How to Build a Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe for Men

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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. 

Why Build a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is “a collection of clothing that is composed of interchangeable items only, to maximize 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 Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe for Men

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.

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

Nudie Jeans Dark Wash

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 up to 7 days without washing it due to the anti-odor properties of merino wool.

Shop Icebreaker Tee

Why It’s Good:

  • Made from 100% merino wool, a completely natural and biodegradable fiber
  • Washing less is good for the planet: washing and drying account for 2/3 of a garment’s environmental impact
icebreaker merino tech tee

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.

Shop Outerknown’s Shirt

Why It’s Good:

  • Made from 93% organic cotton, 7% hemp
  • Buttons made from nuts

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 this unisex style comes in 40+ color options.


Shop Colorful Standard Oxford

Why It’s Good:

  • Made with 100% Organic Cotton
  • Ethically Made in Portugal
  • Environmentally Friendly Oeko-Tex® Certified Dye
  • PETA Approved Vegan

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.

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

Shop Alternative Option

Taylor Stitch Oxford Shirt in Blue

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 Shirts

Why It’s Good:

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

Shop Alternative Options

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.

Shop Ministry of Supply Blazer

Why It’s Good:

  • Climate Neutral certified
  • Ministry of Supply has a take back program to extend the life of garments

Shop Alternative Options

kinetic blazer indigo

Capsule Wardrobe Shopping – Men’s Shoes

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.


Shop Thousand Fell Sneakers

Why It’s Good:

  • Thousand Fell sneakers are fully circular, meaning when they wear out you can send them back to be recycled
  • They are also vegan friendly

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.

Shop Nisolo’s Sandals

Why It’s Good:

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

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.

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
Adelante Black Havana Boots

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

Need Help Building Your Capsule Wardrobe?

We’d love to help you build your own sustainable minimalist closet. Check out our sustainable styling subscription to get started building the capsule of your dreams.

Questions? Comment below!

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*Article last updated 5/17/2024.


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