Based on my experience from visiting Paris and observing lovely, chic French women, this is what I imagine would be their minimalist wardrobe:
BASIC LAYERING TOPS
Worn underneath things like button-up white shirts, sweaters, blazers or jackets, basic layering tops tend to be in black, white, khaki green, or grey. Simple, not too tight, and slightly loose for that casual look.
I saw them layering with these black or white blazers over those tops but also over striped shirts and white button-up shirts. It looked so effortless and easy. Each blazer I noted was very classic, or had a slight twist to it — a leather detail, a stripe, nothing too frou-frou.
Winter is not that cold in France so they don’t have goose down jackets. They have trench coats that they can layer sweaters underneath topped with scarves, and every cool French girl had a nice leather jacket in black, dark grey or brown.
Striped Breton tops are still chic and will always be chic in my opinion. I also saw quite a few white button-up tops, like ones from Equipment (which I adore, except now since 2009 they are made in China).
They double as Autumn jackets and underneath jackets for Winter layering. Simple colours, cashmere, simple knits.
One casual summer dress (you can always dress it up with jewellery), and one formal little black dress (a la Coco Chanel).
Jeans. Skinny, bootcut, flared… in a dark rinse. Also, their skirts tend NOT to be tight and short, they are flared and A-Line, all the better to bicycle with.
SHOES FOR EVERY OCCASION
Heels (black to match the black dress but also everything else), ballet flats (standard), sandals for summer and knee-high boots.
One stylish, no-name, logo-free bag. Usually leather. They don’t like to show off in their handbag and hardware. No glitz or “glamour”.
For when it gets nippy!
This is where they let themselves add a bit of colour and texture, if that! I saw lovely scarves on French women even during summer.
Another area they let themselves add a little personality to a neutral outfit. Bold rings, bold necklaces, all kept very simple and not overdone. A simple analog watch, a pair of sunglasses on top of their head, and they are ready to go.