I’ve Assembled the Perfect French Capsule Wardrobe in Just 9 Pieces

I’ve spent much of my career trying to pinpoint what makes French style so alluring and covetable. Of course, a lot of what we consider to be French fashion is generalised. Basket bags (not unlike Tamara’s above), Breton-stripe tops and berets are all instantly associated with that Gallic-girl charm. But I’ve come to find that the clothes and accessories many French women gravitate towards are more subtle in their connotations.

While it can’t be said of all French dressers, there are many who subscribe to a classic aesthetic, wearing never-date items on rotation. I’ve been analysing these wares for some time and can now confidently proclaim that, to assemble your own stylish French capsule wardrobe, you’ll only need nine pieces.

As I said, these pieces aren’t necessarily what springs to mind when you think about French fashion. Still, I think that’s the secret to achieving that je ne sais quoi of dressing like a true Parisienne—not playing up to sartorial cliches and, instead, relying on everlasting staples that make it easy to look chic at all times. So without further ado, scroll on to see the nine pieces that make for a very refined French capsule wardrobe. 

Style Notes: If there’s one item that categorises French style without being glaringly obvious, it’s the cardigan—the chunkier the better. They’re often worn belted over dresses or loose with a vest and jeans, and you’re likely to see French women wearing more cardigans than any other knitwear. 

Style Notes: French women love their denim, and as we head into autumn, people like Camille Charriere and Anne Laure Mais are opting for elegant-looking jumpsuits as a fresh way to channel the heavy-duty fabric. 

Style Notes: It might have international appeal, but the silk slip skirt feels truly at home in France, where its often worn with boots and sweaters or leather outerwear. 

Style Notes: French women who reside in the north of the country enjoy a climate very similar to our own, which means they rely on coats just as much as we Brits do in the winter months. Most choose versatile silhouettes, such as the car coat, which is roomy enough to wear over chunky cardigans and multiple layers. 

Style Notes: Knee-high boots are a staple in any footwear collection. Though, no one seems to give them quite as much airtime as the French, who regularly pair them with miniskirts. J’adore. 

Style Notes: French style might be synonymous with milkmaid tops—white blouses with gathered necklines—but the top I always see French women wearing is simple button-down shirting in either cotton or silky fabrications. 

Style Notes: Part of the French fashion aesthetic is never looking like you’ve tried too hard with your outfit. Instead, the women I follow opt for throw-on floral dresses that they can dress up or down with jewellery, shoes and outerwear. 

Style Notes: Is it just me, or do you find it hard to leave the house with just one bag? I’ve been to Paris four times, and I always notice how French women seem to carry all their essentials in small shoulder bags. How they manage this is another question entirely. 

Style Notes: Although French women love their classic blue jeans, I’ve noticed that so many I follow wear leather trousers just as regularly. Keep your silhouette on the looser side to make them more relaxed and comfortable to wear—two factors French fashion types always prioritise. 

Next Up: 10 Timeless Items Every French Woman Has in Her Wardrobe