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How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

This article is a step-by-step guide to building your own capsule wardrobe.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A "capsule wardrobe" is a collection of garments that are spefically chosen to be mixed-and-matched in any combination to create a range of stylish outfits for different occasions. It can include anything from t-shirts to suits - depending on your needs and lifestyle.

With a perfect capsule, you can get dressed in the dark (in 2 minutes or less), always look stylish, and have a great outfit for any occasion. It takes all the effort and stress out of getting dressed because everything works toegther, so you can't make any mistakes!

You can select from our pre-designed capsules or you can design your own by combining any items in our online store (the discounts below will be automatically applied in your bag):

  • Any 3 items = 10% off
  • Any 5 items = 15% off
  • Any 10 items = 20% off 


You can combine any items from our shop, including ready-to-wear, bespoke, and accessories.

This article will give you a step-by-step guide to designing the perfect capsule wardrobe for you.

As you go through this exercise, I recommend that you start by creating your free AOS account so you can use the “Add to Wish List” function to save items and look at your capsule together. You can even send us a screenshot of your wishlist and we can provide some advice or feedback.

Let's get started:

Step 1: Establish Your Fabrics

The first step to creating a capsule wardrobe is establishing the best fabrics for you (as the fabric is the most important raw ingredient of any garment or wardrobe).

Climate plays a large role here.

For example, if you live in a warm place (like Florida or Southern California) you need fabrics that are lightweight, dry, and breathable. Think linen, cotton, hopsack, fresco, tropical wool, silk blends, etc.

On the other hand, if you live in a colder climate, you should focus on fabrics that are heavier and more dense. Think flannel, tweed, corduroy, moleskin, cashmere, etc. 

Or if you live in a wet climate, think about waterproof or water-resistant fabrics.

But it’s not all about the climate, it’s also about your lifestyle. 

For example; if you’re a business professional or an elegant dresser who enjoys tailoring, stick to traditional fabrics that are built for structure and drape; like worsted wool. 

if you’re a casual and comfortable dresser, focus on soft, stretchy fabrics with performance qualities like jersey knits and stretch cottons. 

Step 2: Establish Your Color Palette

Now that you have an idea of what fabrics make the most sense for you, the next thing to think about is your color palette

There's lots of opinions about “color theory” (the best colors to flatter certain skin tones, hair colors, etc) but what’s most important when it comes to color, in my opinion, is the vibe or energy you are creating. 

For example; dark colors like black and midnight are formal, sexy and best for nightlife. While bright, bold colors create an image that is fun, care-free and creative. 

At Articles of Style we typically recommend colors that are subtle and refined (but not boring), as we find them to be the most versatile and timeless. 

If you're not sure where to start, I recommend sticking to one of these 3 general color palettes:

1. Monochromatic: gray, black, navy. These are sharp, sophisticated, conservative enough for a traditional office setting and sexy enough for a night out. 

2. Earthtones: green, brown, rust, khaki. These are more casual and leisurely. They work well in outdoor environments and daytime activities. They also allow you to be “dressed up” but appear more casual and laid back.

3. Blues. Blue is a cheat code. It works with everything and virtually all shades of blue look great together. You can always add more colors down the line, as blues pair well with a wide range of colors.

Step 3: Establish Your “Keynote Garment”

Now that we’ve touched on fabrics and colors, the next step is to establish your “keynote garment”.

This is the first garment in your capsule. It is the foundation that you will build everything around. 

Start by taking your ideal fabric,  in your ideal color, and pair it with a timeless design that will be most useful for your lifestyle.

Think of the “Keynote Garment” as the one clothing item that best summarizes your personal style - and is most appropriate and wearable for your actual lifestyle. It can also be the garment you need the most in you  wardrobe, or the garment you are most excited  about.

Some tips on getting started;

If you’re a businessman, start with a suit.

If you’re a “business casual” guy, start with a jacket

If you’re a cool casual guy, start with a bomber jacket.

If you have an active nightlife, start with a dinner jacket.

If you work from home, start with a shacket or sweater.

Ask yourself “if my ideal style could be summarized in one garment, what would it be?”. 

You could also look at your current closet and start with an updated (or more refined) version of the garment that you have worn and enjoyed the most.

The case for the keynote suit:

Oftentimes we start with a suit because AOS suits are softly constructed and designed to be split into separates. So you get the most “bang for your buck” because of the versatility and styling options. Not to mention, there will always be occasions or special events in your life where a suit is required - and you should be prepared.

If you don’t start your capsule with a suit, I recommend starting with some kind of jacket (sportcoat, bomber, coat, shacket) as it will be easier to follow this guide and add items to round-out your capsule. 

For the sake of this example, I’m using the Sarasota Jacket in Navy from our  FW23 RTW collection as the “Keynote Garment - because it's a super versatile jacket that you can wear for just about any occasion and in every season.

"Keynote Garment" in this Example: Sarasota Jacket in Navy

The Sarosata jacket is an updated version of our famous "Silk Tweed Jacket"; a versatile sportcoat with all the texture and charm of tweed but lighweight and breathable enough for gentlemen in warm climates. It has an amazing texture and a subtle herringbone pattern that can be combined with virtually anything.

Step 4: Add Pants that work with your keynote garment

Now that you’ve established our “Keynote Garment” the next step is to add 2-3 pants that work with it. 

Ideally we get a range of color, formality and even seasonality here. 

For this example, we could add these 3 pants:


1) The Chico pant in stone is an everyday cotton chino - perfect for casual or business casual outfits.

2) The Rucker Pant in gray is a classic and conservative 4-season trouser - perfect for styling the Sarasota jacket for business or more formal events.

3) The Kings Pant in Khaki is warm, rugged, and comfortbale. These will extend the jacket into the Fall & Winter seasons and can go from the office to the weekend.

Step 5: Add Shirts

Now that we have one jacket and 3 pants, it’s time to add some shirts. 

Similar to how we chose the pants, we want to choose shirts in a range of formality.

Going back to our example, we could add the following shirts:


1) The Everyday oxford shirt in white is the dressiest of the three shirts. Nothing beats a crisp white shirt.

2) The bengal shirt in blue can be dressed-up (with a jacket and tie) or dressed-down (with a shacket, cardigan, bomber jacket, etc). It's the perfect "middle ground" shirt.

3) The Jawn shirt is a classic chambray (lightweight denim) that leans more casual but can be styled for a wide range of occassions.

The key is that each of these shirts has a different level of "formality" but can be styled with all of the items in our capsule so far; the keynote jacket and all three of the pants.

*We already have 18 outfit combinations (3 pants x 3 shirts = 9 combos. With and without the jacket = 18).

Step 6: Add Sweaters and Knits

Same idea here; now we want to add 2-3 sweaters and knits that work with everything we have so far.

For this example, we could add:


1) The Oliver crewneck is a cozy sweatear that is warm, charming and casual - but smart.

2) The Crawford cardigan is a beefy layering piece that can serve almost as a light jacket.

3) The Totman V-neck is a thinner, dressier knit that can be layered over any of the shirts and under any jacket or layer.

Again, the key here is that each of these 3 sweaters gives you different styling options - and they all work with the keynote garment, all of the pants and all of the shirts.

Step 7: Add alternatives to the keynote

This is where we start to think about range and versatility in our wardrobe. 

Importantly, these items will not be worn with the keynote jacket (because they are also jackets).

So this is where we want to introduce 1) more colors 2) more patterns and  3) more variety of styles (from casual to formal).

Of course, the trick is making sure each still works with all of the items in our capsule. 

For this example, we could add:


1) The Gramercy bomber is sleek and cool - perfect for dates or nights out.

2) The Hershey shacket is more of a country casual vibe for laidback outfits. 

3) The Cambridge hooded bomber is sporty and gives you more of an  "elevated athlisure" vibe.

Again, we want to make sure each of these pieces works with all of the pants, shirts and sweaters in our capsule so far.

Step 8: Add Polos & Tees

Next up; add 2-3 polos and t-shirts that work with everything we have so far.

For this example, we could add:


Once again, the key is that each of these pieces works with: the keynote jacket, all of the pants, all of the shirts, all of the sweaters and all of the keynote alternatives.

Step 9: Add Ties & Accessories

Finally, we polish off the capsule by adding some ties & accessories.

For this example, we could add:


You guessed it; the key is that each of these accesorries works with everything.

Finalize Your Capsule & The Outfits

At this point, you’ve put together 10-20 pieces, and everything works together. 

This is a good time to use the “Wish List” function in your AOS account, so you can to look at all of the items you’ve selected together on one screen.

Now you can start to imagine the outfit combinations, and the events/occasions you could wear them. 

You should have outfits for all the major areas of your life; work, play, dating, weekends, traveling, etc.

Give it a shot!

You can take a screenshot of your Wish List and email it to us for feedback:

Need some help?

If you need help putting everything together, you can book an appointment with me.

I will help you design a custom capsule wardrobe that is perfect for you. 

Thanks for reading. I look forward to working with you!

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier