French Chic Minimalist Summer Wardrobe at 75

This summer we’re seeing so many neutrals, especially black and white.

The French chic aesthetic is build on a neutral palette. Last year for winter through Spring I tried on my French chic capsule wardrobe based on navy. Here I’m working with a sharper contrast using black, white, ivory and beige for my French chic minimalist summer wardrobe.

What is French chic?

French chic style is a classic way of dressing which suits all ages. Yes, it’s easier to get that French understated elegance if you’re tall and slim. But most of us at our age aren’t. I’m short and 25% overweight. So in these images you will see that I adapt what I wear to cover my big tummy and to divert attention from my hips.

Putting together this summer capsule wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe uses a few items to make many different outfits. It’s important that both the colors and the shapes all work well together.

This year women are wearing all widths of trousers. So I’m showing you how three styles can work – straight (the beige chinos), wide (the white chinos) and today’s very wide pants (the black linen pants).

As I currently live in the UK, almost opposite a huge Marks and Spencer’s store, I’ve been enjoying trying on their clothes and buying some classics. Scroll down to see links (affiliate, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you click and buy, thanks!) to M&S US site and M&S UK site.

Selecting white clothes

I started putting this capsule together by simply laying out everything I have in black, white and beige.

I found I had lots of white and ivory tops already. Here I’ve chosen a sleeveless linen top (Boden, out of stock) which I will mainly wear as a layer under other items as I don’t like to show my upper arms too often. Being sleeveless, it sits well under even another linen top without looking bulky.

But when I’m with people of my own age group I will remove the top layer and enjoy getting the sun onto my upper arms. Actually, French women don’t usually worry too much about showing their upper arms. They tend to have a lot of body confidence whatever their age.

I added a new short sleeved square-cut tee – I’ve got lots but I like to get that extra whiteness that only a new shirt has, so I usually buy a couple every summer.

Finally I chose an oversize cotton shirt in ecru that I bought earlier in the year as a potential top layer or cover-up.

French chic striped tops

The black and white striped cap-sleeve tee is years old but does the trick under darker layers.

I bought from my local supermarket, Tesco, a new elbow length crew neck striped knit which I adore. Just wish I was slimmer to make it look even better!

From M&S I bought a stripey collarless cardigan of which there are lots in the shops right now and despite the rather long arms. I think I’ll be wearing this all year round.

Selecting black items

My black tops include a new cropped blazer from marksandspencer.com which is ideal for me, as I’m only 62 inches tall and I get easily swamped by longer blazers.

A structured jacket is popular with French women and gives a good contrast to all widths of pants.

There’s also a short sleeve black linen shirt from last year (Boden, out of stock) that I can wear on its own or as a top layer over a vest or tee. I’ve added a couple of vests and short-sleeved tees to complete the capsule so I have outfits for all weather – British weather is very unpredictable!

Black and white footwear and accessories

I had the straw tote bag from last year and they are still popular this summer. This actual bag is out of stock but M&S have even nicer straw totes this year here (UK). Or fabulous M&S straw tote here (US). I’ve also added a small black canvas bag (Primark I think) which I know I will be able to use for years to come.

For footwear I need to consider sitting about on some days and walking a lot on others. So I chose some very inexpensive black flat sandals for casual relaxing days, plus some ivory sandals from marksandspencer.com with a small block heel for when I want to look a little smarter. In addition, for days when I will be walking very far, I’m wearing my leather trainers bought a couple of years ago.

I’ve tried to show how a set of very simple clothes work together to give a casual classic French chic look.

To complete my summer wardrobe I’ll be adding some colorful cotton dresses to give a pop of fun and femininity when the sun comes out .

Links to clothes at Marks and Spencer US site

Links to clothes at Marks and Spencer UK site

What to read next

If you found this post interesting you can see all my other Capsule Wardrobe try-ons by typing Capsule into the search box (find the magnifying glass icon for searching).

Beige pants are a big ‘thing’ right now (Spring/Summer 2024). You can find my pick of the best here: Best Beige Pants and How to Style them in 2024.

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