Updated: Mar 29
Capsule wardrobes. Why should you care? A capsule wardrobe serves as a great base of timeless pieces for you to add your own style on top of.
What every capsule collection should have?
Build a diverse portfolio. Your first step when planning a custom capsule wardrobe should be to invest in pieces that are both simple and versatile
1. Button-up shirts
Even if you don’t wear dress shirts to work, you should still have a few button-ups. Wear a white shirt buttoned up all the way under a leather jacket and a pair of jeans, and you've got a cool, casual look. Try a black, a white, a navy blue, and a light blue for your capsule wardrobe. As soon as you start to feel comfortable with your capsule wardrobe, layer on other colors, prints, and textures. Whether you prefer Oxford shirts or button-down shirts, make sure they fit you perfectly.
The workhorse of your weekday wardrobe, the white shirt is one garment you really want to get right. Life is simply too short to spend most of it wearing something that’s not up to scratch, especially when there are better versions so readily available. It’s a fashion writer’s cliché to describe a white shirt as “crisp”, but (Sam can indicate a piece that he recommends/sells). Do yourself a favour this year: buy five of these and never have to think about white shirts again.
A few Oxford shirts are almost as important as plain T-shirts when it comes to piecing together a capsule wardrobe. Pastels and light colours are always going to be good options here and in terms of how many you need, we’d say two or three is about right.
Dress shirts are vital. Kim Jones spent most of 2019 sending models down the runway for Dior wearing tailoring topless, but the rest of us should really be wearing shirts. A couple of high-quality – perhaps even made-to-measure – dress shirts will lay the foundation for your formalwear. We’d suggest sticking to white and sky blue in order to get the most out of them.
Knitwear is important in your capsule wardrobe, especially for the colder months. Choose something cozy in a neutral color, like camel, cream, beige, gray, or black. Having both a cardigan and a crew-neck sweater or pullover will allow for multiple outfit combinations. If a hoodie is more your speed, upgrade your basic cotton sweatshirt to a merino or cashmere hoodie. You only need one or two pieces of knitwear, or turtlenecks, at most.
Because this is a capsule wardrobe, keep these T-shirts very simple. A crewneck is a classic option. Choose neutral colors, like black, white, brown, gray, and blue. A simple white T-shirt can be dressed up or down to work with almost anything in your closet. A solid assortment of well-made T-shirts is the backbone of any good casual wardrobe. Go for plain, block colours for maximum versatility and stock up on black, navy, grey and white in particular – chances are, these are the ones that’ll see the most daily action. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking T-shirts should be cheap, though. Sure, you can pick up a plain tee from a high-street chain for less than a good coffee, but will it last more than two washes before becoming a crop top? Probably not.
First, white shoes. In the 1870s, casual shoes worn by vacationing and sports-playing Brits were known as “plimsolls.” These rubber-soled shoes crossed the Atlantic at the turn of the century and acquired the name “sneakers,” while classic Converse All Stars took off stateside after World War I. The market for sneakers continued to grow as school dress codes were relaxed across the country. The white sneaker “goes with pretty much every outfit that you could think of.” (Yes, even that suit.)
Then, Luxe Leather sneakers. There are many benefits to the general relaxing of menswear that’s been taking place over the course of the last decade or two. One of the key ones is the rise of premium sneakers. A pair of minimalist, luxury leather sneakers can cover a lot of bases. Wear them with your navy suit and a plain white tee tucked in, or simply team them up with a crew neck and jeans at the weekend.
Lastly, Canvas sneakers. Leather sneakers are great but they can pose a problem in the summer heat. Canvas is a more breathable option that provides much of the same versatility. It’s more of a challenge to find outfits they don’t go with than ones they do, making them the sort of sneakers that can be thrown on daily without thought.
5. Crew Neck Sweatshirt
Cosy, classic and preppy, a crew neck sweatshirt is one of the few garments that’s just as much at home on the sofa as it is paired with an Oxford shirt and chinos at the weekend. Look for something that fits well in the shoulders and has a relatively slim cut. Grey, navy and black are fail-safe hues that’ll never go out of style.
6. Unstructured Blazer
Not all social settings require a full suit, but casualwear doesn’t always cut it. For everything else, an unstructured blazer is the way to go. Wearing a tailored jacket with casual legwear is a big no no as the angular lines up top can look jarring in contrast to the laid-back look going on downstairs. The relaxed styling of an unstructured blazer maintains the balance without straying too far into either casual or formal territory.
Just like every classic rock ballad needs a guitar solo, every wardrobe needs a few marquee pieces. But tread carefully: these will be among the more expensive items that you’ll buy, so it’s vital to make sure that you’re investing in things that will actually hold their value. That asymmetric colorblock windcheater is lovely, really, it is – but are you sure that you’ll feel the same about it in a couple of years’ time…?
Whether it’s an overcoat, a denim jacket, a bomber jacket, or something heavier-weight, make sure you have a great piece of outerwear. A trench coat is a great place to start. We hardly need to explain the appeal of a denim jacket to someone like you. You’re already well aware of its status as an icon of old-school masculine style. As for its potential to get better with age, you’re well up to speed on that, too. The question here is not whether you should buy a denim jacket, but which denim jacket you should buy, and this is where Destino can help you. Our stylists will advise you on the best fit and shade to match your life and personality.
An overcoat is a classic. It’s versatile and if you buy well it’s something you could be handing down to your children and even their children after them. Wool is the obvious choice fabric-wise, as is camel in terms of colour. Perfect with tailoring, but also ideal for dressing casual outfits up, the overcoat is a cornerstone of any good outerwear selection. Make sure to check our custom capsule wardrobe series to learn everything you need to know about the classic wool overcoat.
A leather jacket or motorcycle-style jacket can last longer than almost any other item of clothing. You can wear it in your 20s. You can wear it in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. It’s timeless, which is the definition of a capsule piece.
A black suit is something that you should always have in your closet. Get it tailored so that it fits perfectly, and choose a style that’s simple enough that it will last 15, 20, or even 30 years. Separating the components of the suit makes it more versatile; you can wear the blazer over a T-shirt and jeans for something a little more laid-back than business-casual. It can result in countless outfit permutations.
If there’s one suit that should be hanging in every man’s wardrobe, it’s a navy suit. It’s timeless, it’s versatile and it can be easily broken up and used as separates with other garments from your capsule wardrobe. Grey is another option but it can come off a little too corporate for some settings, whereas navy has got your back whether it’s a wedding, work or a special occasion.
With a bewildering array of options available to the modern consumer, the right suit can be a hard thing to find. It should be sharp, but not flashy. It should have structure, but not feel too restricting when you put it on. And then, of course, there are the slightly more specific concerns. Which weight of fabric should you choose? Double- or single-breasted? A peak or a notch lapel? This may seem like a lot to be concerned with. But it’s not, let Destino help you find the perfect matches for you.
Black, dark blue, and mid-blue jeans will never go out of style. Go for something simple: no rips, no splatters. Really simple jeans will last year after year. Denim trends come and go, but a good pair of slim-fit jeans is eternal. For maximum versatility, go for a dark wash. Perhaps even raw denim. They’ll be dressy enough to wear with smart-casual outfits, but relaxed enough for a T-shirt and trainers, too.
To complete your capsule wardrobe, work in three pairs of shoes. Stick with very neutral colors: black, brown, and white. A white sneaker goes with pretty much every outfit that you could possibly think of. If you want to dress up your look, go for something black: a Chelsea boot, an Oxford, a brogue, or another type of dress shoe. For every conceivable formal occasion, a pair of well-made Oxford shoes is your best friend. You never know when you're going to have to dress up a little bit more, and the right shoe makes the difference with an outfit. For the brown shoe, consider adding texture—a brown suede boot, for example. Go for something that you know you'll be able to wear regularly.There’s no other type of footwear that can span different dress codes quite like a brown Derby shoe. Great in the office, great at the weekend, great on date night, great at a party. There’s nothing it can’t do.
Even the word sounds expensive. And while it certainly doesn’t come cheap, it’d be a shame to think of it as some precious luxury only to be worn on special occasions. Take the cashmere sweater, for instance, a highly versatile garment that can and should play a central role in your everyday wardrobe. What makes this one so good? It’s made from an unusually fine-gauge cashmere, which makes it a great intermediate layer during winter. It can be worn over a T-shirt and under a blazer or coat without leaving you feeling as if you’ve been upholstered, as is so often the case with lesser cashmere sweaters, and in charcoal grey it’s sure to go with almost anything – although it works especially well with other grey tones, as illustrated here. Warmth, comfort and sophistication all in one
A wardrobe that contains the items that have been mentioned in this guide should be considered a complete, self-contained and endlessly versatile wardrobe that will last you for years. But it should not necessarily be considered your wardrobe – not yet, at any rate. The final step is to put your own stamp on it, and at this point we hand the controls to you. Pick a few things at your discretion – a silk scarf, a pair of retro sneakers or even an asymmetric, colourblock windcheater. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it’s your choice. That, in the end, is the true purpose of this guide: to provide you with the things you need, so that you’re free to choose the things you want.
Don't go for a belt that is just functional. Get your pants altered if they're not fitting right without a belt. For your capsule wardrobe, choose a simple yet fashionable belt. A slim belt doesn't look like a corporate belt, and it can make a whole outfit look polished. Make sure that your belt doesn’t clash with your shoes, however! Having belts of different color (black and brown at least) is a necessity.
There’s no shortage of tailoring essential finishing accessories, but with minimalism in mind, the most important accessorie is a tie. Ideally, you should have a few in different colours and patterns, but always favour quality over quantity. Moreover, tie clips are a great way to personalize your outfit. They represent professionalism and class in such a small package, so do not hesitate to add some to your wardrobe.
3. Your own pieces
A capsule wardrobe serves as a great base of timeless pieces for you to add your own style on top of.
Any pocket square, watches, scarves and glasses that you’d like to add to the outfits you create will make them that much more special. Pieces of jewelry can make a great difference as well: rings, glasses, chains, even bracelets. Make it your own and impress everyone.
Top Tips on How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe
We’ve gone over what a capsule collection is and what you benefit from it in our previous post.
In this post, we’ve gone over what it should include. Now, we want to give you top tips on how to build one. What makes something a capsule item? It's something that is classic and relatively neutral, that can be worn time after time and reimagined. When creating your own capsule wardrobe, whether you're buying all-new pieces or looking through what you already have in your closet, choose components that are simple. Remember, they are the foundations of your closet. Here are some more tips:
1. Try everything on
If you’re going to wear something all the time, it should fit well and feel comfortable. Make sure that you like the cut. Is a V-neck more your story? Is a crew neck more your story? Is a soft V more your story? Find the silhouette that works best for you by trying on lots of clothes, and then buy the winner in a few different colors. Everyone's body shape is different, so finding items that truly flatter your body and feel comfortable is important.
2. Choose muted colors
This is your foundation. You want to make sure that your capsule pieces are timeless. Colors are often trendy and can date your clothes. Keep your capsule collection very neutral because the colors in there should never go out of style.
As touched upon above, versatility is key in curating a successful capsule wardrobe. You should be able to mix and match garments to create multiple and varied looks, and colour is hugely important in achieving that. Neutral tones are the way to do it. That’s not to say bold colours are out entirely, but to do this properly, it’s important your capsule wardrobe is built on a foundation of understated shades that work together. We’re talking black, white, greys, blues, browns and greens. Always subdued, though. Nothing too bright. If you’re really passionate about adding color to your outfits, finishing pieces are a great way to do that.
3. Invest in high-quality pieces
The capsule items are things that are never going out of style. Most of your capsule items are worth a splurge—high-quality shoes, suits, and outerwear can last for years. Since the capsule collection is meant to be worn over and over, the idea is that you won’t have to constantly replace low-quality items. Be thrifty with the trendier pieces, the things that are there to layer onto your foundational pieces, and save your money for your wardrobe-essentials. The most important buying consideration you can make when stocking your minimalist wardrobe is quality. It might mean splashing out a little more, but if that’s the difference between buying something once and buying it five times, then it’s a worthwhile investment.
4. Keep being inspired
Having a style icon/reference point allows you to be more selective when shopping. If you are aiming for a certain aesthetic, when shopping, question whether or not your style hero would wear a certain thing. If not, then move on. With that being said, however, don’t buy an item just because it looks great on someone you admire or follow on Instagram. Really think about your shape, size and whether their lifestyle relates to yours. It’s a great idea to have a style reference, but following them blindly may lead to faux pas in your outfits.
5. Be sustainable
The more sustainable you are with your purchases, the more likely you will heavily invest in an essential staple, allowing you to have the budget for that designer piece, which trust me, you will wear for 10 years. Being sustainable also represents being in sync with our future as a society. Be a leader and an example by wearing the behavior that can help our planet.
The Bottom line
What to have in your capsule wardrobe?
You started reading this post with that question in mind, and we hope that it’s now answered. From the basic dress shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts to the indispensable outerwear and navy suit, you now know the most important pieces of a capsule wardrobe. Adding your own pieces to those essential items will also make a world of a difference and make your outfits even more impressive.
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