Trends come and go. Fads fade to black. Timeless style reigns supreme. For men who want to refine their style and transcend fads, crafting a capsule wardrobe can revolutionize how they dress. Don't you want to say goodbye to outfits that make you cringe two years from now? Of course you do!
Sit tight, and let's create a capsule wardrobe for men that's a beacon for timeless style. We'll start with a few fundamental principles, then dive into the pieces you need for an elegant, refined wardrobe ready to take on the journey ahead.
5 Principles You Need to Know to Create Your Perfect Capsule Wardrobe
Before you go off shopping, we need to discuss the principles that will guide your journey to refined style and timeless allure. They'll help you select the right pieces and create a sophisticated wardrobe you can enjoy for years.
Understated Designs - Avoid loud designs and overly-branded items. These items don't age well, and they violate our second principle.
Versatile Pieces - Aim to own pieces we can mix and match effortlessly. That's why our capsule wardrobe will have versatile pieces we can dress up or down depending on our calendar.
Neutral Colours - We're leaning on classic colours like grey, navy, black, olive, and brown. These understated tones make it easy to assemble timeless outfits that you can wear for different occasions.
Quality All the Way - We're not messing with synthetic materials in our timeless capsule wardrobe. Yes, the wool sweater will cost more than acrylic, but it will last longer, look better, and radiate sophistication everywhere you go.
Appropriateness - You could have a wardrobe of suits tailor-made in Italy, but if you work as an ER nurse, those suits won't see the outside world much. Think of your lifestyle and the pieces you can use to transition from weekday to weekend that also work for downtime and nights out on the town.
That's how we'll frame our creation of a capsule wardrobe. We'll focus on versatile pieces you can wear from a day in the office to a weekend sightseeing and everything in between.
Stay on Top of Your Game
Raise your hand if you have way too many t-shirts. Don't be shy. We all have t-shirts we've kept too long or given to us and didn't want in the first place. It's time to pare these back and get to essentials. But it's not just t-shirts that require a thoughtful approach. All of your tops should be versatile, high-quality, timeless, and, of course, stylish.
Here are the tops for your capsule wardrobe that transcend trends:
T-Shirts - Walk away from shirts with giant logos and complicated designs. We're going with three classic T-shirts in black, navy, and white or grey. You can wear them on their own or layer them with different outfits.
Polo Shirts - You can get away with owning one, but go with two for good measure. Choose a neutral tone like olive, navy or black for a smart casual option you can wear for the office or when you're off the clock.
Dress Shirts - The number of dress shirts you should have will depend on need. You'll need more than two if you wear one to the office every day. But you'll want at least a white, a light blue and a striped dress shirt for a timeless and versatile wardrobe.
Nail your dress shirt style with our Dress Shirt Guide for the Modern Gentleman.
Oxford Shirt - A white Oxford dress shirt will anchor your wardrobe with its heavier weave. It's a great casual shirt that you can dress up if needed.
Gentleman's Choice Casual Shirt - An Oxford is fantastic. But if you like a Paul Newman-esque rugged aesthetic, you'll want a denim or a flannel shirt. Wear it with your favourite denim jeans and create a timeless look as cool as Butch Cassidy.
We've set up shirts, but we're not done with tops. Let's get your sweater game in order.
Sweaters so Nice, You'll Wish It Was Always Sweater Weather
Layering takes more than throwing on an outer layer over a base layer. It takes a discerning eye to look polished (not puffy) in a layered outfit. Choose essential sweaters in natural materials like merino and cashmere to look cool and stay warm during the cold months.
Crewneck Sweater - The minimal and stylish crewneck is a staple in the modern gentleman's capsule wardrobe, so get yourself one or two. Wear it with a plain tee underneath or a dress shirt for a versatile piece you'll love for years.
V-Neck Sweater - Assemble a v-neck with a dress shirt and tie for the office to create a classic look that's all business. Go plain when you're out of the office to add an air of refinement to the festivities.
Athletic Crewneck or Hoodie - Throw on a cotton crewneck or hoodie on a grocery run or the gym for casual, laid-back days.
Cardigan - Don't get fooled into thinking a cardigan's an "old man" sweater. It's a great mid-layer you can wear over a dress shirt and under your blazer.
Cable-Knit Sweater - Whether you opt for a crewneck or cardigan, a chunky cable-knit wool sweater looks great with a cool breeze at your back and a warming spirit in your glass.
Turtleneck - Keep warm in a sleek, stylish black turtleneck that reminds you of Steve McQueen's iconic Frank Bullitt. Wear it with a blazer or a suit for a masculine look that always hits the target.
With your shirts and sweaters en pointe, it's only natural to match them up with your essential trousers.
Triumph in the Trousers for Your Capsule Wardrobe
When curating trousers for a timeless capsule wardrobe, prioritize understated designs, high-quality fabrics, and a mix of formal and casual styles to maximize wearability and enduring appeal.
Step outside in these trousers that give you clean, elegant lines:
Dress Trousers - Get a pair of dressy trousers (in addition to suit pants) for your foundational wardrobe. You can pair grey wool trousers with a sweater or a jacket for a smart casual look at the office.
Denim - Make sure you have a pair of slim-fit dark wash jeans to dress up for a night out with the guys. A light pair of denim looks great for spring, summer and the casual events on your calendar.
Chinos - Create timeless and elegant outfits with a pair of chino trousers. Get one in navy and khaki. Wear them year-round with a blazer or an untucked Oxford shirt to look sharp wherever you go.
Discover more about the essential trousers for the modern gentleman in our article: Trousers Every Man Should Own (And How They Need to Fit).
As for shorts for the summertime, we suggest adding these pieces to your capsule wardrobe:
Athletic Shorts - Whether you like to go on a refreshing hike or lift weights in the gym, two or three athletic shorts are a must.
Chino Shorts - Get those calves out when the sun's out. Grab chino shorts in navy blue and grey to keep your style sophisticated in the summertime.
If there's one rule you want to follow with shorts, it's "Say No to Cargo." Sure, the pockets come in handy. But those pockets and the fit make you look like you're carrying extra bulk.
Sophisticated Suiting with Flex Appeal
A well-tailored suit of fine materials and refined designs epitomize timeless elegance and style. They radiate confidence and symbolize refinement. The number of suits you own depends on whether or not you need a suit for work. As part of a capsule wardrobe, we've assembled the essential pieces you need to maximize versatility.
Navy Blue Suit - It's a workhorse that should be in every modern gentleman's wardrobe. You can wear it for a day in the office or an evening out with someone special.
Grey Suit - The darker the grey, the more formal the suit. Complement navy blue with a medium grey suit to give yourself another timeless piece that can serve you for years.
Linen Suit - Go with wool for your navy blue and grey suits, but you'll want something lighter for the summer. Look cool and feel fresh in linen or seersucker. A beige or off-white suit will help you bring the heat for a day in the office or an elegant summer wedding. Speaking of summer suits, read No Sweat: A Guide to Staying Effortlessly Cool in a Summer Suit.
Blazer - Find yourself a patterned blazer with visual appeal. A blazer in a navy windowpane or a grey herringbone is a fantastic piece you can pair with your chinos or dress trousers.
Flexibility is critical to minimizing your wardrobe and maximizing your style. Wear separates to mix and match your jackets and trousers. It's a great strategy to get the most out of the different pieces in your wardrobe.
Looking for more ways to elevate your suit game for the season? Read Refining Spring Suits for Men so You're in Full Bloom and Styling Fall Suits for Men that Achieve Effortless Elegance.
It's Gotta Be the Shoes
Take your style above the rim in versatile classics and refined essentials. Here are the shoes you need for your timeless capsule wardrobe:
Brown Leather Oxfords - A plain-toe Oxford shoe in cognac will serve you well in the office, at a wedding, at job interviews, and at any event when you want to dress to impress.
Black Monk Strap Shoes - Change things up in the office with black monk strap shoes. You'll love pairing its elegant and unique style with your grey or navy suit.
Sneakers - Keep it casual and cool with clean sneakers you can wear every day between picking the kids up at school or grabbing groceries. A pair of Stan Smiths or Jack Purcells have a timeless silhouette that looks dynamite with denim or chinos.
Athletic Shoes - Break a sweat in shoes built for your activity. Whether it's running shoes or trainers for lifting weights, get the shoes that support you to stay comfortable and injury-free.
Lace-Up Boots - Show off your rugged refinement in brown leather boots. They look great with dark wash jeans or wool trousers as you go on weekend outings in the city.
Boots for Your Weather - Get yourself boots for the rain in Vancouver or the snowy weather in New York. You'll be more comfortable, and your other shoes will last longer.
Loafers - A versatile pair of loafers are great for daily wear. They're easy to slip on when cruising the boardwalk in shorts or having lunch on a patio.
Find out more about the shoes every man should own in our article: It Must Be the Shoes: The Shoes Every Man Needs to Own.
Coats and Jackets: Lay on the Sophisticated Style
Sorry to break it to you, but you will have days when you have to deal with cold winds, sleet and snow. Face those days in style with the jackets and coats in your capsule wardrobe.
Overcoat - Grab a coat to layer on top of your suits. Choose a classic colour like camel, black or charcoal grey to look stylish from 9 to 5 every day of the week.
Peacoat - Flex your fashionable side in a heavy navy wool peacoat. Find a peacoat that fits your body and keeps the cold out.
Rain Jacket - Go with a waterproof jacket, not water-resistant. You can thank us later when caught in a sudden rainstorm.
Casual Jacket - For cool spring and summer days, a Harrington or bomber jacket will suit you just fine. Their timeless construction in classic colours makes a great addition to your capsule wardrobe.
Dig deeper into the details that make these jackets essential to a capsule wardrobe. Read The Jackets Every Man Should Own (Or You Should Own).
Ace it with Your Accessories
Almost there! We have one last section to close out your timeless capsule wardrobe: accessories.
Navy Grenadine Tie - If you only own one tie, make it the Navy Grenadine. It's great for your formal events, job interviews or a day at the office when you want to wow a client. Why do they call the Navy Grenadine the ultimate navy tie? Find out in Navy Grenadine: The Ultimate Navy Tie.
White Pocket Square - A tight white pocket square in a TV fold adds sophistication to your navy and grey suits.
Leather Belt - It does more than keep your pants up. Rich leather belts in black and brown give you a look that's put together and complete.
Watch - An elegant watch beats clumsily taking your phone out to check the time.
Beanie - That's a toque to us Canadians. They're great for keeping warm during the cold months.
Sunglasses - Iconic eyewear like Wayfarers or Persols will keep you looking stylish and the sun out of your eyes.
There you have it. You've got a capsule wardrobe for men that withstands the test of time. Now you're armed with the sartorial knowledge to put together stylish outfits effortlessly.
Don't feel you have to get these all at once. It takes time to assemble a capsule wardrobe. The beauty part is that if you buy high-quality materials, these items will last years.
If there's an essential item we missed. Or, if you want to advocate for a particular piece, we're all ears! Email us at email@example.com or message us on Instagram (@aklasu).