11 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, and I have made it my mission to analyse what exactly are the French fashion essentials that I could add to my capsule wardrobe. 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.


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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.

11 French Fashion Essentials That Always Look Chic



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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.


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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 elegant white iterations.


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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.


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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.


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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, layered under cardigans and jackets when the weather gets colder..


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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.


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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.


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Style Notes: Cardigans are a year round staple in the wardrobes of French women. Not just for when the weather gets on the chiller side but they also carry them through warmer days as an effortless cover-up solution.


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


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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.


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Style Notes: No French wardrobe is complete without a classic timepiece. Whether it's a sleek wristwatch or refined pocket watch, these accessories are indispensable for their blend of function and elegance.

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(Image credit: @leasy_inparis)

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

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.

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