How many pieces of clothing do you own?
If the answer is above fifty, it might be time to start thinking about downsizing your wardrobe. And while, yes, it’s always good to try new trends here and there, it’s more important to line your wardrobe with a backbone of trend-proof, versatile essentials.
Why Build A Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe will allow you to hone a personal style based on classic, timeless garments that are built to last and able to adapt to almost every occasion.
The discipline of regularly streamlining your wardrobe will not only challenge you to really think about the fit and construction of your clothes, but it’ll also help you save money in the long run – rather than regularly spending on fleeting trends, you’ll find yourself investing in high quality, go-to pieces that will set the foundation of your outfits for many years to come.
“Compared to women, men don’t have half the versatility and availability of garments, so it’s incredibly important that we take care of the details,” says menswear stylist Daniel Johnson. “This is particularly important in the summer when clothing choices narrow even further – we can’t layer as much, fabric options become less and less, and there is a reduced opportunity to style.”
So, what’s the solution?
“The answer is to craft yourself a carefully chosen and beautifully fitted capsule wardrobe for the warmer months. Summer is the perfect opportunity to pull together an uncomplicated edit of garments that can all be mixed and matched with ease,” says Johnson.
With this in mind, we bring you 22 fail-safe items every man should look to have in his capsule wardrobe this summer.
Navy Tailored Shorts
Cotton tailored shorts are a capsule wardrobe must-own for any man worth his sartorial salt.
As with most legwear though, finding the ideal pair can be tricky, so we suggest you stick to these three golden rules: they should fit perfectly at the waist, taper slightly through the thigh, and finish just above the knee.
Not only will these become a go-to smart-casual staple for any summer holiday, they’ll also sit well within your clothing arsenal back in the city where you’ll be able to team them with your blazer once the sun comes out.
“A pair of tailored shorts really steps up a guy’s game when it comes to summer style”, says Megan Collins, founder of Style Girlfriend. “Sure, it’s easy to throw on the beat-up cargo shorts you’ve had since high school that fall below your knees, but with a well-tailored style you’ll look ten times better – and feel just as comfortable.”
Brand Suggestions: Uniqlo, Reiss, J.Crew, Orlebar Brown, ASOS, Oliver Spencer, Ted Baker, Paul Smith, Ben Sherman, Mango Man.
- Ted Baker Roed Woven Shorts
- Uniqlo Men Light Weight Cotton Shorts
- Reiss Shannon S Cotton Tailored Shorts Navy
- He By Mango Bermuda Short Berlino
- J.crew 9 Stanton Cotton-twill Shorts
- Orlebar Brown Alusky Bonded Cotton-blend Shorts
Hard wearing yet light and comfortable, a neutral pair of chinos make the ideal substitute to the wool trousers you wore through the winter months.
The key to finding the right pair that won’t go out of style is all in the fit and build quality – they should sit a little lower on the hip than a formal trouser, but maintain the same rise and length in the leg and tapering toward the ankle.
Brand Suggestions: Uniqlo, Reiss, John Lewis, J.Crew, Incotex, Gap, Banana Republic, Massimo Dutti, Dockers, Levi’s, Ted Baker, Acne Studios, Canali, Corneliani.
- Dockers Alpha Skinny Chinos Beige
- J.crew 484 Slim-fit Washed Cotton-twill Chinos
- Incotex Four Season Slim-fit Cotton-blend Chinos
- Gap Aiden Slim-fit Chino
- Gap Carpenter Slim
- John Lewis Laundered Slim Cotton Chinos Light Stone
Selvedge trends come and go, but if you’re investing in a pair of timeless jeans for the coming season, you’ll want to keep the fit slim (but not too skinny).
Look for mid-rise styles that are cut close to the body but don’t cling to your knees and calves. If you have a little extra budget to play with, you might also want to invest in a pair of white jeans, which offer a neutral base for you to anchor a statement shoe, coloured blazer or printed shirt.
Brand Suggestions: Uniqlo, ASOS, Cheap Monday, Dr Denim, Nudie Jeans, AllSaints, Topman, Levi’s, Edwin, Evisu, A.P.C., Acne Studios, Saint Laurent.
- Allsaints Keiko Iggy Jeans
- Edwin Ed-55 Jeans In Red Listed Navy
- Levis Made & Crafted Jeans Tack Slim Fit Rigid
- Nudie Jeans Tight Long John Slim-fit Rinsed-denim Jeans
- A.p.c. Petit Standard Slim-fit Dry Selvedge Denim Jeans
- Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Straight Stretch Selvedge Jeans
You’ll find a well-fitted T-shirt will be your best friend during the summer months, whether tucked in to your chinos or used to dress-down your tailoring collection.
We suggest you stack your capsule wardrobe with crew necks tees in white and grey, and also incorporate an evening-appropriate black V-neck option for good measure.
Brand Suggestions: Uniqlo, ASOS, Gap, American Apparel, Next, Hanro, Zimmerli, Sunspel, Derek Rose, James Perse.
- Gap Stretch Crew T-shirt
- Asos T-shirt With Raw Edge Crew Neck
- American Apparel V-neck T-shirt
- Next Crew Neck T-shirt
- James Perse V-neck Cotton-jersey T-shirt
- Uniqlo Men Packaged Dry Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt
- Sunspel Sea Island Cotton T-shirt
- Gap Short-sleeved Crew 2-pack
- Uniqlo Men Packaged Dry V Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt
Tropical and floral prints continue to dominate the spring/summer runways – you’ll recall it was one of our key trends to keep for 2015 – and a printed tee in a basic foliage motif will make an eye-catching substitute to your neutral T-shirts when you want to make a statement above the waist.
Brand Suggestions: ASOS, Topman, River Island, Mango Man, Hentsch Man, Oliver Spencer, Ted Baker, Etro, Zara, AllSaints.
- He By Mango Leaf-print Cotton T-shirt
- Zara Floral T-shirt
- Ted Baker Swimdog Printed Floral T-shirt
- Hentsch Man Floral-print Cotton T-shirt
- Next Floral All Over Print T-shirt
- River Island Blue Floral Print T-shirt
A summer style perennial and French classic, the Breton striped top is both timeless and easy to wear.
While its heritage is distinctly nautical, this piece will look just as great on a yacht as it will on the streets. Sport yours as an extra layer over a neutral T-shirt or short-sleeved shirt in the daytime and under your blazer in the evening.
Brand Suggestions: Topman, Sandro, A.P.C., Shore Leave, Saint James, Saint Laurent, Armor Lux, Zara, Ralph Lauren.
- Zara Striped Sweater
- Topman Selected Homme Navy Stripe Jumper
- Topman Navy Striped Crew Neck Jumper
- A.p.c. Striped Cotton-blend T-shirt
- Polo Ralph Lauren Striped Cotton-blend Sweater
- Sandro Striped Fine-knit Cotton Sweater
Previously a firm streetwear stalwart, the bomber jacket is now one of the most versatile outerwear pieces a man can buy. The right bomber will team just as well with tailored trousers and brogues as it does slim jeans and trainers.
If you’re investing in just one of these, resist the temptation to indulge in one of the trend-led bombers with appliqué details currently dominating the high street. Instead, opt for a timeless neutral version that can easily be thrown on with your capsule trouser choices.
Brand Suggestions: Alpha Industries, Maison Kitsune, Reiss, Topman, Ami, ASOS, Cos, A.P.C., River Island, Sandro, AllSaints.
- Tiger Of Sweden Jeans Bomber Jacket
- Asos Bomber Jacket
- Topman Grey Jersey Bomber Jacket
- River Island Navy Blue Twill Bomber Jacket
- Reiss Cannes Bomber Jacket Navy
- A.p.c. Cotton-blend Bomber Jacket
Long-Sleeved Chambray Shirt
A chambray shirt will be the workhorse of your summer wardrobe. Not just your average button-down, it can be employed as a switch-out for your white Oxford shirt under a blazer, an extra layer to sit between your jacket and T-shirt, as well as just the thing to smarten up your jeans at the weekend.
Brand Suggestions: J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, Club Monaco, A.P.C., Incotex, ASOS, Mango Man, Uniqlo.
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Chambray Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Chambray Long Sleeve Shirt
- Gap Clean Chambray Shirt
- Polo Ralph Lauren Slim-fit Cotton-chambray Shirt
- Sandro Washed Cotton-chambray Shirt
- J.crew Slim-fit Chambray Shirt
Cotton Polo Shirt
If you’re the type of guy that tends to spend a lot of weekends away, you’ll want to invest in a well-fitting polo shirt.
Remember: the sleeves should hit around the mid-bicep mark and the hem should finish just below where your trouser fly starts. Try to keep the colour and design details as simple possible (tipping on the sleeves and collar is about as ‘busy’ as it should get) and it will quickly become your go-to for events such as nights out, lazy weekend afternoons and beach days.
Brand Suggestions: Reiss, Uniqlo, Mango Man, Ralph Lauren, Fred Perry, Sunspel, Orlebar Brown, Lacoste.
- Uniqlo Men Dry Pique Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
- Reiss Stealth Classic Polo Shirt White
- He By Mango Cotton Polo Shirt
- Lacoste Cotton-pique Polo Shirt
- Orlebar Brown Sebastian Cotton-pique Polo Shirt
- Sunspel Riviera Cotton-mesh Polo Shirt
Printed Short-Sleeved Shirt
Short sleeves have historically garnered a bad reputation in menswear, but over the past few seasons they’ve returned as a firm favourite for smart-casual dressing.
Better suited to the hotter months, a short-sleeved shirt is an ideal option for those muggy days when you don’t want to restrict yourself in a long-sleeved style, but still want to look put together.
The trick is to keep the print simple and palette muted.
Brand Suggestions: Reiss, River Island, Hentsch Man, Mango Man, Jigsaw, Burton, Farah, Sandro, Paul Smith, J.Crew, Etro, New Look.
- Allsaints Phalanx Short Sleeve Shirt
- He By Mango Slim-fit Short-sleeve Printed Shirt
- He By Mango Slim-fit Short-sleeve Ikat-print Shirt
- Reiss Beluga Checked Cuban Collar Shirt White
- Cos Printed Cotton-poplin Shirt
- River Island Navy Micro Floral Print Short Sleeve Shirt
White Long-Sleeved Shirt
You’ll be hard pushed to find a man who doesn’t already own a white shirt, but if you’re pulling together your first capsule wardrobe, it might be time to invest in something a little more suited to summer.
Prioritise lightweight cotton or cotton-linen blend versions that will help you stay looking sharp and feeling comfortable in the heat. Wear it under a blazer for a night out and dress-down Friday in the office, or with your tailored shorts on holiday.
Brand Suggestions: Uniqlo, ASOS, Gant, Ralph Lauren, J.Crew, Cos, Sandro, Theory, Reiss, Ted Baker.
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Shirt
- Reiss Arlo Linen Mix Shirt White
- Asos Shirt In Long Sleeve With Linen Mix
- Cos Slim-fit Cotton-poplin Shirt
- Polo Ralph Lauren Slim-fit Linen Shirt
- J.crew Pin-dot Button-down Collar Cotton Shirt
Lighter and more breathable than a leather Oxford, a suede brogue should be your shoe of choice for more formal summertime outings. The perfect balance of smart and casual, this style is ideal for warmer weather due to its temperature-appropriate suede construction and breathable upper.
Unlike other dress shoes, you’ll be able to build numerous looks with this silhouette – whether you opt to team yours with a suit in the evening or wear them sockless with rolled-up chinos, you’ll find there’s little they can’t be combined with.
Stick to navy, beige, grey or shades of brown for maximum versatility.
Brand Suggestions: Grenson, Church’s, ASOS, Ask The Missus, Hudson, Dune, Kurt Geiger, Ted Baker, Reiss, O’Keeffe, Mark McNairy, Paul Smith.
- Ted Baker Hontarr Suede Wingtip Derby Brogues
- Ask The Missus Cardinal Brogue Lace
- Churchs Downtown Beige Suede Floral Wingtip Brogues
- Dune Rayman Wingtip Suede Brogues Tan
- H By Hudson Haddow Suede Brogues
- Okeeffe Felix Suede Brogues
Whether dressed up for dinner in the evening or teamed with a pair of tailored shorts to hit the beach, the espadrille is the perfect casual shoe for styling through the summer.
And while you might be tempted to try the bright orange styles at E.Tautz or Richard James’ appliqué slip-ons this season, we suggest you stick with a classic navy or off-white pair so you can continue to wear them for several years to come.
Brand Suggestions: Castaner, Toms, Topman, Mango Man, River Island, John Lewis, Rivieras, ALDO, ASOS, Dune, New Look.
- He By Mango Suede Espadrilles
- Toms Canvas Classic Esapadrilles
- Kin By John Lewis Woven Canvas Espadrilles Natural
- Rivieras Cotton Mesh Slip-on Shoes
- Bellafonte Mesh Espadrill H By Hudson
- Castaner Jonathan Canvas Espadrilles
White trainers might be a key piece for SS15, but it is possible to buy into the trend and a timeless, versatile shoe at the same time.
Not only will a pair of fresh (preferably leather and mostly detail-free) white sneakers sit well with your everyday chinos, jeans and shorts, you can also use them to take the formal edge off smarter looks.
Brand Suggestions: Common Projects, Filling Pieces, ETQ Amsterdam, Cos, Lanvin, Saint Laurent, Converse, adidas, Nike, ASOS, Vans, Puma, Reebok.
- Puma Basket Leather Trainers
- Vans Old Skool Leather Trainers
- Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneakers
- Cos Leather Trainers
- Converse Jack Purcell Leather Sneakers
- Adidas Originals Stan Smith Perforated Leather Sneakers
Warmer weather means lighter tailoring, and you won’t find a more breathable or lightweight fabric than linen.
Ideal for garden parties and summer weddings, a linen suit – whether pure linen or a blend – is one of the key formalwear options when your wool two-piece becomes stifling in the summer. Opt for a season-appropriate light blue or cream iteration and pair with your suede brogues.
Brand Suggestions: T.M.Lewin, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Next, Suitsupply, J.Crew, Reiss, Charles Tyrwhitt, Brioni, Canali, Gant Rugger.
- Suitsupply Havana Light Brown Plain
- Suitsupply Lazio Blue Pure Linen Suit
- Collezione Blue Tailored Fit Suit
- John Lewis Classic Linen Suit Jacket Stone
- Stone Wilton Silk Linen Classic Fit Summer Suit Jacket
- Gant Rugger Navy Checked Linen And Cotton-blend Blazer
Navy Summer Suit
Remember: a suit isn’t just a suit – it’s also two brilliantly versatile tailored separates that can be mixed and matched with the other items in your wardrobe.
For summer, we recommend investing in a navy half-lined cotton or breathable cool wool version for maximum versatility and to ensure you stay as comfortable as possible.
Worn as a whole, it will see you through work and formal events in style, while worn apart you can throw the blazer over chinos or team the trousers with a bomber.
Brand Suggestions: T.M.Lewin, Marks & Spencer, Next, Suitsupply, J.Crew, Reiss, Charles Tyrwhitt, Gieves & Hawkes, Brioni, Canali, Paul Smith.
- Reiss Shannon B Suit
- J. Crew Ludlow Suit Jacket In Italian Cotton Pique
- Autograph Pure Cotton Tailored Fit Suit
- Suitsupply Copenhagen Blue Plain
- Acne Studios Navy Stan Slim-fit Cotton-blend Twill Suit Jacket
- Next Tailored Fit Cotton Suit
Now you’ve mastered the apparel, the guts of your wardrobe, it’s time to start thinking about the finer details. This is where you’ll be able to personalise your outfits with just a few additional extras.
Rather than overwhelm you with options, we’ve narrowed it down to just six key accessories:
- A woven belt
- A holdall (which will double up as hand luggage for summer getaways)
- A pair of sunglasses (that actually suit your face shape)
- A summer-appropriate hat (this could be anything from snapback to a Panama)
- A pocket square in a bolder colour or pattern
- A lightweight tie in a neutral colour such as navy or grey
- Ted Baker Lindaw Linen Tie
- Reiss Salt Woven Panama Hat Stone
- Ted Baker Fastben Smart Nylon Holdall
- Ray-ban Rb2140 Iconic Wayfarer Oval Sunglasses
- Thomas Pink Pocket Square In Woven Silk
- Andersons Burgundy Leather Trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt
- Isaia Knitted Silk And Linen Tie
- Mp Massimo Piombo Printed Silk Pocket Square
- Ebbets Field Flannels Baseball Cap
- Persol Foldable Acetate And Metal Sunglasses
- Andersons Brown 3.5cm Woven-leather Belt
- J.crew Montague Washed-leather Weekend Bag
While this is a pretty comprehensive list, we’d advise against reading the above as a set of hard and fast rules – there will undoubtedly be elements of your signature look that you’ll want to incorporate into your capsule wardrobe.
What this guide does give you though, is a blueprint of a classic, hard-working wardrobe and a starting point for you to refine your own personal style.
Which of these items are summertime essentials for you?
Comment below to let us know how you put together your own warm-weather line-up.