How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe for Guys

How to build a capsule wardrobe for guys

If you're not yet familiar, the term "capsule wardrobe" is a phrase coined by London boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s to describe a curated selection of versatile clothing that can be worn in different combinations to create a total wardrobe.

Perhaps it's the link to a fashionable boutique owner, but the concept of a capsule wardrobe has traditionally been viewed from a female perspective. However, there's no reason why it can't also apply to a male closet. In our less-is-more, Marie Kondo-centric cultural moment, it's increasingly fashionable for both genders to edit down their wardrobes to the essentials, which not only provides more living space and saves money, but can also take the guesswork out of getting dressed each morning by ensuring that every item in your closet can pair effortlessly with the next.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

In a nutshell, a capsule wardrobe is a personal style that allows you to wear fewer pieces more often. How does that happen? Think of it in terms of a minimalist approach. Instead of owning a ton of clothes, you only own high-quality essentials that you can mix and match so you have more outfit choices with less. Not only does this save you time from decision-making on what to wear every day, but it’s also a more sustainable way to live as you can buy less often. The best thing about a capsule wardrobe is that there is no incorrect way to start one since it all depends on your style so it’s still personal. By the time you’re done putting your capsule wardrobe together, you should only have all of your favorite pieces to wear.  


For the purposes of a capsule wardrobe, just three pieces of lower-body clothing are required: a good pair of jeans, chinos, and dress pants (we'll get to those second and third entries later). Today, jeans come in a seemingly infinite array of colors, washes, and even pre-distressed details. For your capsule wardrobe, you'll want to select the most versatile pair of men's jeans available, as it will serve as the most commonly worn element in the collection. We'd advised finding a pair in a dark wash, without any distressed details. A dark wash can be worn casually with a men's flannel shirt or dressed up with different button-down shirts and blazers.

Flannel shirts

The days when a flannel shirt was considered the exclusive provenance of lumberjacks and 90's grunge bands are long gone. Today, the humble flannel shirt is something like the new men's button-down oxford cloth. It's become the present uniform of the ever-more-casual creative class and is worn in offices from Oakland to Hoboken. But at the same time, it hasn't lost its classic, All-American, rugged appeal. And that's fantastic, as it pairs just as easily with a pair of blue jeans or chinos for a slightly more tailored look.

No iron chinos

The other pant in your capsule collection should be a pair of chinos, which can be worn in professional situations, date nights, and more. To make things just a little bit easier (which, after all, is the entire point of a capsule collection) you can opt to have yours be non-iron, which will knock one more chore from your daily to-do list. Chinos remain casual enough to be worn with flannel shirts and rugby shirts, but can also complement a blazer.

Rugby shirts

We believe that the rugby shirt deserves just as much attention as its more popular cousin, the polo shirt, receives. Thanks to its long-sleeve design, the rugby shirt is suited for four-season wear, making it a remarkably versatile piece. It's just the type of thing you can throw on over a pair of jeans without worrying about having to plug in an iron. It can also be worn with a pair of chinos and a men's sport coat for a modern take on classic prep.

Dress pants

While we've been extolling the versatility found in a pair of chinos, they can't operate in every setting. If you find yourself in a more formal situation, such as a job interview, you will want to be sure that a pair of dress pants is in your rotation. We recommend finding a pair in khaki or grey, which will always match with the next item of importance: a blue blazer.

A blazer

There's a reason why the blue blazer has changed very little in the last two centuries. Originally conceived as a casual garment to be worn by English rowing teams, it's since evolved into an iconic piece of American tailoring. Whether there's an upcoming special occasion dinner on your calendar or simply a night out when you want to look your best, a blue blazer effortlessly matches with a button-down shirt and a pair of chinos or dress pants. That's not to say that blazers can only be worn in situations when you most look pressed and polished: trying throwing it over a pair of jeans and a rugby shirt for a casual look.

How to start a capsule wardrobe

Now that you know what a capsule wardrobe is and the necessary essentials, it’s time to give you tips on how to begin your own capsule wardrobe. Doing an overhaul of your closet can be overwhelming, especially if you have a ton of clothes or if you don’t have very much free time. The most simple way to begin is by taking the 10x10 challenge. This means you only take 10 items out of your closet and you only wear those 10 items for 10 days. This gives you some insight into what you can go without and what you can’t live without by putting the theory to practice. It allows you to assess and make modifications to pieces you thought you needed but didn’t so that you can get rid of those pieces first. Once you complete the 10 days it will be a lot easier to have a starting point. 

Are you ready to take the 10x10 challenge?


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