Bonjour mes amis!
Happy Wednesday! (Or whatever day it is? 😜)
I’ve been thinking–while my Paris travel plans I had this year came to a screeching halt, that doesn’t mean we can’t still bring a little bit of France to the blog, right?
One easy way I love to bring a little French inspiration to my everyday is with French-inspired style and I have MANY go-to pieces of my wardrobe that fit the “French girl style” vibe, and I wanted to share those with you today!
You could consider this a “capsule wardrobe” of sorts, but it doesn’t have to have limitations. I feel like how I dress (especially in the summer) is via a series of mini capsule wardrobes–I typically gravitate to a handful of basics and wear them tons of different ways. I also think this frame of mind comes in handy if you’re, say, renting a lake house for a month for a socially distanced vacation in lieu of your usual travel plans. A French minimalist capsule wardrobe is one way to ensure you’re always looking chic without having to pack a lot of stuff!
How to Create a Summer French Capsule Wardrobe
Thus…I’m very excited about today’s post all about how to build a summer French capsule wardrobe! This is comprised of classic basics that can be worn again and again in ways that are simple, effortless, but never tired. French style always has je ne sais qua — that “perfectly imperfect” little something that makes it distinctive, or special in some way, but it’s hard to put into words why.
Because a French wardrobe is minimalist and stylish, while also comfortable and functional, it’s insanely easy to build and integrate into your lifestyle. Think elevated basics, classic silhouettes, and little, dainty details that take an outfit from ordinary to chic. I’ve been gravitating toward French wardrobe staples (well…French INSPIRED wardrobe staples) for years now and am excited to share my must-haves essentials for building your own!
French Capsule Wardrobe Essentials:
Gauzy tunic top
A gauzy tunic top is a fantastic summer wardrobe staple. This one is long sleeved (for mosquito and sun protection) but super airy and lightweight. If you don’t like ANYTHING touching your body–this is the perfect top! 😂 It runs VERY oversized, I went with a size XS and it’s still oversized but I like how flowy it is! Madewell also makes a super cute similar option!
There’s something about stripes that screams effortless, French style! I love this one in particular and own it in several colors! A great-fitting striped tee definitely belongs in any French (or French-inspired, in our case 😉) capsule wardrobe. Wear them on their own with skirts or denim–jeans or shorts. Pair them with a printed hair scarf and pop of red for more drama.
Next must-have: a feminine cami. Perfect for wearing as a base layer or on its own for date nights and warm summer days, a silk cami is endlessly versatile and elegant. Madewell also makes a super versatile cotton version! I also love this pretty Sezane tank that has the same effect but with a wider strap so you can wear a regular bra with it!
Whether it’s a neutral, colorful, or a stripe variation, a go-to boyfriend shirt is another versatile piece for a summer French capsule wardrobe. Wear as a swimsuit cover-up, tuck into white denim for a cookout, or dress down with shorts and slides around the house. (It’s also a great Zoom meeting shirt that looks put together–but you can totally wear bike shorts or leggings on the bottom!) 😉 Add a silk scarf around your neck or in your hair for a little extra flair! I also love this Sezane version, and this multicolored striped version!
Black Midi Dress
The MVP of the french wardrobe — a killer black dress. I love a midi length because it works for virtually any occasion or event. Pair with heeled espadrilles for a date night, dress it down with white sneakers or land somewhere in the middle with simple slides. I love this one from Able, and this one from Madewell is a great breezy, classic silhouette!
Linen or Cotten Dress
The epitome of summer — a breezy, flowy sundress. How comfortable and airy does this button-front striped version look? Or what about this Nordstrom option?! It comes in a couple of colors, too! Pair with a neck scarf and slides for a summer evening or throw on white sneakers and a straw hat for a day out in the sun. Also loving this striped option, this tie-strap look and this button-front one!
Everyone needs a go-to pair of easy linen shorts to pull on when it’s hot and sticky and you don’t want anything too form-fitting! Perfect for everything from the beach, pool, vacation, or a Saturday stroll around the neighborhood. (A match made in heaven for your breezy boyfriend button down!)
Light cropped jeans
While any style denim will do (skinny, straight, etc.), I love a high-waisted, straight leg, ankle-length pair for French summer style. My Levi’s wedgie jeans have withstood the test of time (I’ve had them for many years now) and they’ve always been a favorite in this category. They’re super flattering, and the more you wear them, the more comfortable they are! Another plus: they’re raw hem, so if you need them shorter, you just cut them with scissors! No hemming necessary! They’re available at Nordstrom and Shopbop (FYI Shopbop has free Amazon Prime shipping!)
Another alternative: Many of you rave about Universal Standard’s jeans, and they offer a wider range of sizes! I like their boyfriend crops! If you want to make them raw-hem, you can also just snip them straight across!
Minimalist fancy slides
For when you want to look like you tried–an easy way to class things up while staying comfy is by choosing more refined slides, likethese ones! I placed an order a couple weeks back and am [im]patiently awaiting their arrival! They are perfect for everything from a dress, and they’ll perfectly dress up jeans and a simple top, too!
All-day everyday slides
I’ve had these leather slides for years (in many colors) and I keep reaching for them because they’re comfortable and chic! You can dress them up or down and they’re great for walking long distances! They come in a variety of colors too! (Sizing: TTS). PSA- they are currently 40% off right now!!!
It’s no secret that I love a white sneaker, and these Tretorns are one of my all-time favorite pairs. They’re a little preppy, a little retro, but 100% classic and work with any French wardrobe outfit! (Sizing: TTS)
Fun fact: The name “Espadrilles” comes from the French Catalan name Espardenya, meaning “shoes.” Designed to be relaxed and chic, espadrilles are a timeless, French-style summer staple! Also, any closed-toe summer shoe is a win in my book seeing as I haven’t gotten a pedicure in like 6 months. 😜
The ultimate French fashion accessory: the silk scarf. Wear around your neck, in your hair or tie to your bag to add an effortless touch to your look. Silk scarves are also the easiest way to mix up your outfits on vacations! Check out my post on “Two ways to tie a French-style scarf!”
Part classic with a retro twist, I love cat-eye sunglasses, especially in the summer! They just scream endless vacation and add a lot to any look!
Also love this budget-friendly pair from Amazon (under $10!)
Elevate any look with a swipe of classic red lipstick! I love a red lip with a dressed down, casual look just as much as a simple LBD outfit! I’m a fan of Beautycounter’s bold red in shade Girls Night Out- Classic Red!
Dainty Gold Jewelry
A stack of layered gold jewelry is such a fun way to add extra interest to an outfit- especially in summer when you’re trying to avoid extra layers! I love Admiral Row’s selection of dainty gold jewelry- from necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings, their stuff is so unique and beautiful!
Subtle statement earrings
If you’re wanting to spice up your look a bit but still love the effortless minimalist French vibe, I love these earrings from Lola Ade! They make a statement while still being refined!
More French Outfit Ideas for Summer
A Linen Dress and Espadrilles For Summer Dinners
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Lean into summer textures with a great linen dress or jumpsuit and a classic espadrille for height and drama. I love how simple, yet put together this look is!
Stripes + White Denim + A Pop of Red
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Stick with the classics and add a little pop for an outfit combination you’ll wear for years and years to come. I wore this 2 years ago and still love it today!
Breezy Midi + A Straw Hat for Summer Occasions
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I adore a linen dress in the summer! I kept this look very simple with white slides that don’t overpower and a straw hat that adds a little texture.
White Button Down as a Swim Cover Up + Straw Hat
Button-down: Similar here (you could also totally just buy a men’s button-down! Love that look!) Bikini: Old, (I’ve heard AMAZING things about Summersalt though and they have an adorable classic black bikini with awesome reviews! Also have this black scalloped Amazon suit with more coverage (just watch those tan lines 😳) and this one is also similar!), Hat: Old, (similar here!)
I love that this combination was chic decades and decades ago, and still looks so modern and classic today! I love white button-downs for summer because they’re great as coverups, tops and outer layers, all in one. If you want to wear as a cover-up, I recommend something that is a bit longer in length! Men’s button-downs also work perfectly for this–whether they’re classic oxford or linen!
Stripes and White Denim for a drink alfresco
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Such a great go-to summer look- white denim (whether that’s a skirt, jeans, or shorts!) and stripes! The cat-eye sunnies, red lip and hair scarf make this simple outfit combination so much more elevated! (Also take me back to a rooftop in Florence 😭)
Camisole + White Denim for Date Night
[Original post here]
Similar camisole here and here, and I love this version that accomplishes the same look but with thicker straps, so you can wear a regular bra! White jeans (love that these aren’t see-through or bag out!), Madewell jeans (soft and not see through!!) Steve Madden slides (TTS & currently 40% off! This color is sold out, but they have lots of others!) Amazon straw bag (Amazing $15 find! Not super high quality, but perfect for vacations!) Similar earrings
A slinky cami and jeans is the easiest date night look and a combination I wear year-round. (This was taken on our Mexico trip last year!) Add a swipe of red lipstick and you’re good to go!
Linen Jumpsuit + Jean Jacket for Cooler Nights
You guys know how much I love jumpsuits- they are no-brainer outfits that make you feel put together while being insanely comfortable! A black jumpsuit is always a great, chic wardrobe staple to have because it’s so easily dressed up or down. When these photos were taken, I also swapped my sneakers for a pair of heels and added some dressier earrings to transition the outfit to nighttime!