How to Build a Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe for Men

Capsule wardrobes can meaningfully simplify your life. At the same time, building one can feel impossible. There are too many options to settle on anything less than the most comfortable and stylish clothes — the clothes that make us feel seen as we truly are.

So what is a capsule wardrobe and why should you build one? It’s the fundamental items you reach for everyday plus some bonus items to change up your looks based on occasion. 

The What & The Why

A capsule wardrobe is “a collection of clothing that is composed of interchangeable items only, to maximise the number of outfits that can be created.”

Top 4 reasons to do it:

  • It’s more sustainable. Having less pieces of higher quality means you wear them more often. Better for the environment and for your wallet. 
  • It polishes up your wardrobe and makes your choices more intentional. You are wearing what you like best.
  • It’s great for traveling 
  • Less clothes = less stress picking clothes in the morning

We’re going to show you exactly what to buy to build a 10 piece capsule wardrobe. Provided below is a framework you can use to build your own capsule of any size and season.

10 Piece Capsule Wardrobe

We’ve built a 10 piece sustainable capsule wardrobe designed for spring + summer.

1) Chinos

Chinos should be your versatile go-to pants. They’re slightly more elevated than jeans, giving you more freedom to go from casual to business casual in the same pair of pants.

Get them in khaki so they match everything (black, navy, or olive are also good color choices).

Asket Khaki Chinos

Shop Asket’s Chinos

Why It’s Good:

  • Asket offers superior transparency and traceability of their products 
  • They share price transparency so you know you’re getting a fair deal

Shop Alternative Option

2) Jeans

Like chinos, jeans are super versatile. They don’t require much washing, making them an essential pair of pants for any capsule wardrobe.

We recommend getting a pair of dark wash jeans because they look sophisticated and are flattering on the body.

Nudie Jeans Dark Wash

Shop Nudie Jeans

Why It’s Good:

  • Nudie Jeans offer free repairs for life in store and will send a free repair kit via mail
  • The denim is made with organic cotton and vegan friendly tags

Shop Alternative Option

3) Tee

Whoever said white tees are boring just didn’t know how to wear one. This is a staple for any capsule closet.

Wear it on its own with contrasting colors (like dark wash jeans) or wear it under an open button-up shirt. You can even throw a navy blazer over it.

Known Supply White Tee

Shop Known Supply’s Tee

Why It’s Good:

  • 100% Organic Cotton
  • Known Supply clothes are signed by the maker and you can “meet the maker” right on their website

Shop Alternative Option

4) Athletic Tee

This athletic tee is perfect for the minimalist because it serves the dual function of a work out tee that can also be worn casually. You can even wear it for 6 days without washing it.

Organic Basics Silvertech Active Tee

Shop Organic Basics Tee

Why It’s Good:

  • Made from 100% recycled nylon, which uses 90% less water and 80% less CO2 compared to virgin nylon
  • Washing less is good for the planet: washing and drying account for 2/3 of a garment’s environmental impact

5) Long Sleeve Tee

Compliment your white tee with a long sleeve black one. Roll up the sleeves when it’s hot and keep ’em down when it’s cold. Looks great paired with chinos or jeans.

Kotn Black Long Sleeve Tee

Shop Kotn’s Long Sleeve Tee

Why It’s Good:

  • Kotn Offers superior traceability of their clothing
  • Ethically made with Egyptian cotton

Shop Alternative Option

6) Short Sleeve Button-Up

Throw some pattern and color into your closet with a short sleeve button-up. Perfect for summer and spring. 

Can still be worn under a blazer. We recommend grey, blue, or green. If you want something more adventurous and bold Outerknown has that too.

Outerknown Short Sleeve Button Up Shirt

Shop Outerknown’s Shirt

Why It’s Good:

  • Made from 100% organic cotton
  • Buttons are made with a recycled polyester and mother of pearl blend

Shop Alternative Option

7) Oxford Shirt in Black or White

A solid oxford provides so much function. Don’t overlook this sharp staple. Go ahead and grab it in white or black! 

Looks fantastic tucked, untucked, and under a blazer. For more variety it comes in an equally dapper striped option.

Tact & Stone Oxford Dress Shirt

Shop Tact & Stone Oxford

Why It’s Good:

  • Saves 360 Gallons of water compared to a conventional option
  • Made with 53% Organic Cotton, 24% Upcycled Cotton, 23% Recycled Polyester (rPET)
  • Ethically Made in Portugal

8) Solid Color Oxford Shirt

With a capsule wardrobe it can be hard to incorporate colors. Afterall, you want everything to match. 

The good news is that you can. Grab this oxford in a blue or green variety and it’ll still match everything else we’ve selected for you.

Taylor Stitch Oxford Shirt in Blue

Shop Taylor Stitch Shirt

Why It’s Good:

  • 100% organic cotton
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Taylor Stitch will buy back, repair, and resell their clothes for life

9) Colorful Oxford Shirt

Add more color to your closet with the Vertigo shirt by Vustra. This micro pattern adds an element of interest to your outfit while looking nearly solid from afar. 

If this color isn’t your vibe Vustra has several similar options including more neutral tones to complement your aesthetic.

Vustra Vertigo Shirt

Shop Vustra Shirt

Why It’s Good:

  • 100% organic cotton
  • Made in Fair Trade factories
  • Vustra gives back 25% to charity

Shop Alternative Options

*Use code ECOSTYLIST for 30% off

10) Blazer

A blazer is your capsule layering essential. Throw it over any of your shirts to elevate your look and prepare for that date or zoom meeting (or zoom date perhaps?)

This contemporary blazer can be dressed down with a tee or dressed up with the chinos, oxford shirt, and dress shoes for a sharp business casual look.

Taylor Stitch Gibson Jacket Blazer

Shop Taylor Stitch Blazer

Why It’s Good:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Taylor Stitch will buy back, repair, and resell their clothes, for life

Shop Alternative Option

Shoes Make the Man

1. Sneakers

White or black sneakers are essential because they match it all. Wear them with tees and button-ups alike.⁠ If you’re feeling European you can even pair them with a suit!

If white sneakers aren’t your thing opt for black or brown instead.

Veja V10 White Sneakers

Shop Veja Sneakers

Why It’s Good:

  • Natural rubber is harvested from wild-growing trees, providing a livelihood for locals and safeguarding areas of the rainforest from deforestation
  • Made in Brazil, where Veja has a robust code of conduct and pays living wages

2. Sandals

Sandals are great for summer but they tend to give off a vibe that’s unprofessional or overly casual. Not these options. 

These sophisticated slip-on shoes can be worn all summer long with tees and button-ups, all while keeping you and your feet cooler.

Nisolo Huarache Sandals

Shop Nisolo’s Sandals

Why It’s Good:

  • Ethically made in Mexico and Peru
  • Nisolo publishes their lowest wages
  • Nashville, TN based B Corporation

Shop Alternative Option

3. Oxford Dress Shoes

Oxfords are a must have in any man’s closet because they’re your go-to shoe when you need to dress up. This wingtip variety adds visual interest to your staple wardrobe without being too much.

Adelante Clasico Oxford Dress Shoes

Shop Adelante’s Oxford Shoes

Why It’s Good:

  • Adelante pays above industry standard living wages to their makers in Guatemala
  • Built to be resoleable
  • The maker signs the shoes

Shop Alternative Option

4. Boots

Boots will add a lot more variety to your closet, especially when fall and winter come around. Boots look great with jeans, tees, button-ups, and even your blazer.

Adelante Black Havana Boots

Shop Adelante’s Boots

Why It’s Good:

  • Adelante pays above industry standard living wages to their makers in Guatemala
  • Handmade shoes built to be resoleable
  • The maker signs the shoes

For shoes, we recommend at least options 1-3, with the addition of option 4 for even more outfit combinations. Since each of these shoes is vastly different, every additional pair will add a ton of value to your capsule.

Grab a belt too! For this capsule you’ll need one brown belt and one black belt (if you get the black boots).

Want to Build Your Own Capsule Wardrobe? 

We made a video outlining everything you need to know (scroll back up to watch the short guide).

For quick reference, here’s the 4 step framework for how to build a capsule closet of any size and season.

4 Step Framework for Building a Capsule Wardrobe:

  1. Set a Goal – ex: 10, 15, or 20 pieces
  2. Select the Seasons – ex: Spring/Summer
  3. Pick Your Ratios – ex: 20% pants, 70% shirts, 10% layers
  4. Choose Versatile Colors – ex: black & white, neutrals, blues & greens

We’d love to help you build your own sustainable minimalist closet. What questions do you have?

Eco-Stylist only endorses brands that pass our sustainable brand criteria. If you buy from those brands using our links, you help keep our cups filled with coffee. Learn more here.

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