the style and color of these c/e jeans? I have been searching but not finding the same look! Much thanks for any help and good luck in the fall! And with packing! :)

  21. anon: thanks! they're the 'awkward straight' jeans, in the regular blue wash.


feel free to join in on the conversation! :-) FYI, comment moderation is ON, so it may take a little while before yours appears. house rules: comments that are spam, rude, or otherwise unrelated to the post will be deleted.