The “capsule wardrobe” represents everything we stand for at Articles of Style.
It will help you dress better, save time & money, support artisans and shop sustainably.
The key to a good capsule is that all (or most) of the items can be styled together to create different looks for different occasions, over a long period of time.
With a perfect capsule you can get dressed with style in the dark.
To give you an idea of how to build a wardrobe that is right for you, we put together an example of a capsule wardrobe for “Mr. Cozy”.
We all know this guy - he's sharp and well dressed, but also always wears fabrics that are soft and comfortable.
This capsule wardrobe (and all of the looks that follow) is comprised of only 21 carefully selected items:
1: Start with a foundational suit
Even Mr. Cozy builds around a basic suit - only his is waffle knit and feels more like sweats. It has a similar texture to a navy hopsack (and can pull the same moves) but with a significant amount of stretch and an emphasis on comfort.
2,3,4: Add three shirts
Now that you have a versatile suit to build around, start by adding three shirts. In this case: a white oxford, a plaid band collar and a blue OCBD (oxford cloth button-down).
The key is that all three shirts are versatile and work well with the suit.
5,6,7: Add three trousers
Fresco, Flannel and Cotton - all excellent choices to pair with a suit that has a prominent texture. There is still an emphasis on comfort here - the fresco breathes extraordinarily well, the flannel is soft like a blanket and the solaro cotton is built to break-in over time.
The key is that all three trousers work well with the suit jacket, as well as all three shirts.
8: Add a Bomber
As "Mr. Cozy", you probably don't need a traditional sportcoat. A good equivalent is a butter soft bamboo bomber.
The key is that the bomber works with the suit trousers, all three shirts, and all three trousers.
9: Add a chunky cardigan
Consider this another "sportcoat equivalent" - somewhere between knitwear and outerwear.
The key is that the chunky cardigan works well with the suit trousers, all three shirts, and all three trousers.
10: Add a vest
For all you comfort dressers out there - you should really consider a vest, especially in a soft fabric like flannel. This will greatly amp-up your style, without affecting your comfort levels.
The key is that the vest works well with the suit, all three shirts, all three trousers and the chunky cardigan.
11: Add a complimentary suit
Now add a second suit - again focusing on comfort, soft textures, and something that is a great compliment to the first suit.
The key is that this suit can be mixed-and-matched with the first suit, and it also works well with all three shirts, all three trousers, the bomber, the chunky cardigan and the vest.
12,13: Add two sweaters
Add two universal sweaters that are thin and fitted - like this gray cashmere mockneck and navy cashmere crewneck.
The key is that both sweaters work well with both suits, all three shirts, all three trousers, the bomber, the chunky cardigan and the vest.
14: Add a shacket
The shacket is the perfect garment for "Mr. Cozy" - it was originally designed as a more casual take on the sportcoat. And as you can see, we are big fans of bamboo fabric.
The key is that the shacket works well with both suit (trousers), all three shirts, all three trousers, the vest and both sweaters.
15: Add a heavy coat
You'll need a coat, and it's a good idea to start with something warm and rugged. Moleskin is an excellent choice for "Mr. Cozy" because it's soft, strong and exudes a casual carelessness. Like a reliable pair of jeans, moleskin develops a beautiful character as it wears in over time.
The key is that this coat works well with both suits, all three shirts, all three trousers, the bomber, the chunky cardigan, the vest, both sweaters and the shacket.
16: Add a lighter coat
Now that you have a beefy coat for the elements, think about a lighter outerwear piece that you can wear in the Fall, Spring and on milder Winter days. This wool/cashmere cable-knit topcoat, for example, has "Mr. Cozy" written all over it.
The key is that this coat works well with both suits, all three shirts, all three trousers, the chunky cardigan, the vest, and both sweaters.
17,18: Add two ties
Even Mr. Cozy's ties are soft and textured - like this flannel block stripe and silk knit.
The key is that both ties work well with both suits, all three shirts, all three trousers, the bomber, the chunky cardigan, the vest, the shacket and both coats.
19,20,21: Add footwear
Three shoes for "Mr. Cozy": black pebbled leather chukka boots, black double monks and brown suede unlined loafers.
The key is all three pairs work well with both suits, all three shirts, all three trousers, the bomber, the chunky cardigan, the vest, both sweaters, the shacket and both coats.
Now here is ~13 different looks for different occasions, using only the 21 items that make up this capsule wardrobe:
1: All business
Sometimes Mr. Cozy has to wear a full suit - luckily he's got the most comfortable three-piece suit in the game.
For the Spring (above) and Fall (below).
2. Business casual
The suit jacket can be worn as a cozy blue blazer, for a modern spin on the most classic American combo.
3. Lazy day at the office
Sometimes you're working, but you're also kinda chilling.
4: Wedding Season
The slub silk tweed - with its leisurely texture - is perfect for a wedding, party or special event.
In the Spring (above) or Fall (below).
For a more casual take, swap the suit jacket for the shacket:
5. Dinner with Clients
Slub silk jacket + waffle knit trousers - there has never been a more comfortable version of a classic separates look.
To take it one step more casual/cozy by removing the tie (and adding shades):
6. Night Out
You're going to the game, the theatre, the movies, the bar, the club, the lounge...you name it.
You're taking the wife for a nice walk, ending at your favorite restaurant.
8. Visiting Family / Friends
If the chunky cardigan (above) is too slouchy, swap it for the bamboo shacket (below).
9. The Contrast Vest
Time to bring the dapper? Take the vest from one suit and pair it with the other. The "contrast vest" is an underrated move that creates a cool texture play that always gets compliments.
10. Go Anywhere
This is one of those "in between" looks that is hard to define. We love these looks at AOS - they are not casual, not dressy, and appropriate just about anywhere.
11. Cocktail O'Clock
A crewneck is an excellent layer to dress-down a suit. This is also one of those looks that works just about anywhere - from the office to a night out.
12. Out with the Boys
Let's go watch the game somewhere nice.
Spring version (above) and Fall version (below).
13. Not sure what to wear
The best part about a great capsule wardrobe?
When you're not sure what to wear; grab any shirt, any trouser, any outerwear piece - BOOM. Done.
Now, of course, there are plenty more great combinations using only these 21 items. This article was simply meant to share the philosophy of how to build a sustainable wardrobe and get the most out of your garments.
Remember the major keys to building a lasting capsule wardrobe:
1. Buy the best quality you can afford so it will last and you won’t have to replace it.
2. Never buy anything that doesn’t fit you properly, as poor fit is a leading reason why clothing gets discarded and replaced.
3. Avoid trends and logos at all costs. Look for generational designs that will never go “out of style” and look great on you.