Getting dressed every morning should be fun, so why does it feel like a chore? Pairing the right comfortable sneakers with your men’s t-shirt, and finding a jacket that’ll keep you warm and looking stylish, it can be a lot before you’ve even had coffee.
Sure you could plan out your outfit the night before, but that adds work to your evening routine, when you probably want to be bingeing the latest drama series on HBO Max. Instead, we recommend you opt for a capsule wardrobe, and take the guesswork out of getting dressed for good.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is the latest way to organize your closet around a collection of basic pieces that you can mix and match, and pair with each other so no matter what you’re looking good, and you don’t have to think about it too much. All of the colors go together, and you’ve got only a few versions of all of your essentials so you cut down on waste, avoid storing clothing you never wear and make getting dressed far less complicated.
When we need fashion advice, we prefer to reach out to the experts. We sat down with Kareem Rashed, the Style Editor over at Robb Report, who gave us all the details we need. Note: quotes have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity where appropriate.
He explained “A capsule wardrobe is basically a modular approach to getting dressed…a concise, pared back selection of pieces that can be mixed and matched in any number of combinations,” said Rashed.
What Are the Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe?
Rashed noted that there are many pros and benefits to a capsule wardrobe including an easier time getting dressed, and an environmental impact as well.
“I think it’s appealing to a lot of people right now because, after lockdown and all those months at home, many of us realized that we only wear a fraction of what’s in our closet,” said Rashed.
“It’s very Marie Kondo: why do we need all that other stuff if it’s not sparking joy, or getting worn? Also, it’s intrinsically more sustainable—buying fewer, better things that you’re sure to wear for years to come.”
He also added that a capsule wardrobe makes shopping easier in addition to getting dressed, because you’ve added structure and definition to what you’re looking for, minimizing the chances of an ill-advised purchase.
“It takes the guesswork out of getting dressed. If everything in your closet is relatively neutral and timeless, you’ll look good no matter how you combine things,” said Rashed.
“And it also makes shopping less overwhelming—you have certain parameters and know what you’re looking for, which lowers the risk of buying something you’ll never really wear,” said Rashed.
What Should You Put in Your Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is centered around neutral colors and well-fitted, well-tailored pieces you know look good and are comfortable in. These are the general principles of the concept, but each wardrobe is different and can be personalized by each man depending on his style.
“One of the beauties of a capsule wardrobe is that it isn’t one size fits all—it can be tailored to each individual’s style and wardrobe needs,” said Rashed.
“That said, most guys have a few basic categories: shirts, trousers, sweaters, some kind of jacket and shoes. Within those categories, there’s a wide range of options and what’s essential versus just nice to have largely depends on the guy and his lifestyle. It’s a bit like a sandwich—there needs to be bread, meat, cheese, etc; what you choose and how you combine it is a matter of personal taste.”
We’ve selected a few of our favorite neutral pieces from brands we love, that would make great investments for a capsule wardrobe. Another tenet of a capsule wardrobe is minimalism, and investment in more durable pieces since you’ve got fewer of them in your possession. Instead of owning 10 cheap t-shirts and wearing them out quickly, you’ve got five that fit perfectly and will last for years.
Buck Mason T-Shirts
Buck Mason makes some of the best men’s t-shirts out of thick yet breathable material that hangs just right and lasts for years. They’re available in 11 different neutral colors, so you can pick up a few for variety while staying within the ideal confines of the capsule wardrobe. They’ve got a curved hem for a flattering silhouette and the 14 GSM cotton has a slub texture that’s thick and stitched flat for comfort.
Lululemon ABC Pants
Lululemon’s game-changing work pants for men are another strong contender for a capsule wardrobe. They’re made of comfortable, flexible, athletic fabric but have a sleek look you can definitely rock at the office or out for drinks. The Warpstreme fabric is made to adapt to anything, with an ergonomic gusset built with room and secure pockets for keeping EDC essentials safe.
adidas Men’s Stan Smith Sneakers
A good pair of sneakers is essential to any good wardrobe, especially a capsule wardrobe. They go with everything, are comfortable to wear and are a classic look everyone will recognize and appreciate. This particular design from adidas has a synthetic leather upper with color-shifting for an added effect. They also have a rubber cupsole for a cushioned fit.
Legendary Whitetails Men’s Buck Camp Flannel
A neutral flannel shirt is another great piece to add to your capsule wardrobe, as it can be dressed up or down, and serve as a hybrid shirt/jacket in the spring and fall. This one from Legendary Whitetails has a contrasting design with the collar and cuffs, and thick fabric for lasting durability. It’s double pleated for flexibility and movement, and the left chest pocket has a closable pencil pocket. This shirt also comes in 30 different colors, with a very affordable price tag.
Everlane The Uniform Bomber Jacket
A solid bomber jacket, like this one from Everlane, is another essential in your capsule wardrobe. A jacket or two is on the list, and a bomber is perfect because it’s stylish and utilitarian as well. They’ve got a flattering shape, are easy to layer on top of a sweatshirt or flannel for extra warmth, and tend to come in more neutral colors. This one from Everlane is available in navy, black, green and grey, and is made of water-resistant polyester.
Read More: The Best Men’s Bomber Jackets of 2022
Madewell Relaxed Taper Jeans
These relaxed, classic fit jeans from Madewell have a tapered leg that hits right above the ankle, for a comfortable yet tailored fit. They’ve got a low key 90’s vibe, and can work with a denim jacket, a sweater, heavier coat or t-shirt on a warmer day.
Read More: The Best Men’s Denim Trends of 2022
Vuori Kore Short
Vuori is a SPY favorite for men’s athleisure and these Kore Shorts are perfect for a spring/summer fall wardrobe. They have a classic athletic fit that falls just above the knee, and can be worn during an intense workout just as easily as they can at Sunday brunch. They have a boxer-brief liner inside as well for added comfort and support, in case you prefer to go commando.
How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe
We also asked Rashed how to transform a current, cluttered wardrobe into a capsule one, hopefully without needing to buy a bunch of new stuff. He broke it down into easy, simple steps anyone can use to consolidate their current collection into a streamlined version of what they wear the most.
1. What Do You Wear Most Often?
“I’d say the first thing is to pay attention to what you wear most. Is there a shirt/jacket/pair of pants that you reach for weekly? Those are the styles that should form the foundation of your capsule wardrobe,” said Rashed.
Listening to your existing behavior is one of the best ways to plan out a wardrobe filled with outfits you know you like, and will wear again and again. Rashed also recommended upgrading your current pieces into nicer, more durable versions, and potentially finding a tailor who can help with the perfect fit.
2. Upgrade and Hem
After you’ve identified the pieces you wear most often, and should build your wardrobe around, Rashed recommended you “upgrade them to the best possible quality you can afford and take them to the tailor—getting a sleeve or pant cuff to hit exactly where it should on your body can make a huge difference, and you’re likely to feel more confident wearing it.”
3. Hit All the Essentials
“If I had to prescribe pieces to get, I’d say: a suit you can wear as separates (fabric is key here, wool hopsack is a great all-rounder), a nice cashmere sweater for winter and a merino wool one for the shoulder seasons, a well tailored shirt (not necessarily fitted, just one that fits well), dark wash and black jeans, a pair of boots that can be dressed up, loafers and a pair of sneakers,” said Rashed.
“But that said, some guys only wear suits for special occasions, where others wear them five days a week; that’s why it’s important to begin by looking at what makes sense for you. And accessories like watches, scarves, hats, etc can add some personality and switch things up.”
Italian Stretch Wool Flannel Suit Jacket
This Italian Wool suit from Bonobos is perfect for dressing up in the winter, and can be worn as separate pieces if needed. You can also dress it up or down and the butterfly lined interior is constructed for optimal comfort.
Everlane The Grade-A Cashmere Crew
Another timeless, high-quality piece from Everlane that’s perfect for capsule wardrobes is this cashmere crew neck sweater. It’s made of soft, luxe cashmere that’s made to trap warmth and sourced from Inner Mongolia, for optimal quality. It also comes in four neutral colors, including this Heather Grey.