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Minimalist Wardrobe (Men): Buying Guide to Men’s Wardrobe Essentials

Also known as a capsule wardrobe, a minimalist style wardrobe generally requires trimming down your closet, (or setting up one if you’re just starting out) to only a few clothes that suit your lifestyle and body shape. That means you’d need to be intentional as you edit out your wardrobe to clothes that you can match expediently.

The concept of a capsule wardrobe was the brainchild of Susie Faux, an American boutique owner. She helped develop the idea of a curated mix of timeless clothes that seem to defy seasonal fashion trends.

Minimalist Wardrobe Men Minimalist Wardrobe (Men): Buying Guide to Mens Wardrobe Essentials

If you’re wondering how to develop your minimalist wardrobe, then stick around as we take you through the journey. Here’s how to create a minimalist style wardrobe for men.

Buying Considerations for a Minimalist Style Wardrobe

An effective minimalist wardrobe has certain universal aspects that make it workable. For example:

Versatility

The concept of a minimalist wardrobe is to have it as lean as is practically possible. That would mean virtually every clothing item in there will be adaptable to multiple functions and combinations. Any item should click with at least two or three outfit combinations.

For instance, go for a blazer that can complement your chinos and jeans equally well. That’s better than a blazer that only pairs with a single item in your wardrobe.

Quality Build

A minimalist style wardrobe is defined by the sheer small number of items. That implies they will be on high rotation as your staple attire. It’s therefore paramount that they are of a sturdy build and feature durable, high-quality materials. Otherwise, should you go for shoddily crafted pieces of attire, the evidence will be all over you a lot more.

Neutrality

Be selective in putting together a cool collection of neutral colors that effortlessly dovetails with other clothing items. Flashy tinctures aren’t ideal if you’ve chosen the minimalist style path.

Some good options are the all-time neutral greats such as grey, charcoal, navy, white, and black. These hues are a proven lot that will go well with multiple color combinations. You can get these at any of your favorite online men’s clothing websites.

Functionality

Choose clothes that support your everyday gig. If you spend a lot more time outdoors as a sportsperson, a collection that leans heavily towards formal office wear will be unfeasible.

Consider pieces that you can wear to work, and that would come in handy over weekends and other social events. In principle, those are clothes that conveniently transition to suit different settings.

Mens Wardrobe Essentials

Mens Wardrobe Essentials Minimalist Wardrobe (Men): Buying Guide to Mens Wardrobe Essentials

We’ll help you build the ultimate minimalist style wardrobe for men. You’ll need articles to fit the following categories:

  • Inner garments
  • Casual wear
  • Formal wear
  • Outerwear
  • Footwear
  • Accessories

Obviously, your needs will dictate your wardrobe. If you work from home, you can probably live with a blazer rather than a 2- or 3-piece suit as no one’s seeing your legs during Zoom meetings. Or, perhaps you lead an active lifestyle that requires lightweight technical clothing more than casual wear. In any case, it helps to know the main guideposts to a minimalist style wardrobe. Here are the foundational clothing articles to suit any man’s lifestyle. Mix and match as needed:

1. Inner garments

While you probably don’t need to be told that you need underwear, just remember its close, constant contact with your skin needs to be comfortable. Natural fabrics make great underwear as they’re breathable, absorbent, and simply cozy. Get undergarments that keep your styling unsophisticated.

Briefs

Fruit of the Loom Briefs - minimalist style men

Minimalist Recommendation: Fruit of the Loom Coolzone Boxer Briefs

When it comes to underwear, always consider functionality over flashiness. Cotton that’s in darker shades will be ideal for your briefs. Religiously weed out any piece that begins to sag, gets torn, and starts forming holes. No minimalist style wardrobe for men is complete without a solid rotation of underwear–anything below four pairs is roughing it unnecessarily.

Socks

Dickie's Dri Tech Socks Minimalist Style

Minimalist Recommendation: Dickies Dri-Tech Socks

Include a few pairs of sturdy and comfortable socks in your minimalist wardrobe. You can go for either a colorful collection or some more neutral tones–just make sure they’re versatile with the rest of your closet.

T-Shirts

Gildan T-shirt - minimalist style men

Minimalist Recommendation: Gildan V-Neck

T-shirts are so convenient to buy and wear. Unchecked, they can easily grow to a large pile and clog your wardrobe with stuff you never wear. In picking the ones you’ll need for a minimalist style wardrobe, you’ll have to be deliberate and discerning.

Stick to plain block colors and standard classical designs. T-shirts with screaming graphics and logos will be difficult to harmonize with other pieces. At the very least begin with a white, or a black, then build on from there. Grey and navy will particularly be a great way to build up your capsule closet.

It can be tempting to pick up the cheapest available T-shirts. However, never compromise on quality for a seemingly attractive price. Good quality T-shirts remain decent after many, many washes. You wouldn’t want a T-shirt that shrinks into a crop top after one or two runs through the dryer. Nor do you want cheap stuff which completely stretches out of shape after minimal wear. 

2. Casualwear

When you think of a minimalist style wardrobe, the clear-cut lines between dressed-down and formal wear become fuzzy. As we’ve mentioned, versatility and simplicity play a major role in a successful minimalist style wardrobe for men.

Here are some of the items you’ll need to stock up for your more casual occasions.

Slim-Fit Jeans

Levi's 511 Jeans - minimalist style men

Minimalist Recommendation: Levi’s 511 

A good pair of slim-fit jeans are timeless, though they should be neither too tight nor too loose or risk dating themselves pretty quickly. Darker shades are more versatile and easily click with numerous combinations. Depending on the occasion, jeans can be paired with smart casuals or dressed down with sneakers and a T-shirt.

Go for classic selvedge denim or raw denim. Quickly replace your jeans when they begin to give hints of wear and tear. Relegate older pairs to work clothing. That way, they’ll still find a place in your minimalist-style men’s wardrobe.

OCBD (Oxford Cloth Button-Down Shirt)

Amazon Essentials Regular Fit OCBD Minimalist Wardrobe essential

Minimalist Recommendation: Amazon Essentials Regular Fit OCBD

A few Oxford shirts, perhaps two or three, will form the vital backbone of any minimalist style wardrobe for men. When it comes to shirt shades, go for light colors and pastels. Block colors will also ensure your shirts are more versatile.

Your oxford shirts should fit well. Moreover, they should be comfortable to layer under a jacket and allow you the latitude to unbutton over a T-shirt.

Flannel Shirt

Alimen's and Gentle Long Sleeved Flannel Minimalist Mens Wardrobe

Minimalist Recommendation: Alimen’s and Gentle Long Sleeved Flannel

An iconic piece to layer with your winter dressing. A flannel shirt is so versatile it can be worn on its own to work, over a T-shirt, or layered beneath a bomber jacket. No, it’s not just for hipsters and lumberjacks; flannel can be acceptable workplace attire or even worn on a casual date. Flannel is warm, durable, and timeless.

Chambray Shirt

 Amazon Essentials Long Sleeved Chambray Staple Shirt for Men

Minimalist Recommendation: Amazon Essentials Long Sleeved Chambray

You’ll probably want one chambray to round-out your minimalist style wardrobe for men once you’ve gone beyond the absolute bare necessities. Chambray shirts would lurk somewhere between the heavier denim-like shirt and a near resemblance to a blue Oxford. A semi-casual all star.

Pullovers

Gildan Fleece Crewneck Minimalist Sweater

Minimalist Recommendation: Gildan Fleece Crewneck

Try not to pick up one that’s heavily plastered in bold logos. Instead look for the sweatshirts that come in subdued colors including black, grey, and navy. Such laidback, unpretentious pullovers will go well with a vast majority of trousers and nicely complement a host of other outfits.

Knitted Turtleneck

COOFANDY Slim Fit Turtleneck Mens Essentials

Minimalist Recommendation: COOFANDY Slim Fit Knit Pullover

Knitted turtlenecks are a go-to piece when the cold weather begins to bite. They’re excellent for layering. You can wear a knitted turtleneck under a jacket, with your formal suit to pull off a less formal look, or with a knitted cardigan.

A fine-gauge cashmere-inspired knitted roll neck will turn heads when you go out, as well.

Black should be your first color of choice due to its versatility. If there’s room in your capsule wardrobe for a second, sapphire, burgundy or emerald will do.

Polo Shirts

MOHEEN Moisture-Wicking Golf Polo Minimalist Mens Closet

Minimalist Recommendation: MOHEEN Moisture-Wicking Golf Polo

No minimalist style wardrobe for men is complete without a polo. Typically, polos occupy the smart casual space between the T-shirt and the oxford shirt, but some are more athletic and technical with vents and moisture wicking materials. Neutral colors are ideal for easy matching–though you can spring for light colors for outdoor events as well. You can pair it up with a jacket for smart-casual vibes or use it to brighten your slim-fit raw denim jeans.

Breton Top

PJ PAUL JONES Striped Crew Neck Minimalist Style Wardrobe

Minimalist Recommendation: PJ PAUL JONES Striped Crew Neck

With Breton tops, block colors are ideal. Nevertheless, you can experiment and stray a little bit into something more captivating. How about layering it under a blazer? A classic Breton top is versatile and seriously appealing. Long sleeves, the iconic thirteen stripes.

In summer, it can combine beautifully with a pair of shorts. Top it off with white canvas sneakers and add an unstructured blazer if the temperatures dip. Not just for Frenchmen and sailors if worn right! Many minimalist wardrobes will skip this one, while others can be built around the Breton.

Chinos

 Amazon Essentials Classic-Fit Chino Pant Essential Minimalist Trouser

Minimalist Recommendation: Amazon Essentials Classic-Fit Chino Pant

Chinos are a great alternative to your slim-fit jeans. They’re perfect for smart-casual events at work or out on the social scene; you’ll find yourself reaching to them time and time again. Two pairs of contrasting colors in your minimalist style wardrobe will serve you well. You can typically choose from tan, beige, navy, to dark green.

Apart from chino trousers, consider a pair or two of chino shorts to piece together your minimalist style wardrobe. They’re an excellent substitute for denim shorts and tailored shorts. They go well with t-shirts and sandals. That’ll be a fitting outfit for the outdoors in summer. For a more business-like look, you can combine chino shorts with an Oxford shirt and shoes.

Tailored Shorts

Three Sixty Six Dry Fit Golf Shorts Minimalist Shorts for Men

Minimalist Recommendation: Three Sixty Six Dry Fit Golf Shorts

A tailored-fit short will be a fine addition to your minimalist style wardrobe. Like most other pieces in your collection, keep the colors subdued. Neutral colors, pastels, khaki-inspired will all do the job.

These are certainly not designed for formal functions, typically pairing with a shirt, t-shirt, and a pair of canvas sneakers. They can be a staple item on rotation when you’re off duty in summer.

Knitted Jumpers

Esobo Knitted Crew Neck Sweater for Mens Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist Recommendation: Esobo Knitted Crew Neck Sweater

Get two: One light and the other heavy. In extreme weather, the heavy type will suit the occasion. The lighter knitted jumper will be appropriate when the chills are bearable. If you live in a warm climate, you can get away with the latter only–but don’t skip out as the nights can get chilly fast!

Keep to neutral colors to layer in well with other attires. By the way, knitted jumpers are terrific for a classic layering combination..

Swimwear

Kanu Surf Barracuda Swim Trunks Minimalist Wardrobe Essential

Minimalist Recommendation: Kanu Surf Barracuda Swim Trunks

Slim swim shorts are indispensable for spring and summer if you’re going to be around water. Stroll in them along sandy beaches, or from the pool to the restaurant. Neutral colors are fine but you can feel free to explore your favorite colors and patterns. Brighter colors stand out more in the water.

3. Formal and Semi Formal

A sartorial lifestyle will demand that you prepare to invest slightly more for tailored outfits. Even if you’re hardly in a suit, there are occasions that require that you be in one. It’s, therefore, better to be ready before the need arises. Sturdy finishes and quality material will make you stand out and look the part.

Navy Suit

 Unlisted by Kenneth Cole 2-Piece Suit Essential for Men's Wardrobe

Minimalist Recommendation: Unlisted by Kenneth Cole 2-Piece Suit

Every man’s minimalist style wardrobe should certainly have a navy suit. It never goes out of fashion, is simple, and super-versatile besides. You can pair the pieces independently with other items from your capsule wardrobe–but do it tastefully and according to the cut and material. The navy suit is appropriate for a variety of occasions from formal work functions, to social functions such as weddings.

A grey suit is a good alternative, though leans more formal than the relaxed, everyman’s navy. A well-constructed two-button navy suit that fits well will always look great on you. The navy suit is a staple piece in the minimalist style wardrobe for men.

Unstructured Blazer

Goodthreads Slim-Fit Linen Blazer Semi-Casual Minimalist Staple

Minimalist Recommendation: Goodthreads Slim-Fit Linen Blazer

The “unstructured” blazer is an intermediary that perfectly straddles between the formal and semi-casual domains. This blazer is stripped of its stuffing and padding to give it the feel of a cardigan. Its more relaxed vibes make for a cool outfit that’s versatile.

They come in where a tailored jacket isn’t an ideal match for casual trousers and footwear. An unstructured blazer is a must-have for a minimalist style men’s wardrobe.

Dress Shirts

Van Heusen Poplin Dress Shirt Minimalist Staple

Minimalist Recommendation: Van Heusen Poplin Dress Shirt

The more times a week you need to fully suit up, the more you’ll reach for dress shirts. So even a minimalist can find room for several dress shirts! But if it’s something you wear once in a blue moon a single white or blue dress shirt will do the trick.

If you suit up more often you can vary the whites with a sky blue, yellow, or even pink, just to spice up things a little more. Dress shirts defy any attempt to dress them down so always remember to keep them tucked in.

Wool Trousers

Van Heusen Straight Fit Pants Minimalist Wardrobe Fundamental

Minimalist Recommendation: Van Heusen Straight Fit Pants

A fine pair of trousers is necessary to combine with various suit separates. Pair it with your unstructured blazer, or your suit jacket. They’re a staple dress item over winter. Wool trousers can go well with a blazer and a black tie.

You can also pull off an impeccable informal look with your wool trousers if properly combined. For instance, band it with a tucked t-shirt, or a sweatshirt, and throw in an unstructured blazer. Add in some leather or canvas sneakers that will complete a smart casual outfit for an evening out.

Ties

Kenneth Cole Reaction Silm Tie for Minimalist Style Wardrobe

Minimalist Recommendation: Kenneth Cole REACTION Solid Slim Ties

A minimalist-style men’s wardrobe would be considered incomplete without a tie. Prioritize the feel (texture) over graphics. When it comes to ties, quality is more important than quantity. Have a few ties or even just one you really like. Think of ties that come in colors that won’t clash with your staple navy suit and your collection of shirts in your capsule wardrobe.

4. Outerwear

Overcoat

Benino's Slim Trench Coat Essential Overwear

Minimalist Recommendation: Benino’s Slim Trench Coat

Previously, an overcoat was exclusively worn with formal attire. Not anymore. You can wear an overcoat with a suit or over a hoodie, with jeans. Navy is the classic choice, but camel is also quite popular–just watch out for the cut or else you’ll look like Dick Tracey. Black, on the other hand, may create the false impression that you’re headed for an interment ceremony.

A good overcoat should be sufficiently spacious to permit for layering. Go for woolen overcoats for warmth.

Transitional Jacket

Levi's Mens Trucker Jacket Minimalist Attire

Minimalist Recommendation: Levi’s Trucker Jacket

In winter, we resort to heavy overcoats. But as we transition into the warmer months, transitional jackets become the item of choice. Good examples here include denim jackets and bomber jackets.

Denim jackets can be worn throughout the year. In spring it forms the outer layer. When the seasons get cooler, it’s layered lower underneath overcoats and other heavier garments. Denim and bomber jackets can efficiently support this transition from one season to another.

The denim jacket needs to be slim enough to allow for an overcoat layering above it when required. At the same time, it should allow for space to fit clothing pieces to be layered underneath it.

Raincoats

COOFANDY Men's Rainjacket Men's Wardrobe Staple

Minimalist Recommendation: COOFANDY Men’s Rainjacket

You’ll need to be prepared when the skies open in a deluge. If you’re heavily into tailoring, a classic trench coat will fit. For a contemporary feel, you’ll go for high-performance rubberized raincoats that work well with chinos and jeans.

Whatever your preference, have a raincoat in neutral colors that marry the outfits in your minimalist style wardrobe.

5. Footwear

With a black pair of shoes and white sneakers, there’s practically no function you won’t be able to attend any time of the year. However, if your minimalist closet and budget can accommodate another pair, you’ll gain in flexibility, style, and reduce wear and tear on your few pairs. Again, select the right rotation for your lifestyle–any given man won’t need every one of our recommendations below; two or three is solid.

RELATED READINGThe right way to wear dress shoes with jeans

Black Oxfords Shoes

Unlisted by Kenneth Cole Half Time Oxford Minimalist Wardrobe Staple Shoe

Minimalist Recommendation: Unlisted by Kenneth Cole Half Time Oxford

Black Oxford shoes are the go-to for almost any formal function. If you could only have one formal pair in your minimalist style wardrobe, then this should be it. They’re comfortable, stylish, versatile, and ubiquitous.

You can actually survive without them if you hardly attend a formal function throughout the year, but it’s advisable to have them since you never know when you’ll need them.

RELATED READING: How to wear Oxford shoes the right way

Brown Brogues

FRASOICUS Genuine Leather Brogue Dress Shoes Essential Shoes for Men's Style

Minimalist Recommendation: FRASOICUS Genuine Leather Brogue Dress Shoes

A master in versatility, the brown brogue shoe can go with just about every dress code. They’ll compliment a suit in a similar manner that they will a pair of jeans trousers. The simpler they are, the easier it is for brown brogues to blend well with your outfit.

There’s nowhere these shoes won’t take you… though admittedly they’re pretty bad running shoes. Whether it’s an office party, though, a weekend party with friends, or a sizzling date night, the brown brogues will tramp it all in confidence. 

RELATED READING: How to wear brown shoes with black pants.

Sneakers

Minimalist Staple Cole Haan Crosscourt II White Sneakers

Minimalist Recommendation: Cole Haan Crosscourt II Sneakers

Sneakers have always been popular, but working remotely has made them practically ubiquitous. They’ll naturally complement your jeans, but it’s also trendy for sneakers to be paired with suits–particularly white ones. Premium leather sneakers in particular pair well with navy suits. Couple that with a plain colored t-shirt that’s tucked in and your weekend wear is made.

Canvas is even more versatile and breathable, and thus ideal for the warmer summer weather–where leather sneakers can be challenging and uncomfortable to don and wear.

Boots

Ever Boots Tank Full-Grain Leather Boot Essential Footwear for Men's Minimalist Style

Minimalist Recommendation: Ever Boots Tank Full-Grain Leather Boot

Leather booths that cover up your ankle are most appropriate for physical work, hiking, and/or cold weather. All boots aren’t created equal though, and you’ll want to avoid shoddy leather. If you see “genuine leather” boots, run! This is the lightest type of leather and will not stand up to hard wear (though it can make for decent, lightweight sneakers). If you need safety protection, be aware of your workplace’s requirements and get boots that are rated accordingly. Otherwise, just make sure the toe box isn’t too bulky or it will make casual outfits look and feel Ronald McDonald-y.

Running Shoes

JOOMRA Running Shoes Men's Minimalist Wardrobe Athletic Basics

Minimalist Recommendation: JOOMRA Running Shoes

You need a pair of shoes to support you in your endeavor to keep fit. Appropriate running shoes need to be ultralight, with a padded sole that offers support, good traction, and a breathable upper. The style is up to you, but don’t rely on them too heavily in casual situations–sneakers are a more stylish pick.

6. Accessories

A minimalist style wardrobe for men can be enhanced by accessories. You don’t need to get a full jewelry box, but here are a couple of items no guy should go without:

Watches

BUREI Minimalist Analogue Wrist Watch for Men's Style

Minimalist Recommendation: BUREI Minimalist Analogue Wrist Watch

A minimalist style men’s wardrobe is definitely incomplete without a stylish and appropriate timepiece. Choose a sleek watch with a leather strap and a non-cluttered face. A casual watch should be comfortable and classy with a leather strap or a fashionable bracelet. But don’t spend an arm and a leg that you can’t have on regular rotation.

Sunglasses

Oakley Holbrook XL Men's Minimalist Wardrobe Essential

Minimalist Recommendation: Oakley Holbrook XL

Invest in a pair of good sunglasses for a more modern look. Black, tortoiseshell, and even clear frames are all trendy–just make sure to match the shape to your facial features or risk looking like a bug or a stalker.

Last Thoughts: Minimalist Style Men’s Wardrobe

Setting up a minimalist style men’s wardrobe requires that you edit out unnecessary clothing items. Carefully consider versatility, simplicity, and agreeability with the whole picture when you pick individual clothing items for your capsule wardrobe.

How has your experience of decluttering your wardrobe been? We’d love to hear about your journey in the comment section below.

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