This post originally appeared on Terumah, a blog for smart young women looking for fun insights on fashion, beauty, travel, art and pop culture without all the celebrity gossip and superficiality from traditional publications. 

This post is for two of my friends who have overflowing closets and nothing to wear. They told me they were missing quality basics and I suggested that they look up capsule wardrobes for ideas. I thought it would be great to make my version with ethical clothes, meaning the artisans who made them are paid fair wages and work in safe environments. Many of these pieces are also sustainable (environmentally friendly).

I don’t like to waste time thinking about what to wear in the morning so if I don’t have a particular outfit in mind, I tend to grab from my capsule wardrobe and call it a day. I have no problem with being unoriginal as long as I feel comfortable and look good.

(Also see: What to Pack for a Week in France.)

It’s actually hard not to look good with stuff from this collection, which is inspired by the French girl uniform. Everyone thinks Parisians are guarding this big secret in looking effortlessly chic when they really just invest in quality, tailored basics in versatile neutrals.

Ethical French Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Ideas

Some of these items are definitely investment pieces, but they’ll reward you in terms of cost per wear. Most are multi functional, so you can wear them to the office, on weekends, and out on the town. This is a general, seasonless roundup, but I’ll probably create season specific capsule wardobes soon.

To break it down by row:


Leather Jacket by Reformation. Made in LA from surplus leather. Goes with everything— floral day dresses, ripped jeans and band tees, and evening dresses. It’s best fitted, not boxy. Black blazers are usually in capsule wardrobes, but honestly, I don’t wear them. I’d rather wear black leather.

Trench Coat by Burberry. Made in England. If you want to invest in a classic trench coat, you might as well go with a Heritage Trench from Burberry, like the Kensington Trench. It’ll last forever and Burberry will tailor it for free to fit you perfectly. There are also other nice, ethical options from Reformation and Maiyet.

Black Dress by People Tree. Fair trade and made from organic cotton. This one is versatile enough for the office, nights out (with jewelry and high heels), or casual weekends (with flats).

ethical fashion button down dress shirt denim copy

Silk Button Down by Everlane. Ethically made in China. A silk shirt will class up any outfit, but it can also be fun and casual if the rest of your outfit is.

White Dress Shirt by Zady. Made in New York from organic cotton. I like this one because the buttons are mother-of-pearl, not plastic. Wear it with the top two or three buttons open, with the sleeves rolled up.

Denim Shirt by Master&Muse x Kuyichi. Wear it buttoned up and tucked in for a formal look, throw it on over a band tee for casual days, or use as a bikini cover up at the beach. There’s also a nice one from Bluer Denim.

ethical fashion shirts cashmere sweater

Striped Breton Shirt by Saint James for J.Crew. Made in France. Originally the uniform for French navy seamen. The stripes made them easier to spot in the water. As seen on your favourite style icons, including Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn and James Dean.

Navy Cashmere Sweater by Everlane. A staple according to Inès de la Fressange. Pair it with white pants.

White Tee by Zady. Organic. White t-shirts are best worn a little loose for the effortless look. Good for most occasion, including the gym. Also options from Haircloth  & SupplyPeople Treeand Everlane.

See the rest of Annie’s outfit ideas on Terumah.