Style and Styling

Trying the French Outfit Formula

Happy day, Dear Reader!

One uninspired (Probably grey and rainy.) January day, I was scrolling through Pinterest, like you do… And ran across a Pinterest pin—that I now cannot find.

I screenshotted it thinking, I could use someone to tell me what to do for a couple of weeks, why not Carolyn? Who’s Carolyn? Carolyn Arentson of My Chic Obsession. Yes, She’s fabulous.

And yes, she’s the same Carolyn Arentson for whom I wrote about why Midlife is the BEST Time for Style.

I needed a break from decision making, so I tried the French Outfit Formula! (Or maybe it should be a French Outfit Formula?)

For about 3 weeks.

How did it go? The short answer:

I was dressed.

I felt appropriate wherever I went.

I appreciated the simplicity.

It was subtle style.

It was a GREAT style cleanse! (I still have to figure out exactly what that means. But the wording feels right.)

It created a few dressing-for-church issues. So I added in as needed for that.

The outfits I built with the formula felt more like my relaxed-weekend-style. M-F, I need some more spark!

Sooo, what’s Carolyn’s French Outfit Formula? Here you go!

Worn On Repeat:

  • Black (Faded) Jeans + Striped Tee + Moto Jacket + Nude Flats or Ankle Boots.
  • Blue Jeans + White Tee-ish Thing + Blazer + Ankle Boots or Nude Flats.
  • Jeans (Either pair) + A Navy Sweater (Subbed for Turtleneck, our weather doesn’t merit turtleneck regularly!) + Nude Flats or Ankle Boots.
  • Red lips.

What I Skipped:

  • Trench Coat–I did wear my lilac pink raincoat, though!
  • Gold Hoops–I substituted silver.
  • A buttondown? I grabbed my soft denim blouse. It has buttons, so that makes it a buttondown of sorts, right?
  • Black heels. (I don’t own a pair. But I’m coveting these.)
  • LBD? I wore it once. (It’s SUPER casual.)
  • Sneakers. Once. Just not me. (Unless I’m out for a walk!)

What I Rediscovered:

  • My Pearl Earrings.
  • Super apppreciation for my berets. Yes, I own more than one. Is that embarassing? TBPH, I thought a beret in the list was silly and cliche, but once I got going it made me immensely HAPPY!
  • The power of a Red Lip! It creates intstant polish. (Do you struggle to find the right red lip? You’re not alone.)
  • How much zing my snake booties add to an outfit. They are neutral but still pack pow!

What I Didn’t Understand:

Handbag as one of “pick two.” I mean, how do you go out without a bag for running errands? If I am taking Mama anywhere, I have a tote bag to carry her things. Even alone, when I travel by car or bike, I need a place to keep my wallet, sunglasses, mask, lip balm and wipes. Sometimes, it was just going to be a “pick three.” What was I going to do? Wipe off my lipstick or remove my earrings just because I picked up my handbag? Nope. Nor do I think she meant for us to do that!

What I Missed:

  • COLOR! (Thank goodness for a pink beret!)
  • Spark.
  • My scarves.
  • Multiple necklaces. Heck. Any necklaces!
  • Statement earrings.

What I’m Thinking:

It might be fun to try and create my own Pick One/Pick Two Outfit Builder. I’ll look back at My Daily Dozen (Spring/Summer), use that as a starting point and see where it goes! If it’s going on Fall/Winter for you, here’s My Daily Dozen for the colder months

Now to play around and figure out into which section of the Pick One/Pick Two structure these items fall. AND what I need to add to round it out. Carolyn’s list has 5 items in each of the 4 categories, so 20 total.

How About You?

Does dressing from a Pick List or formula sound good to you? Have you ever tried it? Would Carolyn’s list work for you? What might you leave out? Sub in? Do you own a beret? Do you wear it? Do you think it’s embarrassing to own more than one? Have you determined your personal Daily Dozen? Do tell! I love to know what you’re thinking…

Stylishly yours,


  • Sally in St Paul

    Hey Liz, I just discovered that you are back! It’s good to hear from you.

    I could see using this to create some easy base outfits but they wouldn’t be accessorized enough for my style. (I do not do “simple, effortless polish” type looks.) I hear you on the accessory pick 2 – if you are going out, you’ll almost certainly have a handbag and not remove your earrings or lipstick to do it! I also don’t like empty earlobe holes so I almost always put on at least small gold or silver stud earrings. I have never owned a beret, and I’m just not a hat person except for functional hats for the weather. The accessory pick 2 definitely needs jaunty silk square scarves as an option! The striped top + little floral silk scarf feels like classic French chic. Am I the only who found the first pick 2 confusing with both topper layers and bottoms in there? Like, am I gonna layer a trench coat over a blazer and not wear any pants?? The limitation to either straight leg (blue) jeans or black jeans would be really tough on me after about a week!

    • Liz K

      Thank you, Sally! It’s good to be back, even if things are still a bit higgledy-piggledy. I felt naked on “the formula” for a few days, myself, but it felt like a great palette cleanser if that makes any sense. It made me much more judicious about my accessory selections! I’m still trying to create my own pick-list… We’ll see how it goes!

  • Lise

    I have been looking at French outfits on Pinterest for more than a year now and love the idea of simplistic chic. Looking at your lists I seem to be wearing a French outfit formula in winter every day without realising it! I wear black or dark blue denim jeans, a turtleneck, a short fitted navy puffer jacket (too cold for blazers and trenches here), ankle boots, stud earrings instead of gold hoops and lipstick. Of course a handbag when necessary. Who knew? As for a beret, I do not own one and would not wear one. We had to wear them in Primary School in winter so I have a poison eye for them. The girls wore them like pancakes on the back of their heads and they did look ridiculous. My stylish Mom would place mine at a jaunty French-style angle and I felt quite conspicuous. I was still at that age when being different was not cool. That all changed at 13 years of age 🙂 Now I do have to wear a beanie in the cold. I have co-ordinating gloves to try maintain a level of chic-ness if at possible in a beanie!.

    • Liz K

      Oh, Lise! Pancake berets would poison me for life, too! I’d love a beanie, but with my short hair (And small head) beanies make me look like a bald pinhead!


    Liz, For a short time period it would be nice to dress from a list of pick two/pick one!!! I couldn’t see going without a handbag as a option either!! I don’t own any beret’s now!! I haven’t decided what my dozen is at this time!! I’m more of a plain clothing but great accessories women!!!

  • Vickie

    I don’t have a beret but have a tweedish newsboy cap to hide day before haircut hair.
    (Why is it that a short haircut goes bad in 24 hours)

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