A French Capsule Wardrobe Built With Advice From French Women
Effortless ensembles, perfectly imperfect looks. It’s no wonder French style is coveted far and wide. Creating a French capsule wardrobe offers très chic options without the hassle.
But what are French women actually wearing? And how can you capture the carefree style without looking like a beret-clad caricature? I (virtually) turned to real women living in France to find out.
What is a French capsule wardrobe?
A French capsule wardrobe is a curated collection of clothing items that reflect the timeless and chic style associated with French fashion.
In my view, the French sartorial sensibility lends itself well to capsule wardrobes.
Picking versatile pieces, prioritizing quality, and focusing on personal style rather than trends are all de rigueur in the capsule wardrobe community.
As I fell down the French fashion rabbit hole, I stumbled upon Camille Pidoux, a French model born and raised in Paris.
In a Parisian Vibe feature on French fashion, she shared that French women want to feel comfortable and look put together. They prioritize quality materials, weave in neutral colors, and reach for flattering pieces that are also functional.
With this in mind, let’s explore the French capsule wardrobe (and chic outfit ideas) below.
French Capsule Wardrobe: Summer Edition
Ruffled Linen Top
Cowl Neck Tank Top
French Capsule Wardrobe Outfits
French Wardrobe Capsule Essentials
To channel the carefree yet polished Parisian look, you’ll need some French wardrobe-essentials. Scroll on to find out what fashionable French women have in their closets.
Breton Striped Shirt
If it gives off a nautical vibe that’s no accident. It’s inspired by the historic French naval uniform and was ushered into mainstream fashion in 1917 by none other than Coco Chanel.
Why not have a chic nod to Fench history hanging in your closet?
White Button Down
Crisp, comfortable, and oh-so-versatile, the button-down shirt is a timeless staple that French women wear year-round.
Yanique of My Parisian Life calls the button-down an essential part of her work uniform. And she’s not alone in her affinity for the piece. Roam the streets of Paris and you’re sure to see women clad in this classic.
Functionality meets fashion in a well-constructed trench coat. French women layer a trench over jeans, dresses, and other ensembles to polish off a look.
Neutral-colored coats (think tan and black) are popular picks for French women, according to Victoria Petersen a Paris-based fashion blogger with impeccable style.
Neutral is a common color theme in a French capsule wardrobe and a cozy cardigan is no exception. This year-round staple is a perfect layering piece.
Beloved French brand Sezane once had a 10,000-person waitlist for its buttoned cardigan. So it’s safe to say this is a piece French women can’t live without.
Whether you reach for an oversized option or a perfectly tailored one, be sure to have a blazer in your capsule collection. This piece goes from day to night seamlessly. Plus, it allows you to create outfits that balance masculine and feminine elements.
Little Black Dress
If you’re a fellow fashion lover, you’ve likely heard of Camille Charriere, the half British half French fashion influencer known for her bold takes.
In a tour of her closet, Camille shared that she has “loads of little black dresses” from long to short to leather options. So add an LBD (or two) to your Parisian capsule wardrobe.
No French capsule wardrobe is complete without a healthy dose of denim. Just ask minimalist French-style goddess Leia Sfez.
While you’re sure to see an array of styles on the streets of Paris, straight-leg jeans are the most popular. This flattering cut lengthens the leg and can be easily dressed up or down.
You’ve likely seen your favorite French fashion icons sporting flats. While they are adorable, the shoes are equally practical.
Flats are a natural choice for the uneven cobblestone streets of Paris. And with so many chic options from two-toned ballerina flats to embellished designs, you can select a style that speaks to you.
A classic loafer is another timeless option that doesn’t skimp on style. They elevate a pair of jeans and look especially polished with wide-leg trousers.
For a slightly masculine edge, lug-sole loafers are ideal. Add a blazer and your dark academia aura is complete.
French Capsule Wardrobe: Winter Edition
Striped Breton Shirt
Silk Midi Skirt
Straight Leg Jeans
Wide Leg Trousers
Neutral Trench Coat
Knee High Boots
French Winter Capsule Wardrobe Outfits
How to Build a French Capsule Wardrobe
The trademark insouciance that characterizes French fashion can seem hard to attain. Read on for help mastering the understated yet polished look.
Learn What Flatters You
To build a dreamy French minimalist wardrobe, you need to understand what works well on your body.
What pieces flatter you and make you feel amazing to step out in? French women understand what suits them and create wardrobes around these silhouettes.
Choose Timeless Classics
As you probably noticed from the pieces above, timeless garments are the backbone of a French capsule wardrobe.
As style expert Marie-Anne Lecour shares, French women don’t get swept up in trends. Instead, they reach for pieces that they can wear for years or even decades.
So as you build a Parisian capsule wardrobe, prioritize items that have stood the test of time. A classic button-down shirt, a well-constructed trench coat, and a tailored pair of trousers all make the list.
Prioritize Quality Items
This advice applies to any capsule wardrobe but it’s especially highlighted in French fashion.
It’s better to have a small closet full of high-quality, durable pieces than it is to have an overflowing wardrobe of items that won’t be in good shape next season.
Don’t shy away from a smaller closet.
The 10-item wardrobe was popularized by Jenniffer Scott after she studied abroad in Paris and realized that her host family had small, carefully curated closets.
Add Dainty Accessories
The cherry on top? Personalized accessories. Despite the emphasis on classic pieces and neutral colors, you’ll notice that French women have distinct styles.
Accessories like sunglasses, hats, and jewelry offer a way to elevate outfits and imbue them with a personal touch. Scarves are particularly popular so you can add a few to your collection.
Psst. Browse the best capsule wardrobe accessories here to elevate your outfits.
Best Brands to Shop for French Fashion
Need to do a little shopping? These are some beloved brands that French women flock to when building their enviably chic closets.
Grace & Mila
Explore a full list of capsule wardrobe brands here for stateside shopping options.
Tips for Dressing Like a French Woman
Perhaps the best lessons in French fashion come by scanning the locals. But for a jet-lag-free education, read the tips below.
Mixing feminine and masculine with a silk dress and structured blazer.
Choose Practical Pieces
Parisian women need things that can go from day to night. Heels that can work on cobblestones, blazers that go from work to dinner. Function matters.
Pay Attention to Fit
One reason French women look so impeccable is that their clothes fit perfectly. So make sure your garments flatter your form. You can always take a piece to the tailor and ensure it’s not too loose, too long, etc.
Mix Masculine and Feminine
I love how French women play with balance in their outfits. Play around by pairing structured trousers with a dainty silk top or adding chunky boots and a blazer over a floral dress.
Wear Neutral Colors
Neutral colors dominate French outfits. This is not to say that French women don’t wear bright hues. They just tend to keep it to one or two colors per outfit.
Avoid Athletic Looks
In France, you won’t see women out and about in leggings or sports bras. Gym outfits stay in the gym and that’s that. So save your athleisure capsule wardrobe for another time.
Et Voilà! You’re ready to build the Parisian capsule wardrobe of your dreams. To make the creation easier, use this free wardrobe planner created by yours truly.