Thanks for stopping by! Here on BECOMING LOLA I share stories on becoming minimalist, as well as living a pure clean life as a style-obsessed digital nomad with a no BS approach to ethical fashion + travel. Grab a glass of wine and start here: Building A Minimalist Wardrobe.


minimalist french style basics

There are many reasons to admire the French. Their very culture seems to exhibit the best in beauty, style, grace, and good taste. I adore the intoxicating incomparable cuisine and sweet little hidden cafes. But most of all, I admire their sense of fashion. As a budding minimalist and lover of travel, it is hard to deny that French women know how to embrace, master rather, a richly simple yet beautiful wardrobe.

In America, we move from trend to trend faster than a frantic crowd on Black Friday. The result? A closet full of trash. Even if you're not a trend whore you probably still own a closet full of trash. If you don't want your closet to look like the bargain bin at the thrift store, it might be time to start thinking like the French. For a start. I admit another country is not the be all and all of solutions to our materialist overcomsumptive ways. So as a run through my minimalist french style series, let's start with some basic principles.

Minimalist french style basics

French Women Cultivate A Style: French women are aware that they are cultivating an overall appearance and impression when they buy clothes. They don’t just buy into trends. They acquire essentials and basics that help them improve their general look.

French Women Embrace Simplicity: French women tend to prefer clothes that are very simple in style. Their outfits may look plain on the outset but they know how to accessorize properly. They collect timeless classics that will last them a lifetime. They have a keen eye and know when they have found contemporary pieces with an edgy twist which keeps their look up-to-date.

French Women Choose Modesty and Femininity: Generally speaking, French women choose styles that are more modest or feminine. While they may occasionally rock more aggressive or revealing styles, they find pieces that can be worn in a multitude of situations and that are going to last beyond one season.

French Women Understand Elegance, Quality and Fit: Regardless of what is being instructed on runways or in magazines, French women always choose clothes that are made from good quality natural fabrics. They pay close attention to fit and tailor when necessary. If you haven’t already, it is time to invest in a tailor. Trust me, it will change your life.

French Women Review and Edit: As with most women, French women like to stay in touch with current trends. However, that doesn’t mean they overhaul their closet with cheap knock off versions of this seasons “must have.” Their small closet made up of mostly basics makes it easy to mix and match, but they may edit and incorporate new items as old ones become worn out or are no longer necessary.

Alright, so is anyone else ready to throw out half of their wardrobe? I truly find this very inspiring. However, it can also be overwhelming. As I have learned, minimalism takes effort and time. I wasn't raised this way. I had a nervous breakdown trying to clear a path to my front door figuratively speaking and decided that, for my own mental health, it was time to embrace a less consumptive lifestyle.

So, let's start with a simple lesson. After cleaning out your closet, its time to start building a new wardrobe out of neutral colors and patterns. French women prefer to own clothes in neutral colors. There are many advantages to having neutral basics including:

  • They are easily mixed and matched with one another.
  • They are a blank canvas that makes accessorizing easy.
  • They are non-memorable. They can be worn more often and no one will know the better.
  • French women can often wear the same outfit in a row and just change up the accessories. How is that for simplicity and a lighter load of laundry?

To start building a good clothing base, it is a good idea to check in with your lifestyle. Don't pull together an entire wardrobe for office outfits that includes high heels if you aren't comfortable wearing them! Common sense, I know, but sometimes those heels look so damn appealing on the shelf. (Okay, so I might buy them, but then again, I love my heels!)

In terms of prints and textures, French women are very careful about what they choose. They want it to be versatile and match their basics. Floral is a rarity while Breton stripes are very common. If they do wear texture, it is still often in a neutral color such as white lace, tweed that is informed by their wardrobe, neutral suede or other leathers.

As you build up your wardrobe, and trust me it takes time, you slowly find a love for accessories because they will now literally go with everything. Scarves are a key accessory. Really, for French women, scarves are THE accessory. Scarves are inexpensive, can be adorned all year and are completely versatile. They can be worn all sorts of ways- around your neck, as a belt, on a handbag, or around your head.

Beyond scarves, French women also own a small collection of other good quality accessories.Typical French accessories might include:

  • Beautiful Hosiery
  • Simple Necklaces or Bracelets
  • Pearl Necklace or Earrings
  • Neutral Colored Leather Bags

There is no need to overdo your accessories. A few simple items will really pull your outfit together.

Footwear is also a simple affair. A French women doesn't typically own many shoes. She will own a small collection of shoes that are carefully chosen and that meet her daily needs. Again, for maximum versatility (are you beginning to see a pattern?) the shoes are in neutral colors such as black or brown. They also walk virtually everywhere so the shoes are comfortable and appropriate for the season.

As for those special accessories that you don't see, French women know the value of good quality intimates. Yes, no one regularly sees them on your stroll through the town... hopefully. But we all know how a good pair of underwear or a lacy bra can literally uplift your day. Get over saving them for “special occasions.” Spend the money. Love them. Wear them everyday.

You don't have to be French to be a minimalist and you don't need to be a minimalist to want to simplify your closet. However, the French woman knows how to stay on top of the trends without breaking the bank. If you break into knee-bumping fear every time you open the closet door, it might be time for a change. I promise, you will feel chic and magnifique!


  1. Part of the French Woman mystique is the air of mystery (je ne sais quoi, amirite?). In the US and UK individual style is all about SHOUTING your personality out through your clothing and makeup choices. French style tends to be more subtle (and therefore classic). While they're still Western and therefore honor individualism, they tend to keep their cards a little closer to their chests, if you know what I mean. That is reflected in their fashion image. Some might say their style is "boring," but really they are just injecting their personalities into their wardrobes in a more restrained fashion.

  2. Sarah my darling how did your comment slip past me! I love your "amirite" haha gotta steal that. And you are indeed right. I agree and this topic is so debatable with answers on my end forever changing. Sometimes I say classic sometimes I say boring. Time will tell my final call.


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