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17 Items You Need for Your Classic French Capsule Wardrobe

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Many women desire to look as effortlessly chic as French women. But for some reason, they think that it’s unattainable just because they don’t live in Paris. I’ll let you in on a little secret: anyone can achieve French style! The French wardrobe philosophy can be summed up like this: fewer items, quality basics, and classic pieces.

Instead of focusing on the latest trends, focus on your versatile pieces instead! French girls have mastered the art of wearing basics and with a few small tweaks, can make something as simple as blue jeans look stunningly chic and fit seamlessly into their signature style. So you may be wondering what basics you even need to emulate this coveted look. This post will cover the 17 items you need to get started with your classic French capsule wardrobe!

french capsule wardrobe
Musier Paris

Why create your own classic French capsule wardrobe

Before we dive into the essential items, let’s first start with why you should aim to build your wardrobe this way.

How does it sound to spend less time getting ready in the morning without sacrificing style? Are you in a rush most mornings trying to head out the door for work or school drop-off and can only throw on the first two things you see? Do you get to the car, look at your outfit, and feel embarrassed because it looks like you don’t know how to style things and you have no idea what looks good together?

Picture this new scenario once a capsule wardrobe has entered the scene: You’re still in a rush in the morning getting ready to head out the door for work or school drop-off (because some things never change), and you go to your closet and grab the first two things you see. Except for this time, when you get to the car and look at your outfit, you don’t feel embarrassed. Because good news…you look great! Somehow, your outfit looks like it goes together even though you didn’t spend much time on it.

The aim of a capsule wardrobe is to have a curated collection of timeless classic pieces that can all mix and match with each other. And in a French capsule wardrobe, you add chic and simple pieces to your closet that just scream sophisticated and timeless!

Things to keep in mind when building your wardrobe

When building your French capsule wardrobe and shopping for new clothes, make sure you shop for neutral colors first. Neutral clothing items play a big part in looking timeless and classic. Though color is fun and has its place, neutral shades tend to read as elegant while colorful pieces tend to read as bold and fun. Plus, if your color scheme in your wardrobe is well, rainbow, you’re going to have a hard time mixing and matching!

Keep in mind that when you are shopping less, the idea is to shop better. Since these items are going to be worn a great deal, in an ideal world they should all be an investment piece. However that’s not always feasible, so I’ll include both an investment and budget-friendly pick!

Okay, here we go. These are the key pieces you need to put together your classic looks!

Items You Need for Your French Capsule Wardrobe

Outerwear

1. Trench Coat

It’s iconic and for good reason. French fashion and trench coats go hand in hand! From a basic top to fitted pencil skirts, a trench coat will go with everything and anything and is one of the top pieces of clothing you need! It can instantly add a classic factor to your outfit.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

2. Leather Jacket

The perfect way to add some edge to your look is through a leather jacket. If you want to dress down a fancier look, add some interest to your outfit through a different texture, or come across as edgy chic, then a leather jacket will be your best friend.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

3. Blazer

To look chic, timeless, and well, French, you definitely need a blazer in your wardrobe! And thankfully, almost any type goes. Whether it’s super fitted or slightly oversized, black or navy, or even a slight print, this iconic piece will instantly dress up even your most basic tee. But the ideas don’t end there. Wear it over a dress, a button-up, wear it belted as a top, or over a lightweight sweater, anything you want.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

Tops

4. Basic Tees

Whether it’s a gray, black, or white t-shirt (or all), not much will get worn more than these basic tees. They can be a layering piece worn under blazers and trench coats or worn on their own with jeans and a pendant gold necklace. Don’t overthink this piece! Just wear it with jeans and flats or sneakers for a simple and casual outfit. To look even more put together, pair with a slightly oversized blazer.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

5. Breton Shirt

Ah, this classic piece. It’s a must-have for your wardrobe (as are all of these other pieces) if you want to truly look like a chic French girl. Wear this shirt with jeans and a blazer or even a trench coat and loafers. Just skip the beret and baguette so you don’t look like a cliche!

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

6. White Button-Up

The versatility of this piece is endless! And since there are so many styles out there, you can easily find one that works for your personal style. If when you think of a white button-up you think of “stiff” and office attire, then look for a white button-up that is slightly oversized and has more of a relaxed fit. Wear it with jeans, skirts, shorts, heels, sneakers, sandals…anything!

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

7. Lightweight Sweater

This piece works for all seasons and will never steer you wrong. And for a playful twist on casual chic, look for a slightly oversized sweater. However, finding the right type of oversized is key. Slightly oversized, drapey, and boxy, can make any outfit look a bit more casual, but if you find something too oversized, then you may potentially look sloppy. Find the right balance!

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

Dresses

little black dress in a french capsule wardrobe
@ilona.bottey

8. Little Black Dress

As far as timeless pieces go, I’m sure you’ve heard about an LBD (little black dress). This dress is usually saved for a special occasion and is not too revealing so it can be worn to more than one type of event. The most important thing is to find one that you feel good in and that flatters your body shape. Whether you wear it with heels and a red lip or flats, you’ll always look chic!

Once you’ve got your classic LBD covered, considering adding a floral dress in a darker hue. You don’t have to save this dress for special occasions and can wear it with a blazer and sneakers for the daytime.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

Bottoms

9. Staple Pair of Jeans

These are the foundation of your wardrobe and I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed because there are so many different types of jeans out there! And in the world of TikTok and Instagram, the fads are always changing. And I get it, you want to stay “on top” of it all. However, a French woman isn’t (too) concerned about what’s “hot” and instead, she chooses the style of denim that not only fits her body shape but will never go out of style.

Top leg jean style picks include slim jeans, straight leg jeans, cropped flare jeans, and skinny jeans. You want your jeans to be classic and streamlined, so make sure you have at least one pair of jeans in a darker hue with no rips or stains.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

Shoes

10. Ballet Flats

Shoe styles come and go; ballet flats always remain a classic. These are great for spring and in-between seasons and instantly add a touch of sophistication to your outfit. Ballerina flats (rounded toe with a bow) are the most iconic, but get whatever shoe style works for you and that you can see yourself wearing a lot, whether that’s a pointed toe or a rounded toe with no bow.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

11. Ankle Boots

For ultimate French girl style vibes, pair your ankle boots with jeans, a sweater, and a blazer. A french woman keeps this outfit combination as her go-to and for good reason, it nails casual chic! These shoes are great for fall and winter, but once you’ve got your staple ankle boots covered, considering adding a pair of knee-high boots. These will provide more warmth and coverage for the cooler winter months.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

12. Pair of White Sneakers

Everyone’s got places to go and one of the best things you can do for your stylish wardrobe is to put the running sneakers away and instead, get yourself a classic pair of white sneakers. You want your outfit to strike the right balance of casual and chic and white sneakers will do just that. Footwear that looks too active, such as running sneakers and hiking sandals will not give you the effortless French style that you so desire!

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

13. High Heels

Important meeting? Special occasion? Hot date? Though a pair of high heels may not be worn every day, they’re still a weapon you need in your arsenal. Though it’s not actually all that common for French women to wear these around town (despite the stereotypes), not much can make you feel more dressed up than a classic pair of black high heels! Save it for your LBD.

investment pick | budget-friendly pick

Accessories

  • 14. Oversized Sunglasses
  • 15. Silk Scarf
  • 16. Simple, Gold Jewelry (gold hoops, gold pendnat necklace)
  • 17. Black Crossbody Handbag

Less is more when it comes to jewelry. You don’t need much to finish off your look!

So you can feel good about your fashion purchases, start with this shopping list first before you look to new purchases! To make things even easier, I’ve compiled it for you down below. If you’re on mobile, tap on the image to save it to your Pinterest board.

French capsule wardrobe

17 pieces later and now you have your very own classic French capsule wardrobe. At the end of the day, you can feel good knowing that your outfits will stand the test of time.

Generally, these staples always stay the same, but some items may need to be switched out for the hotter and colder months. To fill in the gaps in your wardrobe for the other seasons, check out the posts below!

Up Next:
Minimalist French Capsule Wardrobe for Fall/Winter
How to Create a French Capsule Wardrobe for Spring & Summer

french capsule wardrobe (5)
Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.