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5 Classic Pieces to Kickstart a Capsule Wardrobe

No one likes looking at a full wardrobe and feeling like they have nothing to wear. By volume, of course, you know something’s out there. Yet, pieces look dated, are starting to show their wear, or simply feel mismatched. Essentially, in this scenario, you’re given a plethora of parts that don’t fit together without significant effort and creativity – for instance, pattern matching. In considering this situation, developing a capsule wardrobe has turned into a keystone not only of minimalist and classic dressing but also for long-term wear and versatility. Although “capsule” gets thrown around for brands’ smaller, sometimes niche collections, the phrase in a general sense focuses on adaptable pieces. Here, adaptability works two ways: One garment fulfills multiple roles and situations – commonly, the office and after-work activities – and it integrates with multiple pieces from your wardrobe. As such, your capsule pieces become your wardrobe’s sturdy, dependable foundation from which you can be more adventurous – whether that’s with the latest camp shirts or a bomber jacket in a novelty material. At this base level, constructing a capsule wardrobe begins with what we call our basics: trousers, casual tees, button-fronts, a jacket or two, and shoes in neutral hues with a traditional or unassumingly contemporary silhouette. Secondarily, consider pieces like hoodies, sweatshirts, and knits that layer well with these garments. Whether you’re getting ready for the daily commute or you’ve been invited to a weekend wedding, your capsule pieces provide a bit of grounding and reliability. You know you’ve got a few starter garments that can stand on their own or match something more experimental. If you’ve found yourself in this situation and wonder how to get started with a men’s capsule wardrobe, consider the following:

Pod Louis Leather Lace-Up Trainers 

You have trainers, you have oxfords, and then there’s a pair of Chelsea boots in your wardrobe. Nothing seems to fit right as you’re headed to the office. We don’t mean just size, however: Your co-workers are the dark-denim type: Maybe they’ll throw a blazer on one day, and the next, it’s a fleece pullover. For you, it’s a game of keeping up in that vague smart-casual spectrum, where it’s easy to feel like you’re overdoing it and also like you’re not doing enough. Dress sneakers, like this Pod pair in smooth navy leather, have turned into the baseline. A sort-of hybrid piece themselves, they give off the uncluttered, neutral aura of dress shoes with the comfort and part-casual character of skate shoes in a less overt fashion.

Scotch & Soda Stuart Regular Fit Chinos 

Your trousers, on a day-to-day basis, place you in a similar quandary. On one hand, denim frequently veers too casual; on the other, not every occasion calls for suit separates. In terms of developing a capsule wardrobe, chinos tend to be one of the most versatile garments in your arsenal: classically cut, flattering a wider range of body types, and hitting that business-casual safe spot that can still look decent when you match it with a blazer. This pair from Scotch & Soda goes the extra mile and expands the possibilities with a darker hue and traditional relaxed fit.

Polo Ralph Lauren Logo Lounge T-Shirt

We all need a quality crewneck tee – ideally, something solid coloured, so that it’s adaptable with jeans, chinos, and even patterned joggers. Yet, colour isn’t the only factor. Construction matters: Subbing an undershirt for a tee means that, in about a year’s time, you’ll be faced with a threadbare garment that’s really only decent for sleeping in. This solid-white Polo Ralph Lauren tee is the very embodiment of a menswear grail without being too hyped up or a novelty piece. It’s relaxed yet not spacious – hence you won’t end up with a dress effect – and the design hits every classic principle. Whether you’re keeping it contemporary or getting inspired by the 1950s, it’s ready.

GANT Classic Oxford Shirt

We associate the GANT and GANT Rugger brands with effortless yet unassuming Ivy League style. It feels old money, but at the same time, true old money dressing is intentionally deceptive and versatile: Never look like you’re the wealthiest man in the room. A white oxford marks a cornerstone of any man’s wardrobe. You count on it for work – unless you’re in the most casual of environments – and know you can style it with any number of pieces for weddings, events calling for cocktail dress, and those in-between blazer-and-jeans occasions. So, tie together those suit separates, that floral printed suit, and anything dark denim with this decades-transcending basic constructed of breathable cotton.

Barbour Domus Wax Jacket 

Heritage garments and creating a capsule collection go hand-in-hand. In terms of midweight dressing for transitional seasons, Barbour’s waxed cotton jackets fuse performance with multi-season adaptability and timelessness. Although you’ll want to have a few classic jackets on hand – think a bomber or denim jacket on the lightweight side and something more polished like a sports coat – the Barbour Domus brings the right blend of durability and style that’s ready for the city, countryside, and everywhere else in between.

Ivan Yaskey

Philadelphia’s streetwear scenes and working as a copywriter for a Boston-based menswear brand sparked Ivan's passion for fashion and style more than a decade ago.



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