A Primer on How to Build A Men’s Minimalist Wardrobe6 min read

To say that minimalism is popular right now is an understatement. While I don’t consider myself a minimalist, the philosophy and applications that it can provide are worth exploring.

A Primer on How to Build A Men's Minimalist Wardrobe | GENTLEMAN WITHIN

One aspect of your life where you can apply minimalism to is your wardrobe. As someone who is a menswear enthusiast I have accumulated a considerable amount of clothes. And maybe you have too.

On one hand this gives us a myriad of possibilities while creating outfits, but at the same time brings more chaos and indecision as we get ready everyday.

That’s why I feel that creating a minimalist wardrobe can bring value to our lives. It means less time spent getting ready, being more conscious when purchasing items, and putting together clean and basic styles. These benefits will not only save time, but also make our day-to-day lives easier.

With that being said, I have put together a primer and step-by-step guide on how to create a minimalist wardrobe that will help you embark on this new journey of less is more.

Let’s begin!

1. Clean Out Your Closet

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The first order of business is to take everything out of your closet and start paring down, aka the wardrobe purge. Put aside the things that are worn out, damaged or don’t fit. These items can be donated, sold or if they are ill-fitting, tailored to fit.

The goal here is to take inventory of what you have by decluttering. Anything in your closet that you don’t like or haven’t worn in over a year, get rid of it, no questions asked. Doing this will help you see what you currently have and areas to fill in your wardrobe.

mess unorganized closet
Time to clean out that clutter.

In this step it’s important to only keep the items that you really love, that will compliment your new minimal wardrobe. My recommendation is to start slow and don’t go crazy getting rid of things. Like I mentioned before, put aside the things you know 100% you are not going to wear and go slowly from there.

Don’t try and clean out your closet in one day. Think of it as a marathon not a sprint. Putting together a minimalist wardrobe should be a fun and relaxing process that will take some time to execute properly.

2. Define Your Lifestyle

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One of the most important steps in this process is to define what your lifestyle is. Do you work in an office or do you work from home? Maybe you go out to bars and lot’s of social events.

Knowing what your lifestyle is will determine the type of clothing you’ll be wearing. If you work in an office and the dress code is business casual, you may not need to have several suits. Just one or maybe two suits will be enough for you, like a navy or grey suit for interviews and the occasional wedding.

If you are someone who likes to go out, you may want to invest in more casual and versatile items that could be worn for both work and play.

3 mens style archetypes
3 minimal styles under a casual style archetype.

The idea is to put together a wardrobe that will complement your lifestyle and be versatile enough to fit your everyday needs. Knowing what you do in your daily life will determine the clothes you are going to buy.

If you don’t work in the field you may not need that pair of work boots that are collecting dust in your closet. But if you work in an office you will need a couple pairs of good dress shoes. I think you catch my drift.

Buy classic polo shirts and t-shirts if you live in a warm weather climate, and invest in quality sweatshirts and jackets if you live in a cold weather area. I mean, why have a peacoat if you live in Florida, right?

3. Invest in Classics, Not Trends

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When putting together a minimalist wardrobe one of the most important factors is having pieces that will go together harmoniously. The best way to accomplish this is by picking up classic items instead of trendy ones. This will help you get the most wear out of your clothes.

Furthermore, classic pieces will always be in style and it will make things easier when coordinating an outfit. Invest in pieces with solid, neutral colors like white, navy, grey and beige.

mens minimalist basics
All you need are a few basics.

For example, a blue or white oxford cloth button down (OCBD) shirt, and a pair of grey or khaki chinos make for perfect staples in your minimalist wardrobe. These colors work together and will always give you a clean and classic look. By having classics that don’t go out of style, you will be able to own less and reduce the complexity of managing what to wear.

A minimalist wardrobe is timeless and contains pieces that can be worn for a long time, that won’t go out of style. This eliminates the need to keep buying new clothes. And that’s the key to creating and cultivating a minimal closet.

Additionally, a minimal wardrobe is versatile, thus allowing you to wear different pieces in many settings by mixing and matching endless combinations. This cannot be accomplished by buying the latest trends that will go out of style by next season. While trends come and go, classic garments are timeless and versatile.

And so, instead of jumping into the latest fashion or sneaker trends, always invest in the classics and your wardrobe will become everlasting.

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4. Quality Over Quantity

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Limiting your purchases so you don’t own too many articles of clothing will help create a unique and classic capsule wardrobe. This is achieved by going for quality over quantity.

This means to buy quality items that will last longer than the cheap stuff you can get at fast fashion retailers. By purchasing from brands that are known for using the best materials, you will prolong the life of your clothes and in the long run save yourself money.

The reason for this is that these clothes, if properly taken care of, will last longer than the cheap ones and eliminate the habit of re-buying clothes because they don’t last.

quality over quantity
Quality over quantity, always.

Simplifying your clothes with quality, timeless pieces is the most important step in achieving the perfect minimal wardrobe. The goal is to have a simple wardrobe that effortlessly dresses you for all aspects of your life. This is where the philosophy of quality over quantity comes in handy.

The less things that you own, you’ll be forced to be aware of what you have, don’t have and pieces that you can ultimately add to your wardrobe. It’s all about being more intentional with your purchases. By picking up quality items, the more minimal your wardrobe becomes, and at the same time, more versatile.

From personal experience, more clothes isn’t the solution to dressing well and neither is not having any at all. The balance is in knowing what you truly need for the kind of lifestyle you live.

How to Take Care of Your Clothing to Make them Last | GENTLEMAN WITHINRelated: You might like this article on How To Care For Your Clothes.

A Final Thought

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organized closet
Time to get organized and wear what you absolutely love.

The more options that you have, the harder it becomes to make choices. To me great style comes with having fewer clothes, not the other way around. And ultimately, this will eliminate clutter, make it easier to get dressed and save you time and money. After all, less is more.

The idea is to minimize in order to maximize at the same time. To build a wardrobe with the basics and add pieces as needed. In the end, dressing well is not about how many pieces of clothing you have, it’s about how well your wardrobe (minimal or not) works for you.

A Primer on How to Build A Men's Minimalist Wardrobe | GENTLEMAN WITHIN

About Rheny

Ren has a Master in Interior Architecture and works as a project architect for a commercial architecture firm in Orlando, FL. He is passionate about men’s style and design. He is also starting up his own apparel workout line FitMe Apparel. You can find him on Instagram.


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  1. Juan says

    Great points! 💯

  2. Mark says

    Nice article!

    Appreciate the tips. I have been trying to tidy up my closet and trying to live a minimalist lifestyle. These tips will definitely help.

    Stay safe and cool!


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