What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a small series of clothing items that fit every basic dressing need a man might have. These pieces should be classic and of the highest affordable quality and may be mixed and matched to fit the parameters of each new occasion. I have compiled a series of items to get us started on on our journey toward looking great each and every day.
A white, black and grey t-shirt.
A t-shirt is the most basic clothing item a man can own and it is a staple to every closet. However, don't take for granted the affect that a well made t-shirt can have. This item is crucial for layering, but it is important that quality is present for those occasions when it is too warm for that second layer. Additionally a quality t-shirt will last, and you want this item to last so that it may be worn over and over again.
Opt for white, black and grey because these colors are versatile. They match everything and may be dressed up or down. A company I favor greatly for a good t-shirt is Buck Mason, they took their time in making sure the cut looks great on everyone and their cotton fabric is hard wearing. At about 30 bucks per tee you can't beat the quality. If you find that 30 dollars per tee is still a stretch, the brand Everlane is another favorite of mine coming in at 16 dollars per shirt.
The White Buttondown Shirt
The Next Item to check off on your shopping list is a plain, white button down shirt. This is an item that leaves very little room for skimping, you should purchase the most expensive shirt that you can afford. Ideally this Shirt will be present for every business trip and vacation. Reason being that a crisp white button down whether tucked in or tail out gives the wearer a sophistication that is undeniable to any onlooker. The fabric of this shirt should be 100% fine cotton and smooth to the touch but not see through. These basic qualities are the tell all of any high-end shirt. Fit is essential here. The arms should be cut high into the arm pit, not constrictive but leaving little excess fabric around the upper arm. The collar of this shirt may be button down or a point collar that is simply up to the wearer. The shirt tail should be short enough that it may be left out of the pant waist without looking as though you stepped out in your night gown, but long enough that it may be tucked in securely for more formal occasions. Do your research before you purchase this item. Here are a couple of examples of ideal fit and quality. Pay close attention to the fit of these shirts.
A Black Merino Jumper
Not sure what to wear to that dinner with your significant other's parents? Just grab your black merino jumper. This item looks elegant with your grey trousers and casual cool with your dark jeans. Contrary to popular belief, merino's natural abilities make it a garment that can worn year round. Merino yarn is spun from the finer fibers making it soft on the skin. Wools natural crimp allows for air pockets in the fabric that keep you cool in the summer and retain body heat in the winter. Wool wicks moisture away from the body so one would have to try to make this garment smell allowing for more wears before it has to go to the dry cleaner. If you have a more narrow face go for a crewneck sweater but if your face is more on the round side grab a v-neck for a narrowing affect. Again, I can't say good enough things about Everlane for the quality and price.
Light And Dark jeans
There is not a single human on this planet that looks bad in the right pair of jeans. A military work pant turned uniform for the badass and the confident. A pair of jeans is probably the most versatile piece of clothing you will ever own. They look great with a t-shirt and get along with your navy blazer. In terms of fit I have one rule that is non negotiable in my personal opinion and that is the taper. The extent of the taper is entirely up to the wearer but its presence is a must. There is nothing flattering about drowning your stems in a straight legged abyss(see google search of mens 90s fashion). I understand that all legs are legs are different and I am no way promoting skinny jeans although I myself fancy a skinny. Just find a pair that feels comfortable but has enough taper to give some shape to the legs. Dark wash for all your casual nights out and a light pair for those coffee dates. I suggest the updated Levi's 501 for a gentle taper, mid rise and a variety of shades.
Grey Dress Trousers
I like the word trouser, there is something classic about the word that seems to be lacking in the word slacks. In a day in age where work attire is getting more and more casual there is no need to throw out all your sensibilities. Go for a pair of medium grey dress pants. A lighter shade of grey adds a lightness to any outfit that allows for whatever you're wearing on top to be center stage whereas a darker shade could muddle opposing colors adding a visual gloom. Seek out a pair of 100 percent wool trousers and if there is a designation look for a pair in the super 80s to super 120s range. These numbers refer to the number of times the wool has been twisted when being turned into thread. The higher the number the finer the wool but the less durable it will be. The ladder range will be a safe bet for longevity. Do some research before buying but if the price is low, generally something is up so prepare to spend a little more on this one.
I have this problem where I continuously buy white sneakers despite the fact that I need a variation in color, there is just something so good about a clean, bright pair of white shoes that I can't coax myself away from. This brings us to our next capsule piece and that is a white pair of trainers. Look for a low profile pair compliments the silhouette of the foot. In sneaker culture it is common to find shoes of a chunkier build that might look cool on the shelf but on your feet there is a visual imbalance that doesn't bode well. Most sneakers look better with age and dirt is just patina but try to keep this pair clean. The Kennedy from Thorocraft.
Brown Leather Oxfords
The simplest designation here is the closed toed lacing. This simply refers to the way the eyelet facings are sewn underneath the piece of the shoe known as the throat. many advisors would say that a capsule wardrobe should contain both black and brown dress shoes but for the sake of expense the safer bet is brown. Brown goes with any color of suit one could own and more seamlessly crosses from dress attire to a more casual get up. The idea of a capsule wardrobe after all is getting the most out of your pieces. Ideally you want your oxfords to be goodyear welted. This refers to the way the sole is sewn to the shoe's upper and it allows for the soles to be replaced time and time again. I like Jack Erwin. They make an assortment of styles that boast a similar quality to those shoes that are out of reach for most at a fair price. Jack Erwin Joe Oxford.
Because our oxfords are brown so must be the belt. If you decide to opt for a black shoe then you should also have a black belt. My best advice for belts is to search for something full grain and no more than an inch and a half in width. Any wider and you might give off the impression that your headed to the rodeo or haven't gotten over the wide belt, large buckle trend of the early 2000s. In terms of price, spend a bit more on this item and you will literally never buy another one again.
We did it guys! we made it through the capsule wardrobe post. This post was on the long side but it was necessary so that we could lay down the foundation for your stylish future. Now get out there and get your capsule wardrobe started, everything from here on out will just build on this information.
Thanks for reading!