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How to Build a Minimalist Wardrobe for Men [with Clothing Checklist]

I love shopping. There are days I’d find myself buying shirts of the same color or pattern not because I needed them but they just happened to be on sale.

If you are like me then you know how manipulative those “sale” price tags can be. And then came those print on demand t-shirts and hoodies you find everywhere online today.

Please God don't let me see anymore sales meme

I spent a lot of money on stuff I’d only wear once or twice in several months. My wardrobe was sagging under the weight of unused clothes.

My wake-up moment happened when I was moving house. I couldn’t believe I had accumulated so much in a short time.

That’s when I decided to cut down everything and take the minimalist wardrobe route. Life has been much easier since then.

Let me share with you some key benefits of a minimalist wardrobe and give you a few suggestions on how to build a men’s basic wardrobe.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe consists of clothes that never go out of style.

I’m talking about clothes that can be matched easily and worn on different occasions. They are limited in number but can be combined to keep you looking sharp in any casual or formal setting.

Who is this guide for?

This guide is for you if you are:

  • still on the fence about organizing your wardrobe, or
  • considering decluttering or trying to get rid of clothes that you simply don’t need anymore.

You may think a capsule wardrobe will be restrictive but that’s far from the truth. A minimalist wardrobe gives you freedom and contentment with the clothes you have.

The minimalist wardrobe list

There are endless ways to create a functional but minimalist wardrobe. The goal is to have fewer dressing options with versatile items.

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White OCBD

Norse Projects White Anton Oxford Shirt

Norse Projects White Anton Oxford Shirt ($125, $79)

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The classic white shirt is quite versatile. It is a blank slate that matches everything formal and casual. It is just as elegant in a suit as it is when worn with blue jeans.


A.P.C. Button Down Oxford Shirt

A.P.C. Button Down Oxford Shirt ($170)

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Gitman Vintage Blue Zephyr Blue Oxford Shirt

Gitman Vintage Blue Zephyr Blue Oxford Shirt ($169, $109)

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The blue OCBD livens up your casual style and goes well with almost every type of pants. You can optionally have a dark navy shirt or something similarly patterned for that bold look.

Gray tee

Hartford Pocket Tee

Hartford Pocket Tee ($59, $29)

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It pays to have a gray tee in your dresser drawer. You’ll always find some good use for it especially when you can’t decide what to pair with your blue jeans on a weekend.

White tee

Oliver Spencer Oli's Tee

Oliver Spencer Oli's Tee ($55, $35)

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Who doesn’t have one of these? The white tee is a must-have casual item. It rocks with shorts or black jeans on hot days and can even be an undershirt on those chilly nights.

Black tee

Nanamica Coolmax Loopwheel Tee

Nanamica Coolmax Loopwheel Tee ($85, $55)

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Like white and grey t-shirts, black t-shirts are building blocks of a minimalist wardrobe. Check out my guide to the best plain black t-shirt if you want to invest in a high quality t-shirt.

Gray sweater

A.P.C. Douglas Crew Knit

A.P.C. Douglas Crew Knit ($190)

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You don’t need lots of jumpers and hoodies when you can keep warm in a versatile grey sweater that matches every style.


NN07 Marco Slim Chino

NN07 Marco Slim Chino ($145, $95)

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APC Indigo Raw Petit New Standard Jeans

A.P.C. Raw Petit New Standard Jeans ($210)

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Dark blue jeans and olive chinos summarize your capsule wardrobe because they match with everything in between from your white tee to your blue shirt.


Harris Wharf London Slim-fit Wool Blazer

Harris Wharf London Slim-fit Wool Blazer ($433, $216)

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Keep a blue blazer handy. It is perfect for the office or when you go out for a date night. It makes great weekend wear when worn over a grey or white tee.


White sneakers

Common Projects Achilles Low Coloured Shiny Sole

Common Projects Achilles Low ($459, $299)

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Common Projects Achilles Low is the golden standard of a perfect white sneakers. I finally gave in after years of struggles and got myself a pair at full price. They are absolutely beautiful. Check out Common Projects Achilles Low review if you are on the fence getting a pair of Common Projects Achilles Low.

Zespa ZSP4

Zespa ZSP4 ($295, $199)

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Zespa ZSP4 is also a solid choice if you are looking a cheaper Common Projects alternatives. See my detailed Zespa ZSP4 review here.

White sneakers are comfortable and hands down the most versatile shoes you can imagine. The casual sneakers go well with everything from chinos to jeans paired with t-shirts or OCBD of any color.

Also check out my recommendations of best white sneakers for men and Converse alternatives if you want to buy a quality pair of white sneakers.

Brown Chelsea boots

Common Projects Tan Suede Chelsea Boots

Common Projects Tan Suede Chelsea Boots ($530)

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Brown Chelsea boots add an elegant touch to your outfit and works well with blue jeans and olive chinos.


Beckett Simonon Nelson Belt

Beckett Simonon Nelson Belt ($89, $79)

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A brown leather belt completes the elegant look with a touch of class. It’s durable and doesn’t stick out when worn on any type of pants.

How to choose each item?

When shopping for your wardrobe essentials, the key is:

To be consistent with your wardrobe as a whole, not how good-looking the individual item is.

Here're two important factors to consider when building your capsule wardrobe.

  • Fit - Think of compatibility and consistency. A slim shirt over baggy pants won’t work. Check how the item fits around your body. Is it too tight or loose-fitting? You can then find a matching item to achieve the look you wish to have.

  • Style - Your style should also be minimalist. Avoid a wild mix of colors and extras that scream for attention. Go for a cleaner design without logos, decorations, and other embellishments.

Where does the capsule wardrobe concept come from?

The term was first used in the 1970s by Susie Faux who ran a London fashion boutique known as Wardrobe.

It was later popularized in 1985 by Donna Karan who launched a capsule collection called the Seven Easy Peasy Pieces.

Capsule wardrobe isn't a recent concept. It has been around for years but it became the latest fashion craze among the Millennials only a few years ago.

How can a capsule wardrobe make your life easier?

From my personal experience, a leaner wardrobe makes life easier. I’ve come to learn that less is more in many ways.

Here're a few reasons why a capsule wardrobe makes sense.

Helps you make better dressing decisions

You’ll have an easy time deciding on what to wear when you have a few items in your wardrobe. You know everything in your wardrobe looks good on you so you won’t have a hard time choosing the best option for the day.

Save your time

A capsule wardrobe gives you minimal but essential options to choose from. You’ll, therefore, make your dressing decisions faster and save time.

Saves your money

There was a time stared blankly at the clothes in my closet and wonder how I’d actually afforded to accumulate the stuff therein. I’d bought a lot of items just because they cost $15 or less.

Most of these items had only seen the light of day once or twice in the previous year. I wouldn’t miss them if they were gone.

A capsule wardrobe helps you avoid such costly mistakes by making sure you only buy clothes you need.

Helps you organize your clothes

You can organize your wardrobe more easily with fewer items to manage. Your laundry becomes easier too.

Wardrobe clutter is a source of stress for many. A minimalist wardrobe means less clutter and less stress.

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