The Capsule Wardrobe

All too often, people look into their closets full of clothes and think one of two things:

1. For women: “I have nothing to wear.”

2. For men: “I don’t for the life of me have a clue as to how to put any of this together.”

This occurs as often as it does because when we shop for clothes we often do so without a strategy, much less paying attention to the long-term goal of building a workable wardrobe. Good image consultants and stylists will advise their clients in the beginning stages of wardrobe building to put together a “capsule wardrobe.”


The capsule wardrobe exists to keep things simple and versatile. For men’s professional wear, it consists of:

  • Two worsted wool navy suits, one solid and one pinstripe
  • Two worsted wool charcoal suits, one solid and one pinstripe
  • A few white shirts
  • A few blue shirts
  • Red, yellow, and blue ties
  • One white pocket square in cotton, linen, or silk
  • One pair of black shoes with belt to match
  • One pair of brown shoes with belt to match
  • Navy and charcoal dress socks

Mans capsule warbrobe items: suit, shit, and ties

The idea here is that nearly everything in the capsule can be combined with the other items in a foolproof way. Any suit will look good with any shirt, which will look good with any tie. The solid navy coat can function as a blazer in a pinch, and the pants can be worn casually when a jacket isn’t required.

This is money in the bank for the wearer in a couple of ways. In the figurative sense, this makes dressing simpler and ensures that you will look appropriately dressed for nearly any occasion, be it a wedding, funeral, job interview, or night out to dinner. In the literal sense, it allows the wearer to buy fewer items at a higher quality. This can save him money in the long run, as better made suits last longer and don’t need to be replaced nearly as often as their more cheaply-made counterparts.


So, what do you do after you have your wardrobe in place? “Charblue” suits (a greyish-blue color) are good workhorses to have in the stable. Brown suits, though they go in and out of vogue, are a smart alternative to charcoal. Plaid suits, suits with brighter colored stripes, and windowpanes can start coming into the mix too. Shirts in ecru, lavender, yellow, and pink are good options, as are ties in orange, green, purple, and pink.

However you decide to build your wardrobe after the capsule is full is up to you and, if applicable, your tailor. Take your time, experiment, and learn what your real likes and dislikes are. In time, you’ll be the best-dressed man wherever you go.

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