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The secret to having great style in your 50s is having a closet of essentials that stand the test of time and can be styled all year round. But you may be wondering, what classic pieces are actually worth investing in? And how do you wear them? To answer these questions, take a look at French style. It’s impossible not to marvel at French women’s effortless fashion sense that lasts well into their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. To help you get started, I have compiled a French capsule wardrobe for women over 50. From a scarf to white sneakers to black jeans, browse through the list to find essentials every mature woman needs!
Wardrobe Essentials for a French Capsule Wardrobe for Women Over 50
Cashmere Sweater – You would be hard-pressed not to find a cashmere sweater in a French woman’s capsule wardrobe. The sweaters come at a hefty price, but they are well worth the investment. The high-quality fabric will have longevity in your closet, as opposed to cheap sweaters that fall apart after a few wears. Plus, cashmere sweaters are very versatile. You can wear a cashmere with your go-to black jeans and ankle boots for a fashionable look.
White Button-Down – There is something about a white button-down that makes an outfit look super chic, no matter what you pair it with. This polished shirt is a great way to dress up everyday jeans and sneakers.
Neutral T-shirt – A basic t-shirt in neutral colors is an ideal top for layering with your blazers or for wearing tucked into your blue jeans. A staple white shirt is a must-have because you can wear it with virtually everything in your wardrobe!
Lightweight Sweater – This is one of the ultimate building blocks of a French capsule wardrobe that can be worn in different ways. If you want to create casual looks, you can pair your sweater with straight-leg jeans and white sneakers. You can also wear a lightweight sweater with a fancy pencil skirt and heels.
Marinière (Breton Top) – We all see tops go in and out of fashion, but the Breton top is here to stay. It exudes the effortless put-together style of French women. Ideally, this wardrobe staple would be nice to wear while sipping on Café crème in Paris, but it is also perfect for running errands.
Turtleneck – Once you add this piece to your capsule wardrobe, you will want to wear it multiple times during the week throughout fall and winter. It is a wardrobe workhorse that can be worn with anything from straight-leg jeans to a pencil skirt.
Oversized Sweater – Though it may seem “trendy”, an oversized sweater is a great wardrobe pick for women over 50. Not only can it keep you warm on chilly nights, but the relaxed fit comes across as casual chic and not stuffy.
Cardigan – A cardigan has a way of instantly elevating an outfit. It is the type of outerwear that you can quickly throw on with black pants and a neutral t-shirt on busy mornings. It will make your outfit look like you put in more effort than you actually did.
Blazer – Blazers are a must-have in a French capsule wardrobe for women over 50 and for good reason. It is what you need to make your own chic personal uniform. You will love the way it will pair well with everything from tailored pants to relaxed jeans.
Peacoat – If you love high-quality wool coats and blazers, you will enjoy wearing a peacoat. It is undeniably chic and timeless, which is why you need it in your closet. Try it with straight-leg jeans and a button-down for a Parisian look.
Trench Coat – If there is one piece of outerwear that reigns supreme among Parisian women, it’s a trench coat. This timeless piece can be worn with just about anything. You can layer it on top of a white button-down shirt or a black dress.
Wool Coat – Just like a trench coat, a wool coat is essential for a French woman’s wardrobe over 50. While the color options for wool coats are endless, keep things chic by opting for a neutral hue like camel, navy, grey, or black.
Tweed Jacket – Channel your inner Parisian style with a tweed jacket. You can wear it throughout the majority of the year without looking dated. There are many fashionable ways you can style a tweed jacket. Use it to dress up everyday jeans or to top off your black dress.
Animal Print Coat – Don’t be shy to add this statement piece to your capsule wardrobe! It’s a showstopper without being tacky. You can balance the coat with a black dress for an evening look or it can be layered on top of a cashmere sweater.
Optional: Leather Jacket
Black Dress – Maybe you are not the type to wear bright sparkly dresses for special occasions. Good news! A black dress is a solution for minimalist fashion lovers. Whether you are going on a date or to a wedding, a black dress is the piece to wear. You can take your black dress to a new level by accompanying it with a trench coat and gold/ silver hoops.
White Jeans – White jeans are guaranteed to freshen up your look and make you look instantly fashionable. You can style these jeans with anything, but we especially love a lightweight sweater, trench coat, and ballet flats for spring.
Black Jeans – The best thing about black jeans is that you can always rely on a good pair to class up your outfit. They have the power to turn an ordinary outfit into something sleek and dressy.
Straight Jeans – French women are pros at looking effortlessly relaxed and stylish, and the piece that helps them achieve this hard to master combo is straight-leg jeans. These jeans are ultra-flattering on your body type and work well with just about anything in a French wardrobe.
Dark Jeans – Dark wash jeans always make a top look brand-new. This wash looks especially sophisticated with neutral hues like beige, black, and of course, white. Wondering what style of dark wash jeans to get? Skinny jeans are a good pick because you can wear them with knee-high boots.
Pencil Skirt – Pencil skirts are best for professional, dressy, and preppy looks, but they are more versatile than you think. For work, you can pair it with a cashmere sweater and black heels. You could even dress them down for casual outings with friends. Throw on cozy sneakers and a neutral t-shirt. Et voila! A cool yet chic look.
Black Pants – These are one of the top key pieces needed in a French capsule wardrobe for women over 50. Black pants have a sophisticated vibe that is great for work or formal events. They can be teamed up with a tailored blazer or a white button-down shirt for an instant chic look.
White Sneaker – The chunky “dad” sneaker is loved in the fashion world, however, it is usually not the type of sneaker you will find in a French capsule wardrobe for women over 50. Pick a white sleek sneaker instead. It will never steer you wrong. The minimal silhouette can be worn with everyday jeans or formal black pants.
Black Ankle Boots – Anyone that loves boots needs black ankle boots in their capsule wardrobe. The boots are a great way to add a little edge to simple clothing pieces. Whether you pair your boots with jeans or a black dress, the result will still be a stylish look. They are always a good idea!
Loafers – You can’t go wrong with loafers when putting together a French capsule wardrobe for stylish women over 50. They are comfortable, versatile, and easy to slip on with equally formal black pants or casual jeans.
Heels – Stilleto heels are generally more “in”, but classic black pumps are a better choice than trend-driven heights that may be uncomfortable to wear. Black high heels (or kitten heels) will add a little bit of height and an elegant touch to your black dress, pencil skirt, or blue jeans.
Related: 5 Most Popular Sneaker Brands Parisians Are Currently Wearing
Structured Handbag – A structured handbag is a great piece to have for mornings when you are in a rush and need a quick and easy accessory to look dressed up. There are endless looks you can make with a structured bag.
Tote Bag – Easy, versatile, and classic, a tote bag is a great accessory to have in your French capsule wardrobe. Whether you need a mobile office or an accessory for brunch outfits, a tote bag has you covered.
Gold/Silver Hoops – There are plenty of earrings in the jewelry world, but nothing beats a pair of gold/silver hoops (choose depending on your skin tone). These versatile accessories can be worn for both daytime looks and fancy evening wear.
Gold/Silver Necklace – It’s the little things. Sometimes, all you need is a simple gold (or silver) necklace to complete your outfit. They are perfect for making even a neutral t-shirt look elegant.
Scarf – No French capsule wardrobe would be complete without a scarf. It is the type of fashion investment that is worth your money. Whether you opt for silk or cotton (or both), you don’t have to worry about it going out of style. Additionally, scarves are perfect to style for transitional weather and can be worn with even a basic white t-shirt.
Tights – Tights are a wardrobe must-have for older women. They are refined enough to add extra coverage (for those that want it) and to take you from the office to a candlelit dinner. They can easily elevate the look of ballet flats or black pumps.
Chain Crossbody – You will definitely get your money’s worth with this timeless bag style. And it might just become your go-to everyday bag! Pair it with white jeans and a turtleneck, and you’ve got yourself a chic look.
Belt – Belts are often overlooked, but they are a wardrobe essential. With the right fashionable belt, you can keep your bottoms intact without compromising your style or add definition to an oversized coat.
Watch – An elegant and delicate watch can make an entire outfit look expensive. It can be worn with many pieces in a French capsule wardrobe. Think oversized sweaters, blazers, neutral t-shirts, and loafers.
Sunglasses – Black oversized sunglasses are a real showstopper. Whether you use it to accessorize a peacoat or a Breton top, these sunglasses will complete your outfit and add a touch of subtle star power. Whether it’s a beachy or formal look, sunglasses work for different styles.
Knee-High Boots – Is there anything more timeless than leather knee-high boots? What started off as equestrian riding boots are now fall and winter wardrobe must-haves. These boots can easily be worn with black jeans and pencil skirts.
Here are some outfit ideas to get you started:
An important thing to know is that looking fashionable and timeless when you are over 50 doesn’t have to be hard! All you need are these key French capsule wardrobe versatile pieces in this style guide to keep you looking insanely chic for years.
For a deeper dive into having classic style in your mature years, then keep reading How to Dress Like a French Woman Over 50!