This Is How to Create a French Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe


(Image credit: @louisefollain)

French women are often celebrated for their effortless style that is built around some recognisable pieces. I’ve written many stories for Who What Wear breaking down the essential items to craft a Parisian wardrobe for yourself, and they inevitably include French-girl favourites that we see on repeat (wrap dresses! Basket bags!). But of course, not all French women dress alike.

One style subset that has made an impression on me lately is the French woman with the minimalist wardrobe, built around clean lines and smart tailoring. It’s a way of dressing that hits on the trends in a subtle way, but the looks are refined and classic, with pieces that can be worn season after season. If you find yourself gravitating toward this modern way of dressing, you’ll enjoy what’s ahead. I’m breaking down the essential items needed to create a French minimalist capsule wardrobe—and the stylish women who are putting it on the map.

Modern Bags


(Image credit: @lifeofboheme)

Bags have architectural shapes and geometric designs—like these leather styles from The Row and Danse Lente.

Related: 47 Cool French Fashion Brands Everyone Should Know About

Straight-Leg Jeans


(Image credit: @claire_most)

In the world of denim, skip skinny jeans or any ornamental styles. Instead, stick to super-classic shapes like straight-leg jeans.

Related: People in Paris Are Wearing These Classic Flats With All Their Autumn Outfits

Satin Slip Skirts


(Image credit: @adenorah)

Slip skirts have been everywhere over the last few months and have certainly landed themselves in the closets of French minimalists.

Related: It's the Perfect Time to Invest in a Great Winter Coat—28 That Stand Out



(Image credit: @louisefollain)

An easy way to tap into this style is with a neutral wardrobe color palette. Stick to shades of white, tan and black (with the occasional rust or red).

Related: 8 French Outfits We Plan on Re-Creating for Autumn

Leather Sandals


(Image credit: @leiasfez)

When it comes to shoes, choose simple slide sandals finished in leather. Hermès makes a classic version, but you can also find affordable versions at Zara. Buy now, and set aside until your winter holiday or, if you're not jetting off any time soon, until spring. 

Related: Trust Me, I Know Good Shoes, and These Party-Ready Pairs Are Everything

Thin Ribbed Knits


(Image credit: @inesmelia)

Ribbed tops and dresses prove to be the ultimate layering pieces in the minimalist French-girl wardrobe.

Related: Bridal Trouser Suits Are Killing Off Traditional Wedding Dresses

Modern Suiting


(Image credit: @sarah_nait)

Another essential? A sharp-tailored blazer—for wearing with matching trousers or on its own. 

Still in need of some French style inspiration? These women can certainly help with that… 

Associate Director, Special Projects

Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.