How to create your own French capsule collection with just 7 items
Once upon a time, when life was simpler, women didn’t own many clothes. Before the era of mass manufacturing clothes were much more expensive than they are today (relative to salary and cost of living).
Now we live in a time where clothes are not only cheaper, but span all price ranges, fast fashion is part of the shopping landscape. Our wardrobes are consequently bursting at the seams [pun intended!]. We have clothes that we don’t fit into, don’t like, have never worn, can’t find, and can’t see because our clothes are packed in like sardines and could potentially stand up on their own.
Is it any surprise then that interest in capsule wardrobes: that is a collection of clothes to wear with a restricted number of garments – seems to be at an all-tie high. There is an appeal to simplifying our life, of accepting, quite consciously, a life of less.
We look at other people, other women, who seem to have their life in order. In the clothing and style stakes we inevitably look at French women as looking great, looking like themselves, the epitome of value over volume when it comes to buying clothes. We all know that whereas British women will want to buy four fashion conscious jumpers on the high street, their French counterpart will prefer to buy one good quality jumper generally in cashmere and from a reputable brand. We hang our head in shame that our head is turned so easily by panic buying, impulse purchases and fast fashion. Is it any wonder then, that when we have all the clothing options in the world which become confusing and overwhelming, we finally have enough and shout out a big,
But still, having said our resounding Non! we don’t know quite where to go. We love the idea of simplifying, and certainly of imitating French women and their purchasing strategies, but where to start or even, how to start? What are we going to wear?
How the French Capsule collection style guide will help you
This style guide address exactly those questions: what are you going to wear and how to start. During this guide we will show you how to put together a 7-piece French-style capsule wardrobe that will have you leaving behind overwhelm and panic and stepping into order and calm confidence in no time at all.
You can find all out French capsule items plus blog posts on the French capsule wardrobe page of the website here: French capsule wardrobe page.
Let’s get started.
The French-style capsule wardrobe at Working Frocks is divided as follows:
1 jacket, 2 dresses, 3 tops 1 skirt
You can use any variations you like, but we think this works well.
The idea of the 7-item collection is that it is a core collection of clothes. You can wear other clothes too, of course! But start with these 7 items as basic items which are going to give you a foundation to looking really amazing, and feeling really organised at the same time.
Let’s go through each item and discuss how to wear it.
Every woman needs a good basic jacket that can be paired easily with trousers, jeans, skirts and dresses. A classic herringbone style jacket is a great basic, as is a classic black jacket. It can be worn from early Autumn to early Summer and is a great foundation garment for your wardrobe. Choose a collarless style for ultimate flexibility.
How to wear your jacket:
Wear your jacket to work with a pencil skirt, shift dress or trousers. Use the jacket as a canvas. French women choose silk scarves and wear them casually draped around the neck or tied around the collar line. Of course a collarless jacket looks great with statement earrings and with your hair slicked back you’ll make a great, easy style statement. This is one of the secrets of French style, it’s all about ease. If you look at pictures of French women they don’t complicate their style. Their hair is always cut simply, their jewellery is well chosen, their make up is just enough to highlight their features and not too much to distract from them.
Chanel favoured patch pockets on her jackets to put lipstick, cigarettes, pens, everything in. The jacket in our French Capsule wardrobe has four patch pockets. Simple, practical and stylish.
2. Black mini shift dress
Our black shift dress makes a great bold style statement. It follows the contours of the body without clinging to them, so it looks expensive and appropriate. French women tend to look appropriately dressed. British women, by contrast, know exactly how to dress and spend half of their time rebelling against style decrees. The other half of the time we follow them to a t.
How to wear a black shift dress
If you want to go with our French style theme then you can dress up the black mini shift dress with pearls, high classic court shoe heels, sheer nude tights, lightly applied make-up and red lipstick. If you are creating a 7-piece capsule wardrobe then make sure you can pair it with the plain black jacket in the collection.
3. Black relaxed dress
Try and have one relaxed semi-smart dress in your capsule wardrobe. It could be made in a printed fabric and it doesn’t have to black as ours is. This dress will be one of the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe. You should be able to wear it when working from home, when picking up the children from school, when going out to a wine bar. Our black relaxed dress is made in soft black jersey but it could be any fabric and any colour. It does need to be comfortable to wear and it should be a dress that can be styled up and dressed down
How to wear the relaxed dress
It’s the dress you can wear informally and semi-formally. You should be able to wear the relaxed dress in your French capsule wardrobe with ballerina pumps and equally with heels. If your relaxed dress can be paired with the jacket in your capsule wardrobe then you’re doing a great job. We think ours are too different in style to pair together. This relaxed dress will look better with an oversized jumper or a denim jacket or even a leather jacket. Both denim and leather jackets can feature in your own French capsule collection as a black jacket alternative.
4. Simple white top
We love the simple white top. It’s versatile, chic and looks amazing with everything we have paired it with. French style is based on simplicity and understanding our own womanliness and celebrating it. Simple clothes that allow our womanliness and sexiness to shine through without portraying us as sex sirens speak to the power that we have as women. This is exactly why simple dressing should not be underestimated: it shows us as powerful, not powerless. Less is more. Less says, “I’m confident, I’m capable”. This is what you get with the simple white top.
How to wear the simple white top
The simple white top is versatile and easy to wear in every situation. Whether you buy the one in our capsule collection, or another, make your white top an integral part of your wardrobe planning. The simple white top should be able to be worn with the pencil skirt and the jacket in your capsule wardrobe planning.
5. Black sheer top
Even in a small collection like the 7-piece French capsule collection you should make sure that one piece is surprising in some way. Don’t choose 7 utilitarian, dull pieces to wear. You will never want to wear them and not benefit from the advantages of having a capsule wardrobe collection. This is why we have the black sheer top in our French Capsule Collection. It stops the collection from looking too predictable.
How to wear a black sheer top
French women have nailed the art of introducing a suprising element to their dress. It is an element of play, that reminds them and us the we can all cultivate child-like practices without becoming a child. For example, I once saw a French woman, so chic and well put together, so classic in her style, not a hair out of place. Her hair was brushed back into a short pony tail, jeans were perfectly tailored and her white top was without crease. And she was wearing gold trainers. They looked so right with her outfit because they were all about play. Great fun.
This is what a black sheer top (or similar) will do for you with your own French capsule wardrobe. Wear it sheer under the jacket, or wear a black tee underneath and pair it with jeans. Wear it to work and downplay it with a cardigan over the top. It will effortlessly dress up your day.
6. Oversized top
French women are really great at wearing oversized tops in a way that doesn’t seem to drown them. We have created our oversized top in grey silk chiffon, a very dressed-up version. However oversized tops can come in jersey, can be knitted, or made in wool. French women wear their man’s shirts and pullovers really well, making the style their own. The oversized top is the same idea: wear something that is not created to your measurement proportions and wear it in a nonchalant, insouciant style. With our oversized top we have created an item that is particularly designed for women. However the idea is that this is a top which is relaxed and comfortable but stylish at the same time.
How to wear the oversized top
If your oversized top is quite long you can tuck the front part of the top into your jeans and leave the back trailing out behind. Our oversized top is quite short so might not tuck in the same way. One element of the oversized top should always be a little bit over the top, so in our garment, the sleeve ruffle adds huge volume to the top.
7. Black pencil skirt
Last but definitely not least, the black pencil skirt. How could we leave that to the last?! French women of all shapes and sizes have pencil skirts in their wardrobe as part of their general wardrobe makeover. Now that we have create our black spotty jersey pencil skirt, I wonder how I managed without one. They are easy to wear and suit nearly every body type.
How to wear your black pencil skirt
The pencil skirt in your wardrobe should definitely go with at least two of the tops and definitely the jacket. This will make the skirt a really foundational part of your French capsule collection. There is such a huge range of skirts and tops you can put into your French capsule collection so we are just going to provide some general style tips. Firstly keep jewellery to a minimum or to a statement piece or two. Statement earrings or a statement necklace, one great ring. You get the idea. Secondly keep hair and make up really sleek.
The French capsule collection in summary
Ok so there we have it. 7 items to have in a French capsule wardrobe collection. Why not get started today? How can you reconfigure your clothes to make them more interesting to wear and to work harder for you? Remember that all the clothes in your wardrobe should be worn by you on a regular basis. They should justify the cost and care you put into them. By reconfiguring a few of your clothes into a French capsule wardrobe collection and maybe adding a couple of new pieces you will have a whole different outlook on your own clothes and on how you were them. Enjoy the process!
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Have a great day,