Summer 2021 Capsule Wardrobe For Men

For men who want to look stylish without racking their brains about how to coordinate their clothes, a capsule wardrobe is a life-saver.

What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?

The premise of a capsule wardrobe is that you come up with a reduced set of clothes that coordinate well between each other, whatever piece you reach for. The point is to declutter your wardrobe and make it easier to get dressed in the morning.

When it comes to building a capsule wardrobe, there are, however, a few things to keep in mind.

First, because of a minimalist nature of a capsule wardrobe, you should make sure that you really like each and every piece in it. The beauty of a capsule wardrobe is that your choice is limited. To put it another way, you're going to be stuck with these clothes for a while, so be sure you feel comfortable and confident in the pieces you choose.

Second, a capsule wardrobe should fit your lifestyle. If you have an office job, your capsule collection will lean on the smarter side. If your daily setting is casual, then you'll want to throw in an extra t-shirt and cut back on the oxford shirts. You get the idea.

When building a capsule wardrobe, it's better to avoid colorful, look-at-me pieces that draw attention on each occasion you wear them (which is going to be often with a limited wardrobe) and thus create a sense that you only have a handful of items (which is true). So it's smart to stick to solid, muted colors and subtle patterns, if any. People won't notice that you repeat basics, but they'll notice that you always look put-together.

Finally, along with a year-round capsule wardrobe, capsule collections may also be built for a specific season. If the idea of rethinking your whole wardrobe is too overwhelming, now is a great time to select your summer capsule wardrobe, and you can add other pieces when the colder season comes.

Summer 2021 Capsule Wardrobe Staples For Men

In this article, we'll present a summer capsule wardrobe for men who work in a smart casual setting, where a suit and tie are not required. The ration between smart and casual pieces suggested here may be different for you, depending on your lifestyle and work dress code.


In White, Grey, Navy, Black or Breton Stripes

Basic t-shirts are a must-have for a summer capsule wardrobe or any wardrobe for that matter. To ensure versatility, opt for neutral colors, such as white, grey, charcoal, navy, or black. Avoid loud, graphic t-shirts. If you want to add some flavor to your wardrobe, thin horizontal stripes are a neutral pattern that will give you variety without compromising on the mix-and-matching capabilities.

Authentic Supima Cotton Crew-Neck T-Shirt, $26.50

3 Pack Slim Stretch Crew Neck T-Shirts, $48.00

Uniqlo Supima Cotton Crew-Neck T-Shirt, $5.90

As for the necklines, crew-neck t-shirts are most universal, but there are other options too. For instance, v-neck t-shirts, which are also a preferred choice as undershirts, because the neckline is not visible. Another option is a slim-fit polo shirt in a breathable fabric that strikes the perfect balance between smart and casual.

Authentic Supima Cotton V-Neck T-Shirt, $26.50

Slim Solid Moisture-Wicking V-Neck T-Shirt, $18.00

It is a good idea to include a long-sleeve t-shirt in your summer capsule wardrobe for chillier casual outings.

Textured Moisture-Wicking Henley, $30.00 marked down from $60.00

Long-Sleeve Button-Up Shirts

In White, Light Blue, Light Grey or Lavender

A long-sleeve button-up shirt is a welcome addition to any wardrobe, but a certain selection of button-ups is an absolute must-have if you work in an office. It is a year-round workhorse, but when selecting the shirts for your summer capsule collection, opt for thinner cotton fabrics or high performance material. A basic button-up shirt in a solid versatile color, such as white, light blue, or light grey, is the savviest choice. If you're looking for patterns, you'll be safe with neutral prints like subtle vertical stripes or gingham check. A classic collared shirt is both office and date-appropriate. It can also be worn in a casual setting with jeans, chinos or shorts on hot days. Roll up the sleeves for a more relaxed vibe.

Mizzen+Main Leeward White Casual Dress Shirt, $98

Brooks Brothers Stretch Milano Slim-Fit Non-Iron Dress Shirt, $49 marked down from $98

Charles Tyrwhitt Slim-Fit Sky Blue Small Gingham Shirt, $29.75 if you buy 4

Nordstrom Smartcare Trim Fit Solid Dress Shirt in Lavender Spray, $59.50

Lightweight Chinos

In Khaki, Grey, Navy or Olive Green

A smart chino trouser is a stylishly versatile staple in a man's summer capsule wardrobe. It's universal and elegant enough to wear in a work setting with a button-up shirt, but also casual enough to sport with a t-shirt on the weekend.

Bonobos Tech Chinos, $58 marked down from $138

Uniqlo Ezy Dry-Ex Ankle-Length Pants in Grey, Beige or Navy, $5.90 marked down from $39.90

Lightweight Jeans

In Blue, Grey or Khaki

After wearing trousers all workweek long, most of us understandably look forward to slipping into jeans for the weekend. For your summer capsule collection, opt for a neat slim-fit pair in soft, lightweight denim. You're looking for the weight between 8 and 10 ounces, which is light enough for summer. Stick to the time-tested color options of light blue, blue or navy. One may argue that the light wash is more appropriate for summer, but keep in mind that a darker wash looks smarter on a casual Friday in the office. Alternatively, you can opt for jeans in grey or khaki tan, which are also a good choice for off-duty summer wear.

Naked & Famous Denim Men's Weird Guy Tapered-Fit Jean In 11 ounce Stretch Selvedge, $134.71

Bonobos Stretch Lightweight Jeans, $58 marked down from $98


In Navy, Beige or Grey

If you work in an office where a blazer jacket is expected, it's good to have at least two to rotate. For summer, choose a blazer in cotton or cotton-linen blend, with minimum or no lining. As for the colors, navy and grey are fail-safe options.

Built-In Flex Linen-Blend Blazer for Men, $79.99

Uniqlo Lightweight Cotton Jacket, $39.90 marked down from $49.90

Motion Tech Blazer, $229

J.Crew Ludlow slim-fit unstructured suit jacket in cotton-linen, $99.99 marked down from $168.00

Utility Jacket

In Khaki Tan, Olive Green or Navy

For an outerwear layer on chillier days, opt for a lightweight jacket that can go by different names: utility, cargo, barn, field, military, etc. It commonly features pockets and a stand-up or spread collar. This type of jacket provides a timeless silhouette and universal appeal. Plus, it will work great paired with a t-shirt and jeans as well as layered over an oxford shirt and a chino trouser combination.

Gap Canvas Shirt Jacket, $62.99 marked down from $98

Banana Republic Motion Tech Field Jacket, $160.00 marked down from $229.00

Derbies or Brogues

In Brown Leather

For office wear and date nights, your capsule wardrobe should definitely include a pair of smart shoes. Derbies or brogues are more comfortable for summer than closed-laced oxfords. As for the color, brown is actually far more versatile than black, and thus ideal for an interchangeable rotation.

Clarks Men's Atticus Lace Oxford, $29.95 - $230.26

Allen Edmonds Strand, $394.95

Canvas Sneakers

In White

Sneakers are the go-to footwear style for off-duty days and casual workplaces. A good-looking pair of canvas low-tops is versatile, comfortable and perfect for summer. White sneakers integrate well with practically any look, but you can also consider grey, navy or beige as other color options.

Superga 2750 COTU Classic Sneaker, $65

Adult Converse All Star Chuck Taylor Sneakers, $33.00 - $55.00

Vans Unisex-Adult Authentic Core Classics, $44.96 - $120.00

Extra Items For A Men's Summer Capsule Wardrobe

That was a minimal list of must-haves in a man's summer capsule wardrobe. Depending on your personal style, this checklist may be expanded with a couple more items.

Short-Sleeve Button-Up Shirt

In White, Light Blue, or Grey

A short-sleeve button-up shirt is a great way to dress up your casual looks. And if your workplace allows short-sleeve shirts in the summer, it's a win-win. If you choose the right style, you can wear your short-sleeve shirt with a tie, blazer and smart chinos as well as with jeans or chinos in a casual look.

Regent Regular-Fit Sport Shirt, Performance Non-Iron with COOLMAX®, Short-Sleeve Gingham, $79.50

Bonobos Tech Short Sleeve Shirt, $89

Chino Shorts

In Khaki, Grey, Navy or Olive Green

If you have nothing against shorts, they are a great summer alternative to chinos for your off-duty ensembles. When hunting for the perfect short for your summer capsule wardrobe, look for basic chino shorts without pleats, creases, or cargo pockets, that hit between mid-thigh and just above the knee. Slim-fit shorts can be worn with any top mentioned above, from crew-neck t-shirts and polos to rolled sleeve button-up shirts.

Gap 10" Vintage Shorts, $40 marked down from $44.95

Bonobos Stretch Washed Chino Shorts, $79

Accessories For A Men's Summer Capsule Wardrobe


Do your eyes a favor and splurge on a pair of polarized sunglasses from a time-tested brand, such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, or Warby Parker.

Warby Parker Sunglasses, $95

Ray-Ban New Wayfarer 55mm Polarized Sunglasses

Oakley Holbrook 55mm Polarized Sunglasses, $183


While we all appreciate the comfort and function provided by a backpack, wearing one in on hot summer days may result in a sweaty back. To avoid the sweating issue, you can try a sleek-looking hiking backpack with meshed back and straps for better airflow. Other alternatives are a messenger bag or bags that you can wear by a top handle (e.g. a briefcase, a backpack that converts into a briefcase, a tote bag).

Chrome Industries Vega Brief Laptop Bag 3-Way Carry Briefcase, $160

Timbuk2 Lightweight Flight Messenger Bag, $69.00 - $194.00

Filson Original Briefcase, $325

Leather Belt

A leather belt is more appropriate for office wear, as opposed to a canvas belt, and thus more versatile. A leather belt in brown or tan will complement your dress shoes.

Banana Republic Tumbled Italian Leather Belt, $39

Gap Leather Belt, $39.95

Summer Socks

Quality socks are a small but essential accessory for hot summer days. Try bamboo or no-show performance socks.

Nike Performance Cushion Crew Socks, $27.99 - $47.99

Amazon Essentials Men's 6-Pack Performance Cotton Cushioned Athletic No-Show Socks, $19.40

Summer 2021 Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

T-Shirts in neutral colors

Long-Sleeve button-up shirts in light, neutral shades

Short-sleeve shirt in a light, neutral shade (optional)

Lightweight smart chino trousers in khaki, grey or olive

Lightweight jeans

Chino shorts in khaki, grey, olive or navy (optional)

Blazer in navy or grey

Lightweight jacket in khaki, olive or navy

Smart lace-up shoes in brown leather

White canvas sneakers

Accessories (polarized sunglasses, a messenger bag or briefcase, a leather belt, summer socks)

May your summer be stylish and mornings hassle-free with this capsule wardrobe.

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