How many items, exactly, should be included is a matter of debate. Plenty of folks would say 20; plenty more would say 40. But in putting together this list, we felt like we could do with even less. Once we excluded essentials like underwear and socks—and forwent accessories like sunglasses, hats, and scarves—we wound up with with an unassailable men’s capsule wardrobe comprised of just 14 items.
Assuming you weren’t totally ruthless in your annual closet clean-out and you’re not reading this in the nude, your wardrobe likely includes most of what’s here. Congratulations: You’re well on your way. But if you want some help making sense of what you really need—or have no idea where to start—keep scrolling. Peace of mind is directly below.
The Plain White T-Shirt
Everybody needs a plain white T-shirt. Whether you’re Joe Schmoe or Joe Jonas, the right one should be the bedrock of your wardrobe. You could wear it as an undershirt, protecting your sweaters and button-ups from sweat, or rock it solo for everyone to admire, with jeans, dress pants, and just about anything between.
The Multi-Hyphenate Sweater
There are a million different sweaters to choose from once the temperature takes a dive. We dig a classic wool crewneck as much as the next guy, but in this case, we’d to point you to the king of all knits, the full-placket polo-sweater hybrid. It’s not the obvious choice, but the sheer amount of hyphens in its name is exactly why it’s the best one. Think about it: the look of a polo, the feel of a sweater, and the styling capabilities of a cardigan. What more could you ask for?
The All-Occasion Boots
By now, you’re probably getting the idea that the name of the game here is versatility. While you don’t have to opt for Chelsea boots, the right pair will be able to withstand the elements—and any sideways glances from your office nemesis.
The Charcoal Suit
Sooner or later, you’ll encounter an occasion that demands a suit. A job interview, a wedding, a funeral—there’s no avoiding it, and there’s rarely an acceptable substitute. Not sure what color to choose? If you have to pick one, make it charcoal. The specific shade we’re talking about here is formal enough for more somber contexts and the office (especially when they’re one and the same). But charcoal can play ball, too—all you have to do is wear the jacket with a sweater and jeans or ditch it entirely by mixing the trousers with a leather jacket.
The Weatherproof Shell Jacket
There’s no predicting the weather, but what you can rely on is a damn-near impenetrable slicker. On rainy days, you’ll want a shell jacket that can keep you dry through Mother Nature’s worst. If you’re layering right, you don’t really need a bulkier joint with 800-down fill (remember, we’re trying to save you some scratch here).