How to create the perfect Minimalist wardrobe for men

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How often do you experience those terrible mornings when you can’t find anything to wear yet have a closet full of clothes? It’s not the best way to start your day.

The good news is there is a solution. Build a minimalist wardrobe! It will help you curate great outfits from simple yet thoughtful clothing so that you have better mornings and great style.

Here is a guide on a men’s minimalist wardrobe, why you need one, and how to build it.

What is a minimalist wardrobe?

A minimalist wardrobe, also known as a capsule wardrobe, is a collection of few but essential clothing items that complement each other and can be worn interchangeably. It consists of timeless pieces that do not go out of fashion and allow you to curate different outfits from just a few clothes.

A capsule wardrobe is based on quality, versatility, and durability.

Since a capsule wardrobe is built on minimalism, owning a few pieces of clothing allows you to invest in high-quality, durable items that only require supplementing with seasonal pieces and accessories.

Benefits of a minimalist wardrobe

Reduces stress and saves time

With a minimalist wardrobe, you don’t have to spend hours in stores and online figuring out what to buy. Your focus is narrowed down to specific styles and colors, making decisions easier and faster.

Also, getting dressed each morning becomes so easy and quick. No more ‘what will I wear today’, or ‘does this work’, which leaves you with nothing but confusion and dissatisfaction.

Having too many articles of clothing to choose from can lead to mental exhaustion and stress.

Boosts your confidence

For most men, putting up an outfit together does not come naturally. You may end up feeling insecure and overwhelmed.

Luckily, all minimalist men’s wardrobe items are designed to work together, so finding stylish outfits is easy. When you look and feel good, confidence in all areas of your life is elevated.

Less clutter, more space

Is your closet full of clothes that you rarely wear? A minimal wardrobe helps you realize that you do not need a lot of clothes; you only need the right clothes.

It helps you declutter your closet, leaving you with a functional and fabulous wardrobe.

Saves money

To begin with, a capsule wardrobe has fewer clothes, so you buy less overall.

Secondly, since the clothes in your capsule wardrobe are versatile, interchangeable, and timeless, you don’t have to spend money shopping for new clothes now and then.

Again, a capsule wardrobe helps you shop with a purpose, so you do not buy clothes you will never wear.

Good for the environment

The average American throws away approximately 82 pounds of clothing waste every year. Fast fashion and cheap clothing have increased waste production, negatively impacting the environment.

A minimalist wardrobe contains clothing you love and wear regularly, and you are willing to hold onto them longer, thus creating less waste.

Minimalist fashion discourages running after the latest trends and says no to fast fashion, which positively impacts the environment and still helps you save money.

What makes a perfect minimalist wardrobe for men

The ultimate men’s minimalist wardrobe is built on three fundamental principles;

  • Timeless and classic styles

A minimalist men’s wardrobe is not about quantity but quality. The items in a minimalist closet are built to last, meaning you won’t buy a shirt today and have to replace it in the next season.

  • Versatile pieces

The purpose of a minimalist capsule wardrobe is to achieve more with less. Everything in your closet can make as many outfits as possible.

  • Neutral tones

Neutrality is critical in a capsule closet. Neutrals work well with each other as well as with different colors, and it becomes easy to mix and match.

How to build a minimalist wardrobe for men

Step 1: Define your personal style

Personal style is all about self-expression and finding clothes that make you feel good and define your values and personality.

Are you more a fan of block colors than prints? Do you prefer neutral or bold colors? What kind of necklines do you like?

Once you have identified your style, consider how your daily life affects your chosen clothes. What is your lifestyle? Does your job have a specific dress code? How is your social life?

Answering these questions will help you understand what items you need and guide you in planning for your minimal wardrobe.

Step 2: Plan for your minimalist wardrobe

Now, you have a picture of what you need to plan for your minimalist wardrobe. Decide how many pieces you want to have for each clothing item.

Next, choose a color scheme for your clothes with neutral colors like white, grey, black, or cream.

Finally, think about the fabrics. Choose sustainable and breathable fabrics like organic cotton and linen.

Step 3: Do a wardrobe audit

Your minimalist wardrobe is planned, but what is in your current closet? It’s now time to do an audit of your existing closet. A wardrobe audit helps you identify what clothes you wear most, what you no longer need, and what you need to add.

Remove all the clothes from your closet, and sort them into three piles; yes, no, and maybe.

Your ‘yes’ pile is for all items you plan on maintaining in your minimalist closet. These items fit your style; you genuinely love them and wear them regularly.

Your ‘no’ pile is for the worn-out items, those that no longer fit, and all items you haven’t worn in the past year. Get rid of these by donating or selling.

Keep your ‘maybe’ pile for later (sort after three months in the same process).

Step 4: Craft your new wardrobe

Now that you know your style, you have planned what you want, and you can see what is left from emptying your previous wardrobe; it’s time to make your new wardrobe.

From your plan, identify what you already have (after decluttering) and what’s missing.

The next step is to buy what you don’t have. Now, you don’t have to buy everything in a single day, which will be heavy on your pocket and unsustainable. Instead, build your new wardrobe slowly, make it fun and fulfilling, and you’ll eventually get there.

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Essential items for men’s minimalist wardrobe

Here are the essential pieces for a simple wardrobe for men.

1. Shirts Collection

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Basic Tees

No casual wardrobe is complete without an assortment of perfectly made t-shirts (v-neck or crewneck). They are easy to style, and you can create various looks.

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Have at least 2 -3 basic t-shirts that are perfect for everyday casual wear, lounging, and even working out.

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Stick to solid colors like white, gray, navy, or black for the most flexible and stylish outfits. To add to your accent, you can also go for classic patterns and long sleeves, like the Breton top.

Don’t forget to invest in high-quality pieces that won’t wear out after two or three washes. You can check out:

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Polo shirts

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One thing about polo shirts; they never go out of style and are great for casual and smart casual wear.

Polo shirts are easy to style, and you can effortlessly dress up a pair of jeans or dress down a blazer, depending on the occasion. As a minimalist, go for neutral colors, navy or black, but if you need to add more, less neutral colors like burgundy are still great and versatile.

Button-down shirts

This shirt is a smart casual must-have. Again, like polo shirts, you can dress them up or down.

The best colors are white, light blue, or navy. These can easily match any jacket or pants, and three are enough.

Dress shirts

Even if you don’t dress officially to work, there are those special occasions when you need a dress shirt.

You can get away with a single dress shirt (a white one), but I’d recommend you have at least two; a white and a non-white option. You can never go wrong with light blue, grey, or grey checks.

If you need to expand your collection, colors like darker blue, pink, or cream yellow are perfect.

Chambray shirt

A chambray shirt is a simple yet versatile staple perfect for all seasons. Get one that is not as heavy as denim yet not as light as an oxford shirt.

Sweaters/ Sweatshirts

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Unless you live in a hot climate area, having a few versatile sweaters in your minimalist wardrobe is brilliant. Knitted sweaters are especially essential for the winter and fall seasons.

A simple minimalist sweater collection would include a grey cotton crew neck sweater and a navy wool v-neck sweater. Whether you prefer v-necks, crew necks, or quarter zips, the choice of collar and color is up to you.

You can wear your cotton sweater over a t-shirt or an undershirt with a pair of jeans or chinos and sneakers or boots for an effortless casual look.

Wool sweaters go well with a button-up shirt, chinos, and dress shoes.

If you need to add anything to your sweaters collection, add a cardigan or turtleneck, though they are not essential.

2. Pants Collection

Jeans

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A good pair of jeans is not among the denim trends that come and go; it’s eternal, so you’ll need one in your closet for the most basic minimalist style.

The best colors are black, grey, dark or light jeans. A darker wash is more versatile and can be worn a few times before washing. (Hey! Who washes their jeans every time they wear them?)

Chinos/khakis

Chinos are the most versatile items to add to your pants collection. You can wear them casually with polos and t-shirts or pull off business casual clothing with tucked-in shirts.

With two pairs of slim-cut chinos, you are good to go. Of course, you should choose neutral colors like dark blue, beige, or forest green.

Dress pants

The number of dress pants you need primarily depends on what you do. If you are a working professional, you will need a few more pairs than a college student.

The good news is you can wear the trouser of your suit without the jacket.

A simple collection for a working professional would include four pairs of trousers in dark grey, grey, blue and black. But if chinos and jeans are acceptable in your office, you may want to reduce them to two pairs.

Shorts

If you live in a hot, humid climate, you’ll need at least a pair of shorts. Chino shorts are the most versatile types of shorts as they are lightweight and breathable, perfect for hot weather.

Ensure the shorts fit well, are slightly tapered, and ideally above the knee. You’ll want to avoid brighter colors, crazy patterns, and cargo pockets.

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‘Lounge pants’

You’ll always need something to wear around the house, run quick errands, or hang out with friends. This may be something like sweatpants, joggers, or athletic pants.

A grey pair of sweatpants is the male version of a white t-shirt, but navy and black are also perfect alternatives.

Swim shorts

Instead of tight-fitting swimming trunks, invest in a high-quality, tailored pair of swim shorts. The good thing with tailored swim shorts is that they are almost indistinguishable from actual shorts, so that you can wear them from the beach to the bar and back.

3. Outerwear Collection

Overcoat

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If there is one thing you need in your capsule wardrobe is an overcoat. Invest in at least one coat that you’ll not only need during the cold season but can also elevate some of your clothes into an actual outfit.

A good coat will go with anything; you can wear it with a suit or even over a hoodie or jacket.

Navy, black, or grey are perfect colors (though black may look a bit funeral). 100% wool is ideal for the fabric, but you can also go for wool-cashmere or wool poly blends. Avoid 100% synthetic fabric.

Avoid a coat that’s too long or too short; knee or mid-thigh length looks incredible.

If you live in extremely cold areas or find coats a little too formal, you may want to get a winter parka to add to your heavy-weight outerwear. A parka will serve a casual look while keeping you warm and cozy.

Denim jacket

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I love denim jackets! They are versatile enough to be worn all year round. In summer, they will serve well as transitional jackets, while in winter, you can style them over a sweater or hoodie or under a coat. How cool!

Pick timeless and classic denim that doesn’t have too many details. Also, ensure it fits well but is not too tight (You want something with enough room to fit a hoodie underneath).

Bomber jacket

Photo by Max Ducourneau on Unsplash

A bomber jacket is a versatile wardrobe essential with a timeless appeal transcending seasons and trends. Born out of the military, it has popularly grown to become a staple.

The jacket is incredibly versatile; it can be layered during the cold season and works as a perfect mid-season essential.

Raincoat

Regardless of where you live, there are days when the heavens open and rains inevitably pour. During those days, a good raincoat comes in handy.

A good raincoat is waterproof, lightweight, and perfectly fits in your bag, so you are ready when the weather takes a turn.

You can choose a trench coat, rubber coat, or tech-packed shell jacket; they all work perfectly.

Other outwear

Once you have the basics, you can supplement your outerwear with a few extra pieces, depending on your style and preference.

You may want to throw in a leather jacket, a peacoat, a fleece zip-up, or a field jacket. All these are not very essential so that you can do without them.

4. Tailored Collection

Suit

Even if you are an ‘I never wear a suit’ person, you will need one or two suits for the occasional wedding or a random interview. Include a timeless two- or three-piece suit that fits well in your minimal wardrobe.

The good thing with a suit is that you can use separates to pull off a business casual look easily.

A navy or grey suit is a safe bet. Sometimes grey may appear too corporate, so you are better off with a navy suit.

Unstructured blazer

While you can wear your suit jacket as a blazer, sometimes you want something cooler and more relaxed. An unstructured blazer helps you attain a fine balance between too casual and too formal, especially in social settings.

For this item, make sure it fits well. An overly tight or boxy blazer will terribly ruin your precious looks.

Also, it is best to choose a color different from your suit.

Dinner suit

You’ll need a dinner suit when the black-tie events come knocking. A perfect dinner suit will have the classic details- stripes on the trousers and silky lapels, and midnight blue and black are the perfect colors to go for.

Summer suit

A summer suit comes in handy when that event you’ve been waiting for falls in summer. You don’t want the discomfort that comes with sweating throughout the day.

Ensure the suit’s fabric is light and breathable, like silk or linen, and the color is more sun friendly; think pale grey, beige, or even cream.

But if you want to make your wardrobe as minimal as possible, you can make your navy suit lightweight enough for summer.

5. Shoe Collection

Dress shoes

A good pair of leather dress shoes are a wardrobe must-have. This is for formal occasions, from business meetings and black-tie events to funerals.

Please keep it simple; no toe caps, brogueing, and prominent heels. The almond toes should not be too square nor too round.

Black or dark brown oxfords are more versatile than brown and perfect for any event (even funerals).

Leather or canvas sneakers

In an increasingly casual world, you’ll need a pair of sneakers for your everyday outings. You can never go wrong with a couple of pairs of white sneakers.

They work with anything, from sweatshirts and a hoodie to soft tailoring. Just ensure to keep them clean.

Boots

Although boots are not as versatile as other shoes, you want to have at least one piece of footwear that goes above the ankle.

Depending on your style, you can go for work boots, Chelsea boots, or desert boots.

Sandals or flip flops

You’ll need a pair of sandals for the warm weather or to wear around the beach. Avoid the trend-driven rubber sliders and go for something as timeless as leather.

6. Accessories

Accessories are a fun way to uplift your style. You can never go wrong with the right accessories.

Here are the main accessories that you’ll need;

Everyday wristwatch

Ties and pocket squares

Sunglasses (I recommend Sunski for ethical recycled Sunnies)

Versatile brown leather belt

Bags (backpack or a weekend bag)

Baseball cap

Beanie

Jewelry (chain necklace, rings, etc.)

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How many clothes should a minimalist man have?

There is no definite number of clothes that a men’s minimalist wardrobe should have. The number varies from person to person, though most minimalists recommend having 24-50 pieces, including clothing, footwear, and accessories.

A minimalist wardrobe for a college student is different from that of a corporate lawyer, and what works for you may not work for another person. Again, there are no strict rules to making a minimalist wardrobe.

So, it doesn’t matter the number of items in your closet. If you have three shirts, and another person has 10 of them, and you both wear them all, that’s okay.

A minimalist capsule wardrobe’s goal is to eliminate clothing items you do not wear.

Final thoughts

Building a minimalist capsule wardrobe may sound intimidating, especially when you have to clean out your entire wardrobe and probably start from zero. But it doesn’t have to be.

Consider building your minimal wardrobe a marathon, not a sprint. However, keep in mind that it will require time and effort. When done right, your minimalist wardrobe will be so fulfilling!

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Hendrik Kaiser

I've studied biology and lived for 3 years on an off-grid permaculture farm. I love kitesurfing and keeping my body healthy and fit. Hence, I care so much about keeping our environment clean and being as zero waste as possible. Being a zerowasteman is a superpower everyone has inside of themselves, and I want to teach you how you can unleash it.

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