The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe Guide for Men
If you’ve got any lady at all in your life there’s a chance you’ve heard the term “capsule wardrobe” come up alongside all those other things you hear like “Joanna Gaines is my secret lover” and “I’m going to shiplap our entire house”.
And yeah, a capsule wardrobe is an amazing thing, but its not just for the ladies. In fact, I would argue a mens capsule wardrobe works even better. But before I go on about why the heck you need one, I should probably tell you what it is first.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is like a tiny dose of a closet, like the capsules you get at the doctor to treat the unspeakables. It’s you taking a small amount of clothes (anywhere between 12-36ish pieces not including underwear/socks) that will work together in a variety of ways and only wearing those clothes. No more overshopping, no overstuffed drawers of free 5k t-shirts, and no 12 year old socks.
Honestly, a lot of guys already have a capsule wardrobe, even if you don’t realize it. Think about the things you wear all the time. You’ve got a few pieces you love to put on over and over again, but you’ve got a lot of crap in there too that never sees the light of day. The stuff you love? That’s your capsule.
Sounds cool and all but…
Why do I need one?
You over shop or panic shop. You’ve got a date that’s already seen your three nice shirts, so now you need a fourth!
Your closet is erupting yet you still have “nothing to wear”. More likely you just don’t know how to use what you have and have given yourself too much choice. Think of it like this, if I told you to choose between winning 1 million dollars or your one true love, you could make that choice pretty easy (no right answer here). But, if I said choose between 1 million dollars, your one true love, having the skills of Batman and Superman combined, being automatically qualified for any job you want, and 10 other amazing choices, you’d probably be paralyzed. You can’t make a quick decision. Now think about how you do that every.single.morning. which leaves you reverting to the easiest and closest clothing you can find. You made a choice, but was it the right one?
You just plain want to dress better. A capsule wardrobe can be a good introduction to figuring out your personal style without overhauling your entire closet with a ton of pieces.
You already kinda have a capsule but want to refine it or add to it.
How do I make a capsule wardrobe?
Purge that closet. A capsule is a lot about knowing your style and what works for you, so you have to get rid of all the shiz clogging up your closet that isn’t your style, no longer fits, has stains/rips or is otherwise unwearable, or leftover from Comic-Con. Not to say you can’t keep that sweet dragon outfit, but it probably doesn’t belong in your capsule wardrobe.
If you’re really feeling it or struggling to figure out what to get rid of, try reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It is essentially going on a closet-cleaning acid trip without the side effects.
Just keep all of the things you love most and feel great in and chuck the rest.
Now curate like you’re a social media manager for the newest indie brand that will revolutionize socks. It’s great to have pieces in your closet that you LOVE, but you have to figure out how they work together.
From the pieces you decided to keep you now need to decide what will be in your capsule wardrobe. Not every piece will have a place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it for a special occasion or a bad day.
Every piece in your new capsule needs to be versatile. If you can figure out how to wear a tuxedo in everyday wear, more power to you, but more likely you’ll be looking for pants that go with multiple shirts
Find holes. Gotta be an innuendo in there somewhere…
No, really. After you pick out what pieces you want in your capsule, figure out what you need to make it complete.
Maybe you don’t have any great shoes, or you’ve got a ton of great fitting pants but only one good shirt. Maybe you live in tees but want to step up your game or add a blazer for the Zuckerburg look.
Add personality. Come on, you won’t get anywhere with a white tee and dad jeans.
Your closet does not have to be the next big thing, you aren’t Givenchy or Kanye.
But, it has to be you. We can smell insincerity ten miles away. Most minimalists will tell you to only wear solid colors because everything goes with everything! Maybe that works if you aren’t depressed like half of the population.
Add in colors that you like, patterned shirts, bow ties, a damn good watch, or even just a suave haircut. Choose one area of your closet to add personality and keep the rest fairly simple.
Before you go gung ho buying out J.Crew for your new wardrobe, make sure it’s appropriate for your lifestyle.
Don’t make an all t-shirt and jeans wardrobe if you work in a corporate office, and don’t make a wardrobe with Seville Row suits when you work for a start-up. Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle with business casual and leisure, so keep that in mind.
Want to get fancy with it? Read this.
Gimme an Example.
Here’s what I would do with a capsule wardrobe. It should be small but not so small that you have to do laundry every other day. Neutral but add some color or pattern for fun and interest. But most of all, make sure everything fits!
Prefer to write it down? Here’s the list of each piece and the number you should have as a bare minimum. I’ve linked out to some of the time tested products for each of these items to save you that time and some bucks.
3 Basic Tees - keep these plain, no graphics.
3 Dress Shirts - Solid or Patterned
1 Casual Jacket - Like a field jacket, a bomber, etc.
2 Casual Button Downs - Make sure these can be worn untucked if you’d like
Long Wool Coat - Good way to class up the place
2 Pairs of Jeans - You could get by with one, but should you?
3 Pairs of Chinos - This number can vary depending on your work environment, you may need more or may want to sub in some jeans
1 Pair of Joggers - The more flattering sweats
Optional Pair of Shorts - some men never wear shorts, some live in them for the summer. Up to you, honestly
Blazer - Always a good choice to dress up an outfit in a comfortable way, but by no means required
Belt - I would start with a brown one or black one of a flat leather, no weaves unless you want to look like an 80s mom.
1 Pair of Boots - a Chukka boot is a versatile semi casual shoe
Don’t worry, I won’t leave you flapping in the wind to put those pieces together. Check out these 8 outfits you could make for any occasion. By my count and some basic statistics, these 23 pieces should make approximately 72-90 different outfits.
That’s all there is to it. Take a Saturday and you’ll be able to put together a capsule wardrobe in no time. Use this capsule as a guide for the amount of items you should have and the amount of each type, but the colors, patterns, etc are all up to you!
If you need five pair of pants and want them all to be jeans, go for it! If you wear more dress shoes than sneakers, nix the converse. But you should keep the same rough number of each type, so 3 jackets or 3 pairs of shoes, etc.
Congrats, you’re on your way to looking ten times better than that other guy. Statistically proven, I assure you.