Friday, July 08, 2011

French Chic: The core of the French Chic wardrobe

Images from Polyvore

One of the things about the book French Chic (Susan Sommers) which intrigued me was the list of garments which included "The seven essentials no well-dressed Frenchwoman would be without".
That list included:
  1. A black straight skirt
  2. a V-neck or cardigan sweater
  3. a suit
  4. a pair of jeans
  5. a silk shirt
  6. a couple of white tee-shirts
  7. an Hermes scarf
The idea of a list of essential clothing fascinates me; in a world that tries to compel me to over-consume, that finite-ness of a list like this, in which I could have some discipline and some structure, seems heaven-sent.  Knowing that I was going to buy a fixed number of garments would give me the freedom to determine how much I wanted to spend, in what areas I could be extravagant, and on which things I could choose to be more frugal.  And the absence of seemingly infinite wardrobe choices would certainly make getting dressed every day a lot simpler.

But of course, the French wardrobe is not limited to just the above.  French Chic counsels us that there are eight other garments which will round out the wardrobe.  And this still is not the end of a French wardrobe - they do indeed own more than 16 pieces of clothing, but it does make up the core.

"The eight extras in a well-dressed wardrobe":

  1. A white cotton shirt
  2. a pullover sweater
  3. a full or pleated skirt
  4. pleated trousers
  5. a simple sweater dress
  6. a trenchcoat
  7. a black leather blouson
  8. a heavy coat
Envisioned as follows....

I'm building these vignettes in different color combinations - more to come soon.


  1. Fun! You are so good at making these clothing capsule pictures...I love visualization. And I love that you are bring the classic "French Chic" book ALIVE. xxBliss

  2. Beautiful post & pics! I love the scarf in the top group - what is it's name, please?

  3. I love your vignettes, infact I'm reading your blog instead of buying fashion magazines. If you are open to requests, I'd very much love to see one for a "summer" colouring.


    Mme UK

  4. The scarf is the "detail" version of Fleurs et Carlines - aka Fleurs et Carlines II. I can suggest that you look for it at,, or

    And I am going to do a LOT more of these wardrobe vignettes in the next two weeks - I'm enjoying them tremendously. There will be some for all variety of colorings...

  5. I will use this when it comes time for me to work on creating a fall wardrobe I actually like. I no longer have a need for work clothes (maybe one professional outfit, just in case), but most of your items would work for my lifestyle.
    I know this must take a good chunk of time and creative effort on your part. I want you to know we/I appreciate it greatly.

    have a great is the new job going?

  6. Love, love, love your blog! I am in my 50's, travel frequently to Europe, and have become fascinated by the way the French and Italians dress--i.e. with few, well-chosen, high quality pieces. Ever wonder why the closets are so small in European homes? Because they don't need 200 pairs of shoes and 40 pairs of pants to look well-dressed and chic. This is my quest--to develop a core wardrobe of classic pieces, but make it all look current and fresh via accessories. Anyway, thanks so much for starting this blog. This is exactly what I've been looking for!

  7. Fabulous blog!! - your goals, aesthetic, and valise posts are wonderful. I'm trying to rethink my wardrobe along these same lines, with deliberate attention to classic, flattering shapes, minimal numbers of items, and great versatility. Plus good accessories. I am totally stuck at the moment on finding the best white button-up, collared shirt. I've tried on many with little success (I'm shortwaisted and 34E). Any suggestions you have for good brands or strategies will be much appreciated.