I completely over packed for our year abroad. Traveling with those 5 extra-large suitcases over here was a little embarrassing in hindsight. They wouldn't fit on the tiny elevator in Paris our first week so Doug had to hike them one at a time up the 5 flights of stairs to our top floor apartment. The people on our train out into the country had to help us get them all off the train just in time before the train took off for it's next stop. The conductor was blowing his whistle and the people stepping off the train for a smoke literally helped throw them off to us on the platform. I tried to justify it, "we're going to be living here for a year!" They seemed unconvinced and now after my year of "becoming French" I completely get it. In Europe, the cars are tiny, city living is tight and travel is made so much more easy with the wonderful train system. "Easy" only if you pack light. Elevators are rare so it's best to be able to easily carry your load.
I think most Europeans buy just a few nice staples each season and value quality over quantity. Perhaps, they don't have much of a choice depending on their closet size or if they even have a closet. I totally respect this way of living and plan to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle for our family when we return. With that said, if I could choose just one purse/bag to have this summer instead of the rotating 10 or so I have now (so unnecessary!) I'm going for #5 above. What about you?