In Discussions, Style, Wardrobe Help, Women

The Ideal French Minimalist Wardrobe for Women – Part One (Style and Fashion)

From recent observations of French women, this is what I would say is their minimum wardrobe.

They obviously may have multiples within each item that they prefer, but overall, they can build a variety of outfits just from the following:

1. A SHIFT DRESS THAT IS SLIGHTLY BODY-CONSCIOUS

I like jersey the best for shift dresses, but it won’t matter which fabric you pick as long as it doesn’t hug your body like a sausage casing.

I am talking about SKIMMING your curves, and hugging only in the right places (bust, hips), and the fabric should flow over the rest.

It’s not as fiddly as a wrap dress (some women hate those), and it is a simple piece in your wardrobe that you can just pull over your head.

DON’T GO FOR THIS KIND OF DRESS AT FIRST

This dress is body-conscious and it’s the James Perse Skinny Dress.

A little more body-conscious than what I’d suggest for a simple dress, but you can see that the fabric is a super thick double cotton (helps smooth over bulges and lumps), and it hugs my body to give me curves where I normally don’t have any (hips, butt, bust).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKYoCEHBtEH/?taken-by=saverspender

For these kinds of dresses, I always take my size. It’s body conscious and meant to fit like it. I could size up, but this particular boatneck neckline (totally breaking all my inverted triangle body type rules), would have then been an open/off-shoulder top on me (not good).

I love this dress in this kind of thick cotton because it is SO COMFORTABLE, and I can be a mother in it without feeling self-conscious about stains or things riding up (it’s a longer hem), and yet I still look attractive.


EXACT / SIMILAR:

…CHOOSE A BODY SKIMMING SHEATH DRESS INSTEAD

This next dress however, is more what I am talking about.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIij8cZBJal/?taken-by=saverspender

You see how it’s a simple jersey shift? It SKIMS my body, it doesn’t hug anywhere, and just flows over the top, only catching at the bust and a very slight bit at the hips, but it doesn’t hug anything, as you can see in the hips and thighs, going down in a straight line.

I’d suggest this kind of ‘shift dress’ in a neutral colour (navy blue is my preference if you only buy one) that can work casually and more formally.

HOW TO SIZE THIS PROPERLY

My trick with sizing these dresses is that if I find my actual size is too tight, I size UP once, even twice so that it skims, and if need be, I take it into the tailor to have it fit properly.

If you feel like a bigger size would be then too big up top, then take a higher neckline in a dress, size up, and then take it into the tailor to have it nipped in around the waist, perhaps a few bust darts, and shortened if it is too long.

EXACT / SIMILAR DRESSES:

2. SIMPLE, UNADORNED KNEE-HIGH NEUTRAL BOOTS

I am not even kidding because I went to the dentist the other day, and she stared at the boots I was wearing, and said: I have a pair like them at home, but not nearly as nice as yours. Yours look really good, I think I will buy them next once I save up enough. It’s worth it.

https://www.savespendsplurge.com/style-shopper-review-of-frye-melissa-back-button-aquatalia-tory-burch-derby-riding-boots/

(Boots above are: Tory Burch Derby Riding, Frye Melissa Back Buttons, Aquatalia Black Boots)

I of course, being a style-obsessed freak, blurted out my whole life story through the boots while sitting in the chair and told her she would not regret this purchase because while they never go on sale, there’s a reason why — they are AWESOME and will last a lifetime if you take good care of them.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNAOyFXBMjz/

The boots above were Frye of course, in the style of Melissa Button Back Zips.

PICK THE RIGHT COLOURED NEUTRAL

The #1 colour I’d choose is dark brown.

You can pair it with black (yes, really), as it is a lighter shade than black, and not as somber. It is also a nice warm colour that goes well with the entire rainbow in a dark brown leather, and won’t be too distinctive unlike cognac (light brown) or grey boots.

HOW TO SIZE THIS PROPERLY

If you want it to fit perfectly, understand that after 8 hours of walking, you will end up having your feet swell about 1/2 a size bigger and it will rub or hurt where you don’t expect it to, like at the toes, the sides of my toes or the top of the foot (my most common places).

Buy boots after walking for a whole day, in the evening or something or after a weekend out on the town running errands.

You may also want to consider buying up at least half a size, and wearing thicker socks or thinner ones depending on the fit.

Personally, I always size up a full size, to add Birkenstock insoles (half cork soles, or the long full soft ones), and to still have room to feel comfortable. I always like having extra arch support and it helps me walk for long long hours.

EXACT / SIMILAR:

3. COMFORTABLE, HIGH OR MID RISE DARK RINSE SKINNY OR STRAIGHT-LEGGED JEAN

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFjw8duvTEN/

(Above jeans are high-rise Brooks Rinse AG Farrah Jean)

Know what the most classic cut is? Skinny or straight legged.

Flares make you think of the 60s, wide-legged jeans make you think of the 70s and bootcut makes me think of the 90s.

What never goes out of style, is perfectly tailored (right to your ankle or just below) skinny or straight-legged jeans.

Know what the most classic rinse is? Dark.

Dark rinse elevates it to a more elegant, stylish wash that isn’t dated (no acid rinse, bright colours or neons here!). You can obviously experiment with the rinses but your main basic is a skinny or straight-legged.

You can dress up or down a dark rinse jean.

Know what the most classic rise is that is the most comfortable to eliminate muffin tops?  You guessed it — MID or HIGH rise.

Depending on your torso, you may feel more comfortable in a mid-rise than a high-rise.

You can check this by trying on both pairs in the same brand name, like the mid-rise AG Stilt Cigarette Jean versus the high-rise AG Farrah Jean.

If the mid-rise jean comes too low below your belly button, you need a high-rise jean.

If the high-rise jean goes above your belly button, you need a mid-rise jean.

I have NEVER, EVER gone wrong in recommending this exact pair of jeans to women of all ages and sizes.

The most comfortable fabric mix is 98% cotton and 2% elastane.

Any more or less of either, and it tends to be too stiff or too soft.

The dye job on the jeans also matter.

I found the high-rise Brooks Rinse AG Farrah Jean to be more comfortable and softer in a slightly lighter dark rinse wash than their super dark indigo wash. This is the exact pair I bought, and this pair in the a darker indigo rinse was slightly stiffer because of the dye.


My ultimate, favourite pair of jeans hands down are from AG, and this is from trying and buying Citizens of Humanity to Seven to Lucky to H&M jeans.

HOW TO SIZE THIS PROPERLY

For sizing I take one size larger (size 27) in the jeans, and I have them tailored down to a 26 in the waist because I don’t like it when my jeans are too tight around the thighs.

SHOPPING FOR MID-RISE AG STILT CIGARETTE JEANS IN 3 YEARS IMAGINATION RINSE

SHOPPING FOR HIGH-RISE AG FARRAH JEANS IN BROOKS RINSE

4. A MOTO JACKET

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNbwIkiBuJn/?taken-by=saverspender

Black leather is the most common, but I’d say even browns and dark charcoal greys hit the mark. It is also surprising but the grey taupe one I have (shown below) has been a very pretty, light neutral without being too light (white / ivory) or dark (black). I found it very versatile and a nice feminine, light highlight to all sorts of colourful outfits.

You can find a similar, very pretty scalloped-style version of the moto jacket here in that taupe grey.

If you’re not into leather, a cotton one is fine too.

I have moto jackets in the following:

  • faux black suede
  • faux cognac suede
  • faux grey taupe suede
  • real black leather
  • real cognac leather
  • grey cotton

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKjan6JhGMX/?taken-by=saverspender

They’re super versatile, easy to wear and go great as a topper over your outfits, and yet light, but not too light that it doesn’t add any kind of warmth.

HOW TO SIZE THIS PROPERLY

I always just fit the shoulder perfectly if it is a faux leather jacket, and if it is real leather, I go almost a half size DOWN because leather will stretch out as I’ve noticed in my Muubaa jackets.

I also consider if I want to add a sweater underneath (take my normal size or a little bigger), or wear it alone (take it fitted).

EXACT / SIMILAR:

PARTS TWO, THREE & FOUR to come…

P.S. If you liked these posts, here’s how to get a Parisian fashion wardrobe, the essentials of a Parisian fashion wardrobe, and actual capsules / looks of a Parisian fashion wardrobe.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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3 Comments

  1. The Ideal French Minimalist Wardrobe for Women – Part One (Style and Fashion) ww… – Fashion Blog

    […] The Ideal French Minimalist Wardrobe for Women – Part One (Style and Fashion) http://www.savespendsplu… […]

    Reply
  2. nancy

    Great picks for lasting basics! BTW, if anyone in Canada is in the market for Frye boots, Amazon.ca has some good prices right now. The Melissa Button Back is as low as $133-198 CAD, depending on size and colour right now.
    Quality leather boots are worth the price. I finally got the Loeffler Randall Felix booties the year before last (after stalking them for a sale for months and months), and they have been a great wardrobe addition. And I get so many compliments on them. Even if people don’t know the brand, they recognize good design and quality.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I LOVE the booties! They look at lot like my Club Monaco Brooklyns which I love.

      Reply

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