10 Timeless Items French Women Have in Their Capsule Wardrobes

I can trace my obsession with French style all the way back to the first time I watched Beauty and the Beast. Belle might have been bored with her provincial life, but I certainly wasn't. I begged my aunt to let me cut the hem of an old blue bridesmaid dress that resembled Belle's dress, asked my mum to style my hair in a bow every morning and insisted upon carrying a basket with me wherever I went.

Today, I still find myself trying to emulate the look of French women, albeit with less taffeta. I trawl through vintage photographs of Paris, looking at the outfits French women have worn in the past, and I have an entire archive dedicated to saved images of the ensembles my favourite French influencers wear.

French Fashion Essentials: @tamaramory wears a pair of flared jeans with a black blazer and Breton stripe tee



Deciphering French style has been made easy thanks to these essentials. 

Upon looking at these snaps, I saw a pattern begin to emerge. I realised that almost all of the French women I follow own the same core capsule wardrobe of fashion essentials. Of course, I am all too aware that this uniform may not apply to everyone in a country, but the women I'm particularly interested in all subscribe to a look I love.

"French women invest in timeless pieces over trends," confirms Marissa Cox, a French style expert and friend of Who What Wear who now resides in Paris. "Wearability is integral to a French woman's closet, as she doesn't tend to overdress. She looks for pieces that can be dressed up or down."

So which French fashion essential do the country's best dressers rely upon to ensure they look chic at all times? I decided to do the honourable thing and share them with you. Scroll below to find out.


French Fashion Essentials: @aida.bdji wears a chic trench coat



Style Notes: Coats don't come more classic than the trench coat, so it's little wonder that they appear so heavily in French culture and in the real-life wardrobes of France's chicest residents.

Shop trench coats:

I love how pared-back this particular trench style is. 

This forever piece will go with everything.


French Fashion Essentials: @lenafarl wears a white broderie blouse



Style Notes: French women are masters at looking effortlessly polished, and the piece that helps them achieve this potent combination is the blouse. While they'll wear just about every blouse look out there, we find that the French women we follow tend to opt for white embroidered iterations.

French Fashion Essentials: @saraloura wears a white broderie blouse


Shop broderie blouses:

Of course, Isabel Marant always serves up some of the best white blouses.

The vintage feel of this really piqued my interest. 


French Fashion Essentials: @andi_mun wears flared trousers



Style Notes: French style tends to take subtle cues from the '70s, which is likely why so many of the country's sleekest dressers still consider flares to be their trouser shape of choice.


French Fashion Essentials: @vikilefevre wears a pair of ballet flats



Style Notes: We know what you're thinking: Ballet pumps for French women? Groundbreaking. But out of all the French-style clichés, this is the one item that French women actually wear.

French Fashion Essentials: @erinoffduty wears ballet flats


Shop ballet pumps:

These classic ballet flats also come in a striking gold. 

Bring along a pair of compact ballet flats to change into after a long day, or night, in heels. 


French Fashion Essentials: @tamaramory wears a strappy dress



Style Notes: When it comes to dresses, the French typically prefer fuss-free silhouettes (unless they're couture). For day-to-day wear, you'll see countless Gallic women wearing simple strappy numbers. 

French Fashion Essentials: @theblab wears a strappy dress


Shop strappy dresses:

It may be linen but you can wear this dress year-round.

Style with a cosy cardigan and ballet flats for cooler days. 


French Fashion Essentials: @frannfyne wears a pair of straight-leg jeans



Style Notes: It's hard to think of a time when straight-leg jeans didn't dominate our wardrobes. French women have been championing this denim trend in vintage blue for years. 

French Fashion Essentials: @juliesfi wears a pair of straight-leg jeans


Shop blue jeans:

These are the next jeans I'm going to try. 

Totême jeans are a hit with the influencer set. 


French Fashion Essentials: @leiasfez wears a black blazer



Style Notes: Finding a jacket to match your daily outfits can be tricky, but not if you have a black blazer at your disposal. French women use them to dress up their denim and to bestow their dresses with some je ne sais quoi. 


French Fashion Essentials: @sabinasocol wears a soft cardigan



Style Notes: Cardigans are an autumnal staple in the wardrobes of French women. They also carry them through to spring and summer as an effortless cover-up solution.

French Fashion Essentials: @aidabadji wears a soft cardigan


Shop soft cardigans:

Sézane is your one-stop shop for all things Parisienne. 

Wear this without a top underneath for even more French flair. 

An easy wardrobe staple you'll wear for years.


French Fashion Essentials: @sabinasocol carries a shoulder bag



Style Notes: More practical than top-handles and more elegant than crossbodies, shoulder bags are naturally the French arm candy of choice. 

French Fashion Essentials: @ruerodier carries a shoulder bag



If you thought this was designer, I wouldn't blame you. 


Style Notes: No one embraces the miniskirt quite like French women do. While they wear them with heels when the occasion calls for it, you're much more likely to spot them wearing miniskirts with chunky boots and jumpers or T-shirts. 

French Fashion Essentials: @sylviemus_ wears a mini skirt


Shop mini skirts:

This mini will work hard for you.

Pair with knee high boots for winter. 

Next Up: I'm a Brit Living in Paris—4 Easy-to-Copy Outfits I've Spotted French Women Wear

This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.