How to Build a Men's Capsule Wardrobe to Make Getting Dressed Easy in 2024

Options for winter, spring, summer, and fall

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Bearbottom Clothing / Everlane / Allen Edmonds / Vuori / Thursday Boot Co / Truewerk / Nike

Building a capsule wardrobe isn't an easy task, but it's one well worth it once the mission is accomplished. When you boil it down to the basics, fashion is and has always been about the basics (white t-shirts and a simple pair of jeans for example) and the staples. As long as you have your standard tops and bottoms essentials—you can mix, match, and create tons of different combos to play around with. If you really want to take things up a notch, then the basics in your capsule can serve as the foundation for layering, meaning you can add however much (or little) you want to complete your outfit. You may have some questions as to how to go about getting started with building your capsule wardrobe, you might even think the task is a bit daunting. That's where we come in. Camp collar shirts, white sneakers, loafers and more are all great go-tos to have as starters in your closet. Today we'll be showing you the ins and outs of how to build a men's capsule wardrobe from head to toe.

Don't worry, we're going to have a blast!

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What is a capsule wardrobe?

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First we have to start by answering the question of what a capsule wardrobe even is in the first place. In short, a capsule wardrobe is a simple yet carefully curated collection of clothes that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits, which in turn maximizes your closet potential. Remember when you were a kid and your parents always put an emphasis on buying and working with the basics? They were building you a capsule a wardrobe even if you didn't know it (or your parents didn't quite know there was an official name for that).

Things to consider when putting your capsule wardrobe together:

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Getty Images

When putting together a capsule wardrobe, it's important to start from the bottom and work your way up. Perhaps a pair or two of jeans, and then a couple of other neutral pants in the form dress pants, khakis/chinos, some joggers/sweatpants etc. If you want, you could add a pair of shorts that's based on your personal style as well. After you've decided on the bottoms, it's time to make a move to the tops. Now you are going to need more tops than bottoms just as a general rule of thumb because this is where the mixing and matching will come in.

If you can get about about twenty to twenty-five shirts that range in different styles with layering ability such as short sleeve, long sleeve, button-up, etc., then that's a good start with having a variety to work with for rotating seasons (and if you feel you need to add more you can). As for shoes, we'd say about four to six is the sweet spot. Sneaker/shoeheads may be reading this in dismay, but if you are keeping it simple, a couple of sneakers, a couple of pairs of sandals, and a solid pair or two of boots for the fall and winter is more than enough to make it work. Again, we're just talking about the basics

Inspiration: If you love a 70s rock aesthetic, you might want a leather jacket. If you love a more preppy style, it would be better to opt for some cardigans. The basic idea remains the same across most capsule wardrobes: you need a light jacket and a heavier jacket. That said, it's important to consider some of your style inspiration for deciding what pieces are most important to you.

Color palette: When it comes to capsule wardrobes, it's all about the neutrals as neutral colored clothing is the most versatile. Colors like black, white, beige, navy, and grey work well with just about everything, and have great layering ability. Case in point—you can put a blazer over a white t-shirt and chinos to create a semi-casual look that works for the office, but then you can take off the blazer and instantly have a look that is more casual for running errands after work. If you want to include bolder colors in your palette you absolutely can, but you just have to understand they may not be as easy to pair with other items in your closet.

Climate where you live: Where you live is important as well if we're talking about building a capsule wardrobe to last you year-round. For example, if you live in an area that's hot all year long, you can probably ditch having a variety long sleeve shirts with the exception of one or two for those rare chilly days. If, however, you live in a place that experiences all four seasons, you'll need to plan accordingly if you aren't the type that switches out your closet seasonally.

Essentials to include in your capsule wardrobe:

This is sort of answer that depends on you and your personal live. Do you have a uniform or set outfit that you are required to wear to work such as a suit? If so, that takes away the mixing and matching that would come from having to wear something "new" everyday. Working from home definitely takes that a lot of that out of the equation as well, so your work outfits are definitely something to keep in mind. As for outside of work, jeans are a staple that can be great to work with. So can chinos. If you steer towards street and athletic style, then a neutral color pair of joggers is an essential, and so are t-shirts. We consider blazers to be essential closet items as well because while most associate them with the office, they can also be worn on dates, to events, and more.

This is definitely more of a "style personality" element, so make sure to keep that in consideration when picking.

1. White T-Shirt

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Hanes T-Shirt

If you're going to start with anything, start with a white tee as it can be dressed up and paired underneath a nice jacket/blazer, dressed down, and/or worn by itself. Many regard white t-shirts as being the most important component of any wardrobe due to their versatility, so it wouldn't hurt to invest in a couple. This Hanes tee is a great entry-level option that features Cool DRI™ technology and is comprised of 100% polyester with a contemporary fit, making it a great option for most wardrobes.


2. Solid Button-down Shirt

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Bonobos Everyday Shirt

Button-down shirts are a classic clothing must-have, and should be included in every closet if you ask us. They present a professional appearance that can be worn to job interviews, business meeting, or even your actual job itself if the dress code allows. Button-down shirts also make for nice lunch date/date night wear as it has a formal look while still not being too dressy, and you can wear it on your casual outings as well. A winner all around.


3. Camp Collar Shirt

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J. Crew

Everlane Pique Short-Sleeve Shirt

Camp collar shirts are also a versatile statement piece that provides a different look when worn open as opposed to buttoned. You can also pair them with jeans, shorts, khakis, and even dress pants depending on the color and quality. Camp collars are an automatic—especially if you live in a warmer climate.


4. Plain Ribbed Tank Top

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Mack Weldon

Mack Weldon 18-Hour Rib Tank

If you want, you can rock a white ribbed tank by itself as tanks are definitely meant to "showcase the guns," but you can also wear them underneath/pair them with button-down shirts, camp collars, and even with certain blazers. Like we said, sometimes you've just gotta play around a bit.


5. Crew Neck Sweatshirt

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Mack Weldon

Mack Weldon Ace Crew Neck Sweatshirt

If you can manage to get one or two neutral color crew neck sweatshirts, then you'll be in good shape to start your capsule wardrobe as crew necks obviously go great with joggers and shorts, along with jeans. If you tend to veer towards athletic/athleisure style, then crew necks are a must.


6. Trucker Jacket

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Flint and Tinder Flannel-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket

For those that live in cooler climates (or for cooler days as a whole), a trucker jacket is another great investment because it technically works for all seasons including winter and spring, and trucker jackets as a whole can last for several years. You can rock with jeans/skinny jeans, chinos, and certain types of dress pants.


7. Darkwash Denim

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Everlane The Slim 4-Way Stretch Organic Jean

Some say that dark denim jeans are more flattering. We think that's more of a personal opinion, but we do know that dark jeans go very well with cooler neutral colors. Hoodies, blazers, t-shirts—those all go with dark jeans. The epitome of minimalism style, dark denim jeans are another capsule piece to add to your rotation.


8. Lightwash Denim

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Wrangler Cowboy Cuts

Same deal with light wash jeans which are easily mix and matchable. There's tons of styling options to go with some of our earlier suggestions such as the white tees, the camp collars, and the crew necks. In fact, the lighter color might make them more easily pairable than dark wash denim.


9. Chinos

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Charles Tyrwhitt

Charles Tyrwhitt Ultimate Non-Iron Chinos

Investing in chinos is another fashion rule because there's tons you can do with them. They offer a blend between casual and professional, and can be worn to many different functions. Chinos come in a wide range of cuts and styles, so as long as you're willing to do the work and seeing what goes well with them in your capsule, they'll work out for you.


10. Canvas Shorts

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Flint and Tinder 365 Short

We said earlier that you were going to need one pair of shorts to rock with in your capsule, and we think the best option for that are canvas shorts because they tend to be comfortable, made with cooling properties, and stretchable. You can pair canvas shorts with a variety of shorts, those crewnecks we mentioned earlier, or get a little fancy and add a blazer. It's up to you!


11. White Sneakers

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Nike Air Force 1 '07

And you tie your capsule wardrobe all together with the shoes. Those cargo shorts? White sneakers go with them. Those jeans we mentioned earlier? Oh, white sneakers go with them too. You want to know what else white sneakers go with? A white tee and a white tank. Want to know what's a simple but always effective outfit. A white tee, jeans, and white sneakers. Banger.


12. Brown Boots

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Perry Ellis

Perry Ellis Chris Boot

Brown boots can be the center piece to your outfit. A make or break if you will. Thanks to its neutrality, it can work with every clothing type we've listed above, and along with being a complementary piece, brown boots also contrast quite well. For example, brown can go with navy blue even though one is a warm color and the other is cool. See? We knew what we were doing by suggesting brown boots!

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Piece to Add for a Summer Capsule Wardrobe:

Carbon2Cobalt / Travis Matthew

Piece to Add for a Winter Capsule Wardrobe:

Buff / Canada Goose

Piece to Add for a Fall Capsule Wardrobe:

Charles Tyrwhitt / Zappos

What are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?

In addition to having the ability of creating multiple different looks and styles, having a capsule wardrobe also saves you money. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to always buy a new outfit for every event you go to, and there's absolutely a chance that you could find a workable outfit in your closet if you played around a bit. Now if you want to buy a new outfit for every upcoming function, by all means... but if you don't want to/aren't able to, having a capsule wardrobe increases the possibility of you not having to spend extra money.

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