The 8-Piece Capsule Wardrobe French Women Rely On in the Summer

You know this already—we have a thing for French style. This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise, as we’ve investigated everything from the pieces Parisians fill their homes with to their favourite style of dress. In other words, we’ve done our research narrowing in on how they achieve that je ne sais quoi, and now we’re diving into their summer wardrobes.

French fashion people like Jeanne Damas, Sabina Socol and Anne-Laure Mais seem to line their closets (and suitcases) with many of the same items and follow a few of the same rules. The guidelines are pretty straightforward. First, keep your palette neutral. Stick to classic shades like navy, white, and red, as well as earthy tones like tan and rust. You’ll have a hard time finding French women wearing anything too jarring like neon. Next, when wearing prints, go for seasonless patterns. Much like an It bag that’s associated with the time it debuted, prints can look tired after a few months. You can avoid making your outfit look dated by wearing prints like polka dots, gingham and simple florals, which will never date. Last, you can never go wrong by following the lead of late icon Jane Birkin. Whether it’s emulating her basket bag, cropped hemlines, or layered necklaces, her decades of quintessentially Parisian style serve as an eternal source of inspiration for us all.

Keep reading to see the eight pieces that define French summer style.

1. Cat-Eye Sunglasses

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @adenorah



Style Notes: Cat-eye sunglasses are an effortless way to nail a vintage look. Match a pair of retro white sunnies with a timeless statement blouse. 

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @pomelokiwie



Style Notes: And clearly, there's a penchant for white frames…

Shop the key item:

Mango makes great affordable sunnies.

2. Printed Dress

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @lenafarl



Style Notes: If it's printed, it's a dress and it has a slightly retro lilt to it, then you'll definitely tap into that French summer look.

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @emmanuellek_



Style Notes: Best worn with gold jewellery and simple flats or sandals.

3. White Blouse

Style Notes: Puff sleeves, broderie anglaise and cropped lengths are all popular takes on a classic idea in Paris.

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @melodiebance



Style Notes: Milkmaid blouses make up for 90% of the white tops we see on French girls right now.

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This classic style will always feel modern. 

The details on this blouse are stunning.

4. Swimsuit

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @sabinasocol



Style Notes:  The French-woman one-piece is modest, but it must be more than your average wear-it-for-lengths kind of sporty silhouette. Think cute prints, low necklines or cut-out details. 

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @vikilefevre



Style Notes: In case you hadn't guessed, gingham is a winner among the Gallic style set.

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5. Straight-Leg Jeans

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @claire_most



Style Notes:  It's a combination that works universally: Straight-leg jeans, a white tee and shoes of your choice.

Style Notes: And there's no better partner for the aforementioned white blouses.

Shop the key item:

Editors love Arket's denim and this straight style is a personal favourite. 

6. Espadrilles

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @ariadibari



Style Notes: When in France, wear espadrilles. They may be a Spanish shoe, but the French have wholeheartedly adopted them into their classic summer repertoires.

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @ruerodier



Style Notes: They work with everything from jeans to slip dresses and are damn comfy, too.

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Shoes don't have to be sky-high to have an impact. 

7. Basket Bag

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @frannfyne



Style Notes: Basket bags are not a fleeting trend; they're a staple part of any decent French summer wardrobe.

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @juliesfi



Style Notes: Neutral raffia colours are favoured, and that means they'll work with all sorts of outfits.

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You'll use a basket bag year after year. 

Just the right size for your everyday essentials.

8. Miniskirt

Style Notes: French girls always wear minis so well. It must be because they always opt for flat shoes or low heels. Chic.

French Girl Summer Wardrobe: @salome.mory



Style Notes: Balance out a shorter hemline with a full-coverage shirt, et voilà.

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Just pair with a staple white tee. 

You'll never run out of ways to style this.

Next Up: Trust Me—Every French Woman Owns These 6 Summer Staples

This post originally appeared on Who What Wear US and has since been updated.