YOUR GUIDE TO A FRENCH SUMMER CAPSULE WARDROBE

by Fiona McMurrey
FRENCH CULTURE
12/1/2023

With summer just around the corner, what better time than the present to start rotating out those cozier transitional pieces and welcome in the warmer weather? If you’re considering consolidating your wardrobe, planning a sun soaked trip to the South of France, or are just in the market for new additions to your personal summer collection then browse the basics of every French Summer capsule wardrobe.

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

1. The Espadrilles

A staple for every summer, espadrilles add a touch of rustic appeal and elevation to any look, and are as elegant as they are simple. The Castañer Chiara wedges are some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn and will last you season after season, making them well worth the investment!
Jane Birkin.

2. The Wicker Bag

Jane Birkin truly did it best with her pre-Hermés wicker basket! Whether you prefer a logo-stitched edition or a vintage rough around the edges tote from a French brocante, or friperie, one thing is for sure, this bag contains more than your personal effects, but also the spirit of a quintessentially French summer.

Courtesy of ASOS.

3. The Denim Skirt

Though maxi denim skirts have received all of the attention as of late, their shorter counterparts are perhaps more equipped to deal with the soaring temperatures and almost universal absence of air conditioning throughout France. Pair it with a linen button up, a tank top, a t-shirt, any form of blouse, or a sweater and espadrilles and you’ll be ready to go in under five minutes!

Courtesy of Etsy.

4. The Linen Button Up

Another breezy summer essential is that of the linen button up, a timeless closet staple that can transition from Spring to Summer to fall and adds a soft touch of sophistication to any outfit.

Courtesy of Taranko.

5. The Perfect Sleeveless Blouse

The sleeveless blouse, a sister to the linen button up, is a versatile item that is breathable for blazing summer days, and can take you from day to night with just a change of pants, skirt, or shoes.

Courtesy of Etsy.

6. The Silk Slip Dress

Whether you’re celebrating a hot girl summer in the south of France or simply want to avoid sweating through thick, synthetic materials, opt for a silk slip dress that is just as torrid as the sizzling temperatures.

Chloé SS 2016.

7. The Little White Dress

Every season demands a little black dress, but for summer in particular you need an easy throw-and-go little white dress, mini, maxi, or midi, that can go from day to night, beach to café and beyond. Pay close attention to materials such as linen, silk, and cotton so you can invest in the perfect dress that will last you for years!

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

8. The Mules

If you want to look effortlessly chic this summer then treat yourself to the pair of versatile kitten heeled mules that go with anything and can easily be slipped on as you’re running out the door, either to romanticize your life while getting groceries, or on a date - these shoes can take you everywhere!

Courtesy of Loft.

9. The Perfect Tank Top

The perfect tank top is a must-have for any wardrobe but rather than following certain trends on Instagram, find out which style of tank looks best on you, so it will stand the test of time and make getting dressed feel like a breeze.

Courtesy of The Undone.

10. The White Linen pants

White linen pants are integral to any Summer wardrobe as they match with almost anything and are light enough to withstand the heat. If, like me, you are rather clumsy and despite the fact that you constantly wear white, inevitably end up staining it, go with another classical color like navy, ecru, olive, terra cotta, or something more interesting that pairs with specific colors in your wardrobe like plum.

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

11. The Heeled Sandals

Perfect for strolling a city (with steady sidewalks unless you are supremely confident or reckless in heels like me) or for a night out, you need a pair of heeled sandals in your wardrobe! Wear them with any length of dress, skirt, or even shorts, and you’ll be good to go.

Jane Birkin.

12. The Perfect T Shirt

The easiest thing to wear in the world is the plain white t-shirt, but if you’re concerned about seeming too basic, try a loose linen, eggshell white t-shirt instead. That being said, there is nothing sexier than the cloying simplicity of a white t-shirt, denim skirt, and espadrilles with thoroughly tousled post-coital hair.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

13. The Flat Sandals

For long walks on the beach, climbing the calanques of Marseille (at your own peril- I wouldn’t do it again in birkenstocks), or just for exploring a new city riddled with poorly spaced cobblestones that have been weathered by the ages, you will need a pair of flat sandals. If birkenstocks aren’t your style (they weren’t mine initially so I understand), then try a classical pair (in the sense of Grecian antiquity) from Ancient Greek Sandals which are sure to have something for your liking.

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

14. The Denim Shorts

A requirement for every closet, denim shorts are one of the most versatile pieces for summer you could ask for. Opt for a pair that aren’t too long, aren’t too short, and you’ll be good to go.

“Thelma and Louise,” (1991) Ridley Scott

15. The Summer Boots

Though this may be an unorthodox item on this list and perhaps incriminating evidence that I was born in Houston, despite my scrupulous efforts to eschew any hint of an accent, I am a firm believer that boots are summer footwear, cowboy boots specifically as well as any breathable cut-out boots that can be swapped out for sandals at a moment’s notice. Pair them with a mini dress, a denim skirt, shorts, or any way you’d like, Cowboy boots are quintessential summer boots, and an item everyone needs in their wardrobe.

Courtesy of Etsy.

16. The Summer Sweater

I always have a sweater on hand for the mercurial French summer weather, especially if I’m by the coast where the sea breeze can transform the temperature in a matter of minutes. A regular cardigan may be too heavy for the season so opt for a loose knit pullover, or light cardigan.

Courtesy of Style Tab.

17. The Silk Shorts

Following the balletcore trend that’s currently taking the fashion world by storm, silk shorts (they don’t have to be Miu Miu) are a versatile addition to any wardrobe that can be worn by themselves throughout the summer, paired over a bikini, or with any variety of shirt, and worn with tights, a sweater, and knee high boots in the colder months.

18. The Underwear

Lastly, one of the most important staples in any summer capsule wardrobe are the undergarments because God knows we can’t all go braless or live in bikinis 24/7. Opt for light, airy, breathable underwear that won’t trap sweat and augment the agony of suffering through the heat by giving you a yeast infection to boot.