When the feeling of ‘nothing to wear’ takes hold – despite having a wardrobe full to bursting – taking your clothing collection from unwieldy to workable might be easier than you think. The French certainly seem to have it sussed.

We asked over 300 French fashionistas to describe their capsule wardrobes and the style rules they live by. Find out their secrets now…

French capsule wardrobe essentials

French women told us they build outfits from 20 – 50 items a year for all occasions. How many pieces are you working with?

From key wardrobe categories, the must-haves for French women are the:

  • Little Black Dress
  • Skinny Jeans
  • Fitted Shirt
  • Black Jacket
  • Ballet Pumps

Little Black Dress

La Redoute Little Black Dress by Tanya Leigh Washington

Championed by French fashion designer Coco Chanel back in the 1920s, the LBD still holds the top spot as a must-have for French women today with 51% of the vote.

The secret behind its timeless appeal? French women in our survey said of all items, their trusty LBD gives them the most confidence.

Skinny Jeans

La Redoute Skinny Jeans by Tanya Leigh Washington

This cut won’t quit. From hipster beginnings to overtaking the bootleg, skinny fit jeans are a firm staple for the foreseeable future.

Some 33% said their skinnies were key to their capsule wardrobe, beating boot-cut jeans with 8%, flares at 3% and boyfriend fit with just 1%.

Fitted Shirt

La Redoute Fitted Shirt by Tanya Leigh Washington

Chic in every shade and paired with any separate, a plain fitted shirt  was preferred to prints by 27% of our respondents.

French women said they own more shirts than any other item, making a handful of crisp collared numbers an essential capsule component.

Black Jacket

La Redoute Black Jacket by Tanya Leigh Washington

Easy to wear for work and play, the simple black jacket was the top choice for the capsule wardrobe cover-up for 29% of the fashion fans we asked.

Buttoned up for work days then shrugged over the shoulders for evening drinks, it will work as long and hard as you want it to.

Ballet Pumps

La Redoute Ballet Pumps by Tanya Leigh Washington

Comfortable and feminine, ballet flats serve us throughout Spring and Summer and  39% said they were their go-to shoe, over high heels with 12% and ankle boots at 6%.

Slip on a pair on route home from a night out or pair with jeans and a statement tee at lunch.

Another top French tip? Use shoes to make your look unique. Mix up prints and graphics among your plain pairs.

And should you need an excuse to justify that next must-have pair, remember what good company you’re in: 27% of French women in our survey said they invest the most in shoes to get their signature look.

And the other items that made up our French capsule wardrobe top ten?  Ankle boots, the leather jacket, high heels, a plain T-shirt and the simple sun dress. Unsurprisingly the trusty trench coat and Breton top were also popular with over 15% of women asked.

French style rules

With your core items in place, what were the top three style rules that French women swear by?

I dress for myself stat

#1 – Dress for yourself

Nearly half of the women we asked (48%) agreed with the statement “I dress only for myself, not for other people”. A mantra we can certainly get on board with.

Trends come and go, so dip into the ones you fancy and leave those you don’t on the rails.


#2 – Have a signature look

Some 42% of our French respondents said they had a signature look. Do you?

Start to shape yours by working through your wardrobe and noting the similarities in the pieces you feel most confident and yourself in. Then next time you go shopping you can start with a clear idea of what you’re looking for and avoid impulse buying.


#3 – Confidence is everything

Finally, how do you achieve that effortless chic look that gives the French their style je ne sais quoi? More than a third of our French friends said: ‘confidence is everything’!

Streamline your wardrobe with our expert tips and join us on Facebook and Twitter for chances to win capsule wardrobe essentials.



Leah Bee
I enjoy finding clothes and homeware that have that special something. Blending seasonal essentials with second-hand treasures is a weekend well spent.

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