Do you ever look at the clothes in your wardrobe and think, ‘Jeez, I’ve got nothing to wear!’

When it comes to a man’s wardrobe, variety isn’t always a good thing. A bunch of clothes that don’t quite work together isn’t going to help you get dressed in the morning.

It’s better to do more with less and utilize the style power of the capsule wardrobe. But what is a capsule wardrobe, and how can you create one to suit your lifestyle and tastes?

You guessed it – that’s what we’re covering in today’s article:

  1. How Do You Build A Perfect Capsule Wardrobe?
  2. What Are The Rules Of A Capsule Wardrobe?
  3. Can A Capsule Wardrobe Become Boring?
  4. How Much Should A Capsule Wardrobe Cost?
  5. What Are The Cons Of A Capsule Wardrobe?

#1 How Do You Build A Perfect Capsule Wardrobe?

For most guys, the journey to creating a perfect capsule wardrobe isn’t so much about building up as it is breaking down.

It’s more common for guys to have too many clothes than not enough, so the trick is to understand what you should remove and then move on to what you should buy.

Chances are, you’ve already got a lot of capsule wardrobe essentials in your collection. We just need to save them from being buried under the mass of sub-par garments currently filling your closet space.

Identify What You No Longer Need

There are two certainties when it comes to the contents of your wardrobe:

  1. Your clothes will get older
  2. You’ll get older and change shape

With that in mind, it’s essential to first identify the clothes that are worn out and the clothes that you’ve outgrown.

It’s actually a straightforward process:

  1. Open your wardrobe
  2. Remove all of your clothes
  3. Identify the clothes that are damaged or don’t fit you anymore
  4. Identify the clothes that you would no longer wear
  5. Throw these items in the trash

In fact, I want you to stop reading this article right now. Don’t read on until you’ve done this because it’s an essential first step towards the perfect capsule wardrobe.

Identify What Items Are Missing From Your Wardrobe

capsule wardrobe infographic

By nature, a capsule wardrobe is very simple. You’ll probably already have several of the items required to create one. However, each item in a capsule wardrobe is vital for creating versatility and interchangeability.

As such, ensure you have ALL of the following:

  • A dark three-piece suit (black, charcoal, or navy)
  • A blazer (in a different color to your suit)
  • A leather jacket (bomber or biker, you choose)
  • 4 formal button-up shirts (2 white, 1 light blue, 1 pink)
  • 2 casual button-up shirts (1 checked, 1 plain)
  • 5 t-shirts (2 white, 2 black, 1 navy)
  • 2 pairs of Jeans (1 dark, 1 light)
  • 2 pairs of slacks/chinos (1 dark, 1 light)
  • 2 belts (1 black, 1 brown)
  • 2 pairs of dress shoes (1 brown pair, 1 black pair. Derby and Monk Strap shoes work well)
  • 1 pair of sneakers (plain white)
  • 1 pair of military boots (black, brown, or oxblood)

When it comes to underwear, don’t worry about restricting yourself. I don’t count these as part of a capsule wardrobe, as I wouldn’t want you skimping out on fresh undies every day!

Buy Items You Don’t Have

5 Tips To Buying A Quality Sweater - what is in a capsule wardrobe?

If you’re missing something from the list above, make it your priority to purchase as soon as possible.

Always remember to opt for quality over quantity! It’s better to buy 3 quality t-shirts that will last 10 years than 10 cheap t-shirts that’ll last 3 months. After all, a capsule wardrobe is all about impeccable quality and timeless style – you’ll achieve neither of these while wearing bargain basement clothing.

Am I saying you need to drop $1000 on a Tom Ford t-shirt? Absolutely not! To be honest, I think that’s going a bit too far the other way.

Instead, be intentional when shopping:

  1. Visit shops that might be a bit out of your price range and see if they have a sale rail.
  2. When shopping, pay close attention to the thickness and quality of the material. You’ll easily be able to identify the quality from the cruddy by how thick and robust the material is.
  3. List your ‘must buy’ garments in order of priority. If it’s summertime, you’ll want to prioritize quality shirts and trousers over a quality leather jacket – that can wait until the fall!

In short, I want you to think logically. We guys are logical by nature, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused with the mass of choice and consumerism out there.

Take a step back, assess your current wardrobe, and THEN make your move.

Leverage Your Wardrobe’s Interchangeability

Infographic - 16-Piece Interchangeable Wardrobe - Option 2

I’ve spoken a lot about the interchangeable wardrobe over the last 10 years.

In fact, I’d argue it’s one of the first things a man should understand in his journey towards becoming more stylish.

In short, you don’t need 1000 garments to create a varied look. Shop smart and buy the right items, and you’ll be able to create a vast number of different clothing combinations with only a small amount of foundation garments.

As long as you purchase items that work well together, you can easily live your life looking stylish with only 30 items in your closet. In fact, I’ve put together a 16-piece interchangeable wardrobe in the past, which highlights this very fact!

The capsule wardrobe we’re discussing today is like an extension of this basic 16-piece interchangeable collection. It gives you a bit more space to work, with things like t-shirts and casual shirts, but still holds true to the fundamentals of the interchangeable wardrobe:

  1. Invest in quality, not quantity – buy less but at a better quality
  2. Get the fit right – make sure your clothes fit you well according to classic style, not fashion
  3. Be mindful of colors – ensure your colors complement one another. You should be able to wear one of your shirts with at least 3 of your capsule wardrobe pants.

Today’s article is sponsored by Anson Belt & Buckle, makers of the micro-adjustable hole-less belt with an adjustable belt buckle.

Instead of 5 holes, 1″ apart like most traditional belts, Anson Belt offers 30+ options only a 1/4″ apart, allowing you to always achieve the perfect fit.

Anson Belt and Buckle

Click here to head over to Anson Belt and get a limited-time special offer – get one additional strap or buckle with your box set for free. That gives you 2 straps and 3 buckles for under $100… that’s 6 possible belt combos for under $100!

#2 What Are The Rules Of A Capsule Wardrobe?

I’ll level with you, gents. There isn’t some kind of rule book dedicated to creating the perfect capsule wardrobe.

Often, the rules you abide by when putting together a capsule wardrobe are individual and depend a lot on your lifestyle. However, I’ve put together a short list of recommendations for getting off to a good start to give you some inspiration.

Invest In Quality, Not Quantity

cheap vs expensive leather jackets

As with any purchase in life, it’s better to invest in quality than waste money on quantity.

Fast fashion is a big thing nowadays. Cheap and ‘fashionable’ clothes go in and out of style several times a year. In fact, I know a lot of guys who update their wardrobes every few months with the latest trends.

Not only is this terrible for the environment, but it’s also a colossal waste of money. Clothes aren’t single-serving; they should last you years and only get better with age! Just like a fine wine or classic sports car.

Anson belt and buckle - what is in a capsule wardrobe?

So my first tip to you is this: ignore the cheap clothes in fast fashion superstores and invest in high-quality brands that have been around for years.

Levis Denim is a great example – they’ve been selling jeans for over 100 years, and their designs haven’t changed all that much since the early days. The 501s are a classic and have been worn by men for decades, which shows two things:

  1. They’re top quality and will last forever
  2. They won’t ever go out of style

The trick is to look at the legacy of a clothing brand. They’re probably a safe bet if they’ve been around for a while and haven’t drastically changed their clothing range in the last 10 years.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Individuality

How To Match Different Patterns in a capsule wardrobe

Here’s the thing: you’re not going to look stylish if you hate your clothes.

Style is more than just the garments on your back; it’s also about your persona and confidence as a man.

So if you’re reading this and thinking, ‘but I love my Hawaiian shirt! Do I really have to throw that out and buy a plain white button-down?’

No! Of course not. Wear what you like and what makes you feel great. You should never sacrifice your individuality for the sake of timeless style. The trick is to work out how you can adapt your favorite garments to fit into your capsule wardrobe rather than expelling them altogether.

A big part of creating your capsule wardrobe is figuring out what to keep and what to throw in the trash. But if a particular item means a lot to you, keep it and wear it with pride! Chances are, your confidence and positivity will shine through and make you look all the better for wearing it.

Be Ruthless

Construction Of A Black Man’s Capsule Wardrobe

I know I’ve just said that individuality is important. However, that doesn’t mean you should cling to every item in your wardrobe and refuse to let go.

A lot of guys struggle with change. Trust me, gents, I get it – us guys are creatures of habit and find it hard to break that instinct. However, I encourage you to be ruthless when organizing your capsule wardrobe.

If you haven’t worn an item of clothing in the last 2 weeks, then throw it in the trash. This isn’t the time to get sentimental over that faded varsity shirt you haven’t worn in 10 years – be honest with yourself, put your feelings aside, and chuck that sucker in a black bag.

Your aim is to get less than 30 items in your wardrobe, so there’s no room for sentimentality. It’s a battleground, and only the most ruthless amongst you will make it to the other side.

#3 Can A Capsule Wardrobe Become Boring?

man looking bored in black suit and white shirt. what is in a capsule wardrobe?

Wearing the same clothes is just going to get boring – right?

Not if you use your capsule wardrobe correctly.

Remember, out of the 16 items in the interchangeable wardrobe I mentioned earlier, you could make a massive 256 outfits.

Considering your capsule wardrobe should be between 25 and 32 items, your possible clothing combinations increase exponentially!

However, to ensure that you can wear all of your clothes with all of your clothes, you need to be mindful of how you use color! After all, to maximize interchangeability, every item in your wardrobe should be compatible with any outfit you put together; they all need to work in harmony with one another.

To achieve capsule wardrobe harmony, you must understand Sir Isaac Newton’s Color Wheel.

Matching Colors To Create Harmony

infographic mens color theory

Your wardrobe should be made up of complimenting colors and monochrome ‘neutrals’ – white, black, and the two combined to make grays of varying darkness.

When planning your capsule wardrobe, observe the color wheel and choose from any three of these color plans:

  • Complimenting Colors: Colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel. These color combinations are great for people who want to present themselves as powerful or ‘stand out’ – the strong contrast in tones creates a striking image.
  • Triad Colors: Tones that are at equal distances from one another on the color wheel. Typically, these colors will be separated by three other colors – for example, the bright yellow, blue and red are all equal distances away (with three different colors in between them). Triad colors are a great way of varying colors in an outfit without having one garment stand out more than the others.
  • Analogous Colors: Colors that sit adjacent to one another on the color wheel. To find these, choose your main color and see what two colors sit on either side of it. Use these three colors in your outfit to find a muted color scheme for more conservative environments.
Man in blue suit - what is in a capsule wardrobe?

Do you have to stick to this color wheel exactly? Probably not – sometimes it’s hard to match every single item in your wardrobe. However, it would help if you aimed to purchase clothes that are as closely matching as possible – the closer they match, the more interchangeable they’ll be.

Using Accents In A Capsule Wardrobe

Pocket Squares

You’ll have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about accessories yet. There’s a good reason for that – accessories shouldn’t be constrained by the color matching rules of the capsule wardrobe.

To avoid that ‘boring’ feeling of wearing perfectly matched outfits, use accessories to add a spark of individuality to your otherwise regimented wardrobe.

For example, you might have chosen blue, red, and white shades for your capsule wardrobe. Great! Your clothes should match well and be very interchangeable! However, there’s no harm in using a brightly colored pocket square to act as a well-placed statement piece!

how to wear suit without tie

Accessories are a great way of accentuating your individuality while still sticking to a well-put-together wardrobe. They’re the items of clothing that say, ‘Sure, I’m a well-dressed guy. But I also know how to make a statement when I want to.’ Stuck for ideas?

Why not try:

  1. A bright NATO strap for your watch
  2. A ring with a colored gemstone
  3. A boldly patterned pocket square or tie
  4. A peacock feather lapel pin

I’m trying to say that you don’t have to box yourself into a capsule wardrobe. Use it as your base foundation and add subtle accents using carefully chosen accessories.

#4 How Much Should A Capsule Wardrobe Cost?

man buying tie and check phone

The cost of your capsule wardrobe depends on your budget.

Some guys might want to spend a few thousand bucks on their clothes – if they’ve got that kind of money, then good for them! But some guys might be sitting on a budget of $200 and wondering whether or not they’ll be able to afford quality garments.

Don’t worry – if that sounds like you, you’ve got plenty of options.

However, let me start by being brutally honest. If you need to buy an entirely new wardrobe, $200 probably won’t be enough cash. That’s the bad news out of the way.

The good news is, you don’t have to buy everything all at once. As I mentioned earlier, prioritize according to your current lifestyle and climate. Buy what you need now, and then save up some cash to finish your wardrobe when the next season comes around.

smart casual man at desk

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you’re a work-from-home freelance programmer and you’ve decided to create your capsule wardrobe – it’s early June, and the sun will shine from now until September.

You’re a freelancer, so chances are you won’t need a suit seeing as you work from home. It’s also 80ºF outside, so a leather jacket won’t suit that kind of heat. Will you need heavy military boots in the middle of summer? Probably not!

With that in mind, you should focus on buying pants, t-shirts, a few linen button-downs, and a pair of good-quality trainers. Sure, you might need a suit in the future, so start saving. However, it’s not a necessity right now, so it can be dealt with at a later date.

That’s what I like to call smart shopping. As the Beatles once said, you can’t always get what you want, but you might find you can get what you need.

#5 What Are The Cons Of A Capsule Wardrobe?


As with any style choice, there are always setbacks to be aware of.

Though they are few, the capsule wardrobe does have a few cons that make other ways of dressing more appealing to some men.

Firstly, some guys find it challenging to adhere to strictly ‘timeless’ clothing items. Many guys want to keep up with current trends and wear clothing that makes them feel more in touch with popular culture.


To those guys, I say good for you. Enjoy your clothing, but the capsule wardrobe isn’t for you.

It’s also important to note that adapting your collection to meet the requirements of a capsule wardrobe can end up costing you money. For some guys, it just isn’t worth the expense! I get it – you’ve got a family to feed and bills to pay – that stuff has to come first.

However, many men would say that one of the cons of a capsule wardrobe is that everyone starts to look and dress the same. To those men, I say reread this article – I think you’ll find plenty of information that proves that NOT to be true!

For more inspiration on building your perfect wardrobe, check out my guide on dressing better as a man and developing a signature style.

Check out this video on how to Own LESS Clothes Yet Build MORE Outfits. Steal THIS Minimalist Style Philosophy:



What's The Point In A Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is similar to an interchangeable wardrobe.. It provides the opportunity to create lots of different outfits with only a few clothing items. The capsule wardrobe is all about sticking to the timeless rules of style and avoiding ‘fashion trends’ which will go out of style and make you look like a fool in the future.

What Stops a Capsule Wardrobe From Getting Boring?

One word: variation! Using interesting accessories to show your personality in your capsule wardrobe is essential. It will allow you to keep things fresh and show a bit of color and pattern when creating your capsule wardrobe outfits.

Where Should I Start When Creating My Capsule Wardrobe?

Simple – look at the items you don’t have and start there. Look at the current season you’re in as well as your current life situation, this will help you decide which items of clothing are more urgent than others. If you work in a big city office, chances are a good dark suit will be more important to you than white t-shirts.

The post What Is In A Capsule Wardrobe? appeared first on Real Men Real Style.

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By: Antonio
Title: What Is In A Capsule Wardrobe?
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Published Date: Thu, 02 Jun 2022 11:59:00 +0000

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