What Is a French Wardrobe?

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  • Written By: Lori Spencer
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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The signature of classic French fashion has always been simplicity and elegance. A French wardrobe is a compact collection of around 10 to 12 essential items of day and evening wear, appropriate for all occasions. These basic pieces are frequently rotated and accessorized for variety. Each season, only four or five new clothing items are added to the wardrobe.

A carefully selected French wardrobe is composed of well-made clothing that will stand the test of time. Ideally, each piece of clothing should last 10 years. Fewer pieces of clothing means each piece will be worn more often, so the fabrics must be able to withstand frequent washings without fading or falling apart. Each wardrobe item is an important investment, and the French usually spare no expense when it comes to quality.


Items selected for a French wardrobe should be simple, functional pieces that can be easily mixed and matched. The same pair of slacks worn at the office by day can also be appropriate for evening wear with a different shirt and shoes. In France it is not unusual at all for the same outfit or clothing item to be worn two or three days in a row before washing; rather, it is customary. Examples of basic pieces a French wardrobe might contain are a basic black dress for women or suit for men, a slim pencil skirt or trousers, a simple white shirt, a jacket or sweater, a pair of designer jeans or slacks, and a fashionable overcoat. For women, a few additional camisoles, leggings, handbags, belts, hats, scarves, shoes, and boots add variety and numerous options for looking chic in different types of weather.

While a French wardrobe may be basic, it does not have to be boring. The art of French style is individuality, inviting each individual to be creative in how he or she uses each piece to create a unique look of his or her own. The well-dressed Frenchman or woman does not follow trends, nor does he or she choose garish prints or colors. The look is polished and professional, never sloppy.

The French pay special attention to details such as having just the right handbag or shoes to go with a particular ensemble. When it comes to shoes, appearance is prioritized over comfort. Flats and sneakers are generally reserved for quiet times spent at home. At work or on the town, French men wear dress shoes, while the French woman nearly always wears a tasteful pair of high heels — and the higher the better. French women also enjoy wearing beautiful, delicate lingerie items; in France it is believed that alluring lingerie should not just be worn on special occasions, but every day.


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