Introduction

Following on from my last article on being a menswear junkie, I thought I’d share a little secret with you. After my rehab in Beverly Hills, I did keep one small list to myself. And in my mind, that’s because it’s the only clothing list I’ll ever need.

I’m all about versatile, classic pieces that can be paired with absolutely everything. Nothing pleases me more than knowing I have a wardrobe that allows me to essentially get dressed in the dark and still look great. And with summer on its way, and men’s style in general favouring a more minimal ethos, simple is very much in vogue right now. The fact that I’m saving space and I don’t have to find an extra wardrobe/floor/house to store my clothes is just a bonus.

It also means that when it comes to trends, I can pick and choose what I like each season and not end up spending a mortgage on every camo or floral piece available. Instead, a camo pocket square or a floral neck tie is enough to highlight the trend whilst still maintaining a timeless and sophisticated aesthetic.

I suppose you could call this an ‘essential’ menswear list, but I hate that term due to its criminal overuse and the fact that it assumes all guys have the same taste in clothing. For example, this is not a list for a guy who has to wear a suit and tie to work every day, because if I wanted to I could just wear joggers all day and no-one would be the wiser.

In addition, I enjoy personal tailoring and I’m a big fan of American preppy classics, so obviously the list reflects that. It won’t be for everyone, and that’s good because I’d love to hear what you think has been missed or should be replaced. However, for anyone wanting to lay the foundations of a capsule wardrobe, this would be a great place to start.

The Streamlined Capsule Wardrobe

So without any further ado, let’s dive right into it shall we?

Formal Pieces
  • Navy ‘Four Seasons’ Suit – technically there’s no such thing as a four season material but I think a wool around 11-13oz is as close as you can get. You’d be fine wearing it in the summer (read: English Summer) and with a few layers or a coat, it will see you through winter too.
  • Seasonal Weight Suit – one for winter and one for summer. A medium grey tweed 3-piece and a khaki cotton suit for example. Or a brown corduroy version for winter and a cement grey linen/wool blend for summer. Both of the jackets can double up as blazers too.
  • Navy Blue Blazer – of course you can make the jacket from the suit work overtime, but the great thing about having another one is you can play around with the details. Maybe opt for a peak lapel or some patch pockets; inject a bit of personality either way.
  • White & Blue Dress Shirts – make sure you focus on quality and fit. Get two solid versions of each colour and then one more of each in a pattern such as a blue butcher’s stripe and a white herringbone weave. They’re the only formal, business shirts you’ll need. Oh OK, throw a pink one in for good luck.
  • Black Tie Options – a solid silk neck tie in black is a ‘Top 5′ item guys. A black bowtie in grosgrain isn’t as important but will come in handy at seriously formal occasions. Get both.
  • Tuxedo – save up for this. A guy will never look better than he does in a tuxedo. Sure you could rent, but they never fit properly and it’s more than likely you’ll wear one plenty of times in your years, so invest. A midnight blue version with black grosgrain shawl lapels is what I’m eyeing up these days.
  • Other Seasonal Ties – knitted silk ties in various colours. Grey and brown wool ties for winter. Madras and linen for summer.
  • Grey Wool Trousers – preferably in a dark grey, suitable for work and play.

Examples:

  • Reiss Evoque Two Button Notch Wool SuitReiss Evoque Two Button Notch Wool Suit
  • Topman Premium Grey Vargas Herringbone Heritage Three Piece SuitTopman Premium Grey Vargas Herringbone Heritage Three Piece Suit
  • A.p.c. Woven-linen And Wool-blend SuitA.p.c. Woven-linen And Wool-blend Suit
  • Allsaints Javal JacketAllsaints Javal Jacket
  • Moss Bros Marcella Normal Collar Tailored Fit Dress ShirtMoss Bros Marcella Normal Collar Tailored Fit Dress Shirt
  • Austin Reed Austin Reed Blue ShirtAustin Reed Austin Reed Blue Shirt
  • Reiss Brooker Plain Silk TieReiss Brooker Plain Silk Tie
  • Paul Smith Bow TiePaul Smith Bow Tie
  • Ps By Paul Smith TuxedoPs By Paul Smith Tuxedo
  • Topman Charcoal Herringbone TrousersTopman Charcoal Herringbone Trousers
  • Reiss Badlands Linen Melange TieReiss Badlands Linen Melange Tie
  • Thom Browne Plaid Wool TieThom Browne Plaid Wool Tie
Versatile Basics/Separates
  • Beige Chinos – they’re a classic and are perfect for any occasion.
  • Selvedge Indigo Jeans – OK, not selvedge if you’re on a budget but considering how they’re probably the only jeans you’ll ever need, they would be worth saving up for.
  • Neutral Cotton Shorts – essential for the summer. Buy them in timeless colours such as navy, black, khaki or beige.
  • Oxford Cloth Button-Down Shirts – white, blue and pink is all you need my friend.
  • Flannel Plaid Shirt – can be in red, blue or green but just make sure the checks aren’t too big.
  • V-neck Jumpers & Cardigans – aim for quality such as merino wool or cashmere and stick to versatile colours such as grey, beige, brown and navy.
  • Shawl Neck Cardigans – chunky knit but slim cut in navy and grey.
  • T-shirts – crew necks in white, grey and navy. Buy spares.
  • Polo Shirts – same as above.
  • Crew Neck Sweater – in grey or navy for those lazy Sundays on the sofa.
  • Navy Pea Coat – easy style points and can be found for cheap at army surplus stores.
  • Waxed Cotton Field Jacket – Barbour style, in olive. Again, scour vintage shops and ebay for cheaper versions.

Examples:

  • Topman Stone Skinny ChinosTopman Stone Skinny Chinos
  • Levis Jeans 501 Straight Fit HookLevis Jeans 501 Straight Fit Hook
  • Shore Leave Navy Garment Dye ShortsShore Leave Navy Garment Dye Shorts
  • Asos Oxford ShirtAsos Oxford Shirt
  • Farah Vintage White Oxford ShirtFarah Vintage White Oxford Shirt
  • Scotch & Soda Flannel Red & Grey Check ShirtScotch & Soda Flannel Red & Grey Check Shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Cotton Nylon V-neck CardiganUniqlo Men Cotton Nylon V-neck Cardigan
  • Allsaints Fritz V-neck JumperAllsaints Fritz V-neck Jumper
  • Uniqlo Men Linen Cotton Shawl Collar CardiganUniqlo Men Linen Cotton Shawl Collar Cardigan
  • American Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirtAmerican Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Reiss 1971 Westin Pique Polo Shirt With LogoReiss 1971 Westin Pique Polo Shirt With Logo
  • Allsaints Baxley Crew T-shirtAllsaints Baxley Crew T-shirt
  • Our Legacy 50’s Great Grey SweatOur Legacy 50’s Great Grey Sweat
  • Asos PeacoatAsos Peacoat
  • Topman Hype Waxed Jacket Topman Hype Waxed Jacket
Footwear
  • Plain White Trainers – obviously.
  • Dress Shoes – for example, a plain cap toe in black or brogues in brown.
  • Casual Boot – in a lighter brown. Mine are Clarks desert boots in suede. Don’t be too precious with them.

Examples:

  • Asos Shoes In LeatherAsos Shoes In Leather
  • Asos Desert Boots In SuedeAsos Desert Boots In Suede
  • Common Projects Achilles Leather SneakersCommon Projects Achilles Leather Sneakers
  • Reiss Toronto Double Sole Toe Cap Derby ShoesReiss Toronto Double Sole Toe Cap Derby Shoes
  • Allsaints Cabot BootAllsaints Cabot Boot
  • Converse Jack Purcell Leather OxConverse Jack Purcell Leather Ox
Adjusting For Seasons/Trends

There you have it. What I tend to do – now that I own nearly all the items on this list – is allow myself a few seasonal options. For example, this winter I wanted to pick up some brown cords, a Fair Isle jumper and a roll neck. This summer I would like a pair of madras shorts, a linen patch pocket blazer and a panama hat.

I’ve also not been too accessories heavy because they’re the details that communicate YOUR personality – so go with what you feel does just that.

Final Words

As previously mentioned, this list isn’t for everyone; it’s genuinely the one that I have on my iPhone. Some of you might prefer swapping out the suits for separates; others might substitute the more casual pieces like the t-shirts and polos for more tailoring.

However, what it does give you is an idea what a man’s versatile and classic wardrobe should look like. This list is a good starting point for you to then go on and truly develop your own personal style.

As always, I’m interested in hearing what you guys think. Is there anything that has been criminally neglected from it? Do I need less or more? Let me know in the comments section.

Matt Allinson