Most of us do not choose to have a cluttered, overflowing closet on purpose – it usually creeps up on us over time. Of course, crafting a minimalist wardrobe involves more than just decluttering, it’s about embracing a philosophy of simplicity and sophistication. The good thing is once you get the hang of minimalism, it is not difficult at all to maintain.

Note though that going minimalist does not mean tossing out your entire closet. Instead, it’s about assessing what you have to determine what will stay and what will go. Depending on what remains, you can then decide which specific pieces you need to buy to ensure you achieve the different looks you are aspiring for.

Components of a Man’s Minimalist Wardrobe

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As minimalist fashion sites like The Trending Man demonstrate, minimalist wardrobes are not a monolith. They vary as widely as personal fashion needs and style preferences. Nevertheless, the following are certain items that will almost certainly be part of a man’s minimalist wardrobe.

1. T-Shirts, the must have of a Man’s Minimalist Wardrobe

T-shirts are probably the fastest accumulating attire in a man’s closet. Over time, it can feel like you have accumulated a T-shirt for every day of the month.

A good rule of thumb when moving to a minimalist wardrobe is to stick with neutral colors such as black and white. If you must have other colors, choose block colors. If you want to try bold colors in your minimalist wardrobe, T-shirts are the best way to do this.

2. A Perfectly-Fitting Suit

You need a perfectly-fitting suit, even if you are not currently engaged in any work or activity that requires you to wear one. It is versatile, can be worn in diverse ways and may be combined with different types of attire. The suit does not have to be pricey, but you do want to pick one of reasonable quality. It does, however, have to be a great fit.

Choose a neutral color for your suit, such as a light neutral like cream or beige, or go with a dark neutral suit such as gray or black. Break up the suit with different color pants. You can also wear your blazer with denim or chinos pants for a more casual look.

3. Button-Up Shirts

You are unlikely to want to wear a button-up shirt every day of every week. However, you will almost certainly need them on a regular basis. The good thing is that button-up shirts don’t have to be formal; they can also be part of a smart casual or fun look, depending on what you match them with.

As always with a minimalist wardrobe, neutral understated colors are the way to go. That means black or white, but also gray, brown, beige and navy. With these colors, it’s a lot easier to mix and match different days of the week.

4. Denim Pants

You need denim in your closet, given how easy it is to dress up and dress down. Denim also lasts, so you have to make sure you choose something you will enjoy for years to come.

Start by determining the denim shades you are drawn to. Next, try out different denim fits. After you have narrowed down your search to the design, fit and shades you like best, get several pairs. It is hard to go wrong with black and blue, but you could get gray as well.


5. Chinos

You can thrive with one or two pairs of chinos. If you have to pick colors, choose one in navy and one in tan.

Ideally, both should be slim fit. You could also add a third pair with a wide leg for variety. The wide leg is trendy, but is unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon so it may be a worthwhile purchase.

6. Knitwear

Knitwear is not something you will wear every week. Still, at some point of the year, you will likely need knitwear. It is important that your wardrobe has at least one cardigan and one pullover.

If you are getting more than one pullover, have one light one that you can wear under tailoring, and a heavy one for those really cold days.

Choose something that accentuates your body, but also something you actually like. This could be a crew neck, v-neck or turtleneck, as examples.

7. Outerwear

Whether it’s a denim jacket, an overcoat, a trench coat or something heavier, you should have at least one quality piece of outerwear.

Denim jackets are the true definition of year-round cool. In the summer, a denim jacket is a classic addition to your evening outfit. During the winter, it goes well over a knit and under a coat. To really nail denim, however, it has to be just the right fit. Slim, but not too tight. If you can wear a hoodie and button the jacket snugly, you’ve got it right.

For the overcoat, you do not have to wear it only with your suit. Overcoats also look good over jeans and a hoodie. A black overcoat is great, but can feel a little too somber. Navy is more mood-enhancing. A good overcoat should fall mid-thigh; anything longer or shorter is more likely to be trendy, meaning it could be out of fashion quicker than you expect it to.

8. Leather Jacket

Leather is not just a timeless classic, but is versatile too. It showcases your personal style without having to think too much about it. In case you are uncomfortable with wearing real leather, there is always the option of vegan leather or “pleather.”

9. A Quality Belt

Just one or two belts will work for the minimalist wardrobe. Keep it simple. Do not go for belts with elaborate patterns or spectacular buckles. A simple belt will work with both formal and informal wear.

A good belt can make a style statement, but should be understated. After all, its primary role is to hold up your pants, so functionality should be your main consideration.

10. Underwear and Socks

When it comes to your underwear and socks, stay simple. That is, choose a good fit, dark colors and quality cotton. To avoid accumulating too many socks, make a habit of replacing them regularly, especially when they begin to show signs of wear or sagging elastics.

11. Footwear

Believe it or not, you need just two pairs of shoes in your minimalist wardrobe – one for fun, informal occasions and the another for more formal activities. Sneakers will do for the fun part, but choice of color matters. White sneakers are timeless and will go with almost anything.

For formal footwear, opt for black. You can get formal shoes that work just as well for fun occasions, as long as you match them with the right attire.

White leather sneakers by Saint Laurent

White leather sneakers by Saint Laurent

Look After Look After Look

A minimalist wardrobe works best when you have few versatile pieces that allow you to create look after look. You can then layer pieces as you wish with seasonal, trendy items.

Style is about more than just clothes, especially with something as stripped down as a minimalist closet. Be sure to finish off your look with a great cologne, and don’t forget to give life to what you wear by choosing the right accessories.

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