Crafting a minimal wardrobe isn’t always as effortless as it seems. It involves a little foresight and planning to make sure you’re prepared for any event with a range of versatile pieces that can be worn in varying combinations.
If you’re looking for information on how to start a minimalist wardrobe for yourself but are not exactly sure what’s worth adding to your collection, you might have ended up on this article looking for some advice. We can tell you you’re in the right place.
Before we get into it, we’d like to suggest reading our article on the best subscription boxes for men once you’ve read this blog, as these types of services can help you fill out an existing wardrobe with a few more options. However, you need the minimalist wardrobe basics first. So without further adieu, here is our list of essentials that every man should have in his wardrobe.
When it comes to men’s fashion, there are few items more versatile than a classic white t-shirt. Wear it under a jacket, hoodie, or overshirt, or as a thermal layer beneath something more formal – there are few settings in which this classic piece of menswear is ill-suited.
Another classic staple of the modern man’s wardrobe, a classic pair of jeans go with just about anything. While denim was originally meant to be a rugged and durable material used for everyday workwear, jeans are now a completely viable option for a smart-casual ensemble, too, so you’ll get a lot of latitude out of a pair of good jeans.
Ask any straight woman, and she’ll probably tell you that guys look damn sexy in a grey sweatshirt. We’re not sure what it is about this simple piece of menswear that gets ladies all hot under the collar, but it’s probably something to do with the effortless charm it has.
Like denim – although more recently – sweatshirts are making their way increasingly toward the more formal side of high street fashion and can create a unique, smart-casual look when paired with a smart jacket and smart, black jeans. They also make a great item to throw on for a quick trip to the local supermarket, so there’s a lot of versatility there. See our recommendations on the most stylish crewneck sweatshirts.
If there’s one thing synonymous with the ‘bad-boy’ look, it’s the leather jacket. Despite it being a long-standing fashion staple at this point, modern twists on the classic leather jacket look are still making their way to the forefront of men’s fashion. After all, there’s nothing cooler than a bad boy biker.
Perfect for the colder months and versatile enough to be worn to casual or smart settings alike, a classic fleece is something you’ll want to add to your wardrobe to keep you comfortable and stylish at the same time.
We’d recommend a navy fleece and perhaps a couple of other colours too to keep things versatile – you’ll thank us when winter comes around, and you’re not wearing the same two sweaters every day.
A smart double or single-breasted trench coat can add a little pizzaz to an otherwise modest outfit. Great for high street wearing during the colder months and the perfect addition to a first-date outfit that will give you a ‘larger-than-life’ look. We would highly recommend that every minimalist wardrobe for men include at least one quality trench coat.
White sneakers are another one of those items that started in the realm of casual sportswear and are now considered a completely viable option for smart-casual footwear.
The boldness of a pair of white sneakers – particularly when paired with a pair of dark jeans or joggers – creates a strong balance to a top-heavy look that’s on-trend at the minute. Plus, they go with pretty much anything.
White sneakers are great, but sometimes they’re a little too bold. For those days when you need something a little quieter but don’t want to compromise on that sporty, street-focused style, a nice pair of black sneakers is the perfect addition to your wardrobe. After all, you can never go wrong with black.
The tried-and-tested staple of men’s formalwear, a good, tailored navy suit will have you covered for weddings, interviews, and formal dinners for starters. The good thing is, there’s a lot of room for customization in how you wear it, so you don’t need to worry about the look getting tired too quickly. A selection of two or three stylish waistcoats with matching ties and pocket squares will significantly increase the latitude you get out of your existing two-piece.
While you can purchase a two or three-piece suit as a whole, you can also put one together for a more personal approach. We have put together some recommendations on the most stylish casual blazers for men that can get you started if it’s of any interest.
Trainers are versatile, but they don’t quite go with a three-piece suit. You’ll need something a little more formal to go with that navy suit, and you honestly can’t go wrong with a quality pair of loafers.
A pair of tan, brown, or oxblood loafers will go best with a navy suit (and you’ll need a matching belt to go with them), but it’s not a bad idea to grab yourself a pair of black loafers too to mix things up now and then.
There’s something about a black overcoat’s minimalist sophistication that just says you mean business. Every man should have a black overcoat in his wardrobe if only for the sheer versatility you can get out of it. Black overcoats can be paired with a smart shirt for a formal winter jacket or a jumper or sweatshirt for something erring on the more smart-casual side.
White Button-Down Shirt
Button-down shirts offer something a little more contemporary than your standard button-up white shirt. They’re not only more modern and more stylish, but they’re far more versatile – making a great addition to a smart-casual ensemble in your wardrobe.
While there are countless outlandish and funky sunglasses designs on the market today, you can’t go wrong with a classic pair of shades like Ray-Bans, Oakleys, or Aviators when it comes to a minimalist style. These tried-and-tested sunglasses designs have stood the test of time for a reason, and they imbue a certain timeless sense of confidence that you don’t get with the more experimental designer shades.
Sometimes you’ll need a jacket that’s warm but not too formal for dates, nights out with friends, and other events where you want to look your best. You can’t beat a classic chore coat for that minimal look, as they’re versatile enough to go with all kinds of shirts, sweaters, and jumpers as well as t-shirts and have a timeless style that it’s hard to go wrong with.
Wool sweaters have been around for centuries, and we’re pretty sure they’ll never go out of style. Whether you go for a ribbed-knit fisherman jumper or a casual sweatshirt (we’d recommend two or three of both) – you’re likely to get a lot of mileage out of it as far as minimalist wardrobes go. More importantly, you’ll be super comfy and warm while you look good, and that’s the dream.
Gone are the days of joggers being relegated to the gym. This casual item of menswear is fast becoming an essential part of high street fashion, offering a more relaxed alternative to a pair of casual jeans. Joggers are comfortable, but a pair of smart joggers can look exceedingly stylish. If you can be comfortable and look great doing it, what’s more, attractive than that?
Stylish Running Shoe
It’s probably time to hang up that pair of ten-year-old running shoes that are looking a little worse for wear and invest in a new pair of running trainers. What you wear on your feet is often the item of clothing minimalist lovers will notice first. Even if you’re only wearing them to the gym, looking good while you work out is a great way to increase your confidence and ultimately get a more productive workout out of your session.
Don’t focus on looks alone, though. It’s no good having a stylish pair of trainers if they’ll fall to bits in a few months or lack any proper cushioning to protect your joints (especially your knees). Try and find a pair of trainers that balances style with ergonomics and build quality.
Ankle socks are a small and relatively inexpensive purchase that is definitely one of the most important simple men’s wardrobe-essentials. Especially in the summer, ankle socks are a comfortable but lightweight layer that will keep your feet and ankles cool and can play a vital role in reducing the distracting elements of a minimal outfit.
For decades, socks were just a piece of fabric that you wear under a pair of shoes to keep your feet from chafing or getting cold. Nowadays, socks can be a great way to showcase your unique personality more subtly.
A fun pair of socks is bold, eccentric, and makes a great conversation starter. We wrote an article recently on the best funny novelty socks that will help fill this gap.
Like the leather jacket, the jean jacket is a long-standing essential when it comes to men’s fashion. It has a casual look that emanates a raw personality and can be customized in all kinds of ways to bring a unique look to the table. The benefit of a jean jacket over leather jackets is that it’s far more breathable, so it makes a good option in a minimalist summer wardrobe when it’s too warm for leather.
Summer Button-down Shirt
A short-sleeve button-down makes a great addition to a minimal summer wardrobe as it can be worn alone or with a summer jacket, or even paired with a knitted jumper for those unexpectedly chilly summer evenings.
What’s more, pairing a short-sleeve button-down with a long-sleeve just allows you more latitude in how you put together your outfits year-round.
Don’t be afraid to show off those legs (and make sure they get a tan). Sometimes it’s just too warm for jeans or joggers, and that’s why every minimalist man must fill his wardrobe with men’s wardrobe essentials like at least two or three pairs of stylish shorts.
Short ‘chino’ style shorts are great paired with a summer button-down shirt or t-shirt, and jogger shorts are also great to have around for a more casual look. The options are limitless – just don’t get caught in a heatwave with a pair of black jeans (you’ll thank us later).
Ditch the crocs – it’s important to have a stylish pair of sandals on hand for those spontaneous trips to the coast. If you live in a warmer climate, sandals also make great casual day-to-day for quick trips to the shop. We might be biased, but wearing a pair of thick trainers or brogues to the beach just doesn’t look right.
We touched on this briefly above, but never underestimate the role of a classic dress belt in your wardrobe. You may think it’s more of a formality in the age of elastic waistbands, but dress belts help to tie together a formal outfit, especially when paired with a pair of matching leather dress shoes.
We’d recommend having at least one brown and one black leather dress belt in your wardrobe.
Every man should have an oxford shirt in his wardrobe, no matter how minimal. Bridging the gap between formalwear and smart-casual, oxford shirts are not only highly versatile but are usually tailored in a way that brings added emphasis to all the most masculine areas like the shoulders, chest, and neck. If you’d like some further recommendations, be sure to check out our article on the 15 most stylish oxford shirts for men.