5 Piece French Wardrobe: Get Your French On


If you aren’t obsessed with the sleek style and seeming perfection of all things French, well then I’m here to change your mind.

And what do the French do better than anything? Style. And now, Capsule Wardrobes. Scientifically proven, of course. The 5 Piece French Wardrobe is the embodiment of the style principles we think of when we think of effortless Parisian style.

What is it?

No, it’s not someone who has a capsule wardrobe of only 5 pieces of clothing. That would be a littleeeee extreme (but now I kinda want to try it).

Actually, it’s the premise that once you have a core capsule wardrobe of basic, versatile clothing, you then purchase 5 or less trendy items per season to keep your wardrobe fun and up to date. Simple, really.

Your core basics can amount to any number, but I would recommend keeping it between 30-50.

The seasons are spring/summer and fall/winter, so you would end up purchasing about 10 new pieces a year, not 5 for each of the four seasons. Spring and fall are considered transitional seasons, so that’s why the seasons are grouped into two. And you save money!

Now, these 5 pieces each season do not have to be trendy! They are simply a way to add some personality to your wardrobe, and you can go with the trends or stay true to your personal style. And don’t we all want that everlasting signature style. Ugh, drools 😍

Purchasing in this way helps to keep your wardrobe from becoming overrun by trends and helps you develop your style more thoroughly. After all, if you can only purchase a few things each season you’d want to be dang sure they’re right for you.

Where did this come from?

The waters are a little murky on where the 5 Piece French Wardrobe originated from, but it’s safe to say it came after the original capsule wardrobe.

It seems to have started sometime between 2005 and 2014, but the premise has been around much longer and only recently formalized for us Americans.

If you’d like to do some more reading about it check out these articles and forums:

AfterDRK 5 Piece Wardrobe

Fashion Spot Forum on the 5 Piece French Wardrobe

Your Holy Grail Guide to French Elegance

How do I make a 5 Piece Wardrobe?

Step 1 | Clean out your closet.

And do it the right way! I’m a bit of a closet clean-out connoisseur, and I’ve written a crazyyyy detailed post on my sure proof method to clean out your closet in one day, and keep it that way!

Bonus: You don’t even have to get into your feelings and “spark joy”.

Step 2 | Assess what’s left.

To create a reallyyy versatile wardrobe you’re gonna need some basics. Basics can look different for everyone depending on their style, so I like to recommend types of clothing over specific items.

Meaning, I won’t tell you that you need black ripped jeans as a basic. Instead, you need x amount of pants. Whatever style the pants, dresses, tops, etc. are is up to you, girlfriend!

Accumulating all of the basics you need can take a while, especially when you’re searching for that holy grail t-shirt! If you want, you can do Step 2 and Step 3 at the same time, but I would recommend you wait.

While you take the time to gather all of your basic pieces, you are honing your style. You are becoming more attuned to what things you like best and what works for your body. You can certainly get some trendy items as your 5 pieces while you work on this, but it may end up that in a couple of months they aren’t as “you” as you originally thought.

If you want to do it right, take the time and focus on your basics.

Since you’ve cleaned out your closet, now you can see what holes you need to fill. Already got the pants box checked? Great! Focus on filling out those tops and dresses, now!

Here is my list of suggested basic item types and how many you should have of each:


And if you’re wondering what that may look like, here is a basic core capsule that is pretty similar to my own! It may not be your style, but I think you can get the idea.

Where I like skinny jeans, you may prefer all straight leg jeans. I like fit and flare dresses, and you might love drapey boho dresses!

The important part is the type of item not the specifics, don’t forget!


Step 3 | Now you get to have fun!

You can shop to your heart’s content, but you have to practice restraint. Ughhhh it’s the worst, I know. But true style is not in having a new outfit every day. True style is knowing yourself and what works for you. A piece that flatters will never get old.

These 5 trendy pieces do not have to meet the “basic” criteria I laid out in my suggested list of items. They can, but they do not have to. This is a piece that you could see yourself wearing several times, but maybe not in the next year. It might be something that is a little out of the ordinary for you. It might not be the greatest quality, and that’s okay!

The only rule? Once you have your 5 pieces for the season, you can’t get anymore. And no, throwing it out a week later because you’re bored does not restart the count.

Restraint, ladies.

Here are the 5 pieces I would purchase to go with my basic capsule wardrobe for each season: