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Required Reading September 17th, 2023

The Ultimate Beginner’s Capsule Wardrobe

Required Reading September 17th, 2023

25 Pieces to Upgrade Your Style

What’s the point of buying or investing in something if you’re only able to wear it one way? If you’ve gotten to the point where you are committed to improving or upgrading your wardrobe, you want to know you’re buying the right things and that you’ll get a ton of use out of them.

So, we’re focusing on those foundational pieces to build the ultimate beginner’s essential capsule wardrobe. All 25 pieces are incredibly versatile and can be styled interchangeably as well as on their own. Another thing to note is I’m considering this a “wardrobe upgrade”, so some of those more casual staples, such as a t-shirt or henley, aren’t included.


Navy Hopsack Suit

Up first is a navy hopsack suit. Even if you don’t wear a suit on a regular basis, it’s important to have at least one in your wardrobe. One in hopsack is perfect because of the fabric’s versatility. It’s very easy to break it apart and wear the jacket, especially, as a separate.


Sport Coat

Item number two is a sport coat or odd jacket. This is going to expand your range in the business casual realm. You’re going to want one with a pattern or texture to it, like the gun club check. But if you want something, say, less four-season and a little more fall/winter, a jacket in tweed or flannel would be my choice.


White Poplin Shirt

A white poplin shirt is going to be one of your workhorse shirts and an absolute essential for any kind of business wear. Buy the best you can afford, and it will serve you for years.


Ice Blue Oxford Shirt

Our second dress shirt is an ‘ice blue’ Oxford cloth shirt. It’s great dressed up, but as the fabric is a little heartier than poplin it’s perfect for business casual and what I’d call ‘elevated casual’ scenarios.


Striped Shirt

I’m throwing in a striped shirt for the third shirt in the ultimate beginner’s capsule wardrobe. It’s good to break things up with a up with a pattern and, again, give yourself more options.  I also like this one in an Oxford cloth.


Gray Trousers

A suit will only get you so far, so having an extra pair of trousers is an absolute must. And this pair of mid-grey trousers, in particular, is among the most versatile you’ll find.


V-Neck Sweater

This is an important layering piece, as the ‘V’ cutout helps a collared shirt or a tie sit more cleanly than a crew neck would. I chose one in a light grey because I think it’s a touch more versatile than navy.


Heather Grey Athletic Sweatshirt

Grey can be much more casual too, especially with a crew neck athletic sweatshirt. A weekend essential for hanging around the house or running quick errand.


White Oxford Cloth Button Down

I’m throwing in another white shirt–this time an OCBD. The button down collar’s going to make it a much more natural fit for casual outfits. Make sure to get one with a substantial collar for that ‘roll’ effect.


Denim Shirt

A denim shirt is a great choice for dressing down a suit, but really a no-brainer in general as it gives you so many options throughout your wardrobe.


Navy Chinos

A pair of navy chinos are a supremely versatile option, especially in those cases where you don’t want to wear jeans or doing so would be a little too casual. Consider them with that a white OCBD and odd jacket for business casual, or the grey sweatshirt for a more casual look.


Khaki Chinos

A pair of khaki chinos are an absolute must. Perfect for pairing with suit separates and an easy way to “dress up” a more casual look.


Dark Denim Jeans

Moving on to denim, now. Darker denim without any distressing, fading, etc. will be the most versatile pair, especially when you’re looking to build the ultimate beginner’s capsule wardrobe. Look for something fitted, but avoid tight or ‘skinny’ fit.


Light Wash Denim Jeans

Lighter wash denim will cover the sporty, casual side of the spectrum. Definitely a weekend essential.


Dark Brown Oxfords

The default for many would be black cap-toe Oxfords, but they’re the most formal and harder to combine. A pair of dark brown Oxfords are much more versatile.



Loafers are another very versatile choice for both business and business casual wear. Again, brown will be most versatile, but try for a different shade than your Oxfords.


Cap Toe Boots

Boots are an essential for any man’s wardrobe. Consider a cap-toe boot in burgundy or oxblood. They’ll work great with denim, but you could even pair them with the grey trousers.


White Leather Sneakers

White leather sneakers are a casual staple. A blank canvas, they’ll work with most of your casual items.


Navy Overcoat

This is going to be your dressiest coat for your suited and  business casual looks. But, you can also style it in a sporty, casual way.


Navy Peacoat

Next is a classic navy peacoat. Shorter than the overcoat, it’s a great everyday piece that’s very easy to style.


Casual Coat

Rounding out the outwear category is a more casual coat. While you can go in a number of different directions here, I selected a waxed cotton jacket from Orvis in a versatile colorway.


Navy Grenadine Tie

A navy grenadine tie will have you covered in pretty much any style scenario. It looks solid from far away, but only when you get closer will you see the cool texture.


White Pocket Square

It can be easy to go overboard with the accessories. But, a simple white linen or cotton pocket square is about as versatile as you can get. It’s a perfect complement for most casual and business casual items, and certainly anything on this list.


Leather Belt

While many suit trousers these days come with side tabs and suspender buttons, a leather belt will still work well for chinos, jeans, and other more casual options. While it doesn’t have to match your shoes exactly, one in medium to dark brown will be the most versatile here.



To finish things off here, let’s talk watches. We won’t suggest a brand or price point because that’ll vary from person to person. But, instead, let’s focus on style- you want something versatile. So, go for a simple dial and then choose either a simple metal or leather bracelet depending on your overall aesthetic. Me? I’ll choose a watch with a clean, minimal dial and a brown leather strap.

So, there you have our ultimate beginner’s capsule wardrobe. Each piece is designed to work with most everything else to maximize the value and stretch your wardrobe the furthest. But, everyone’s different. Is there something you’d add or take away? Leave a comment and let us know!

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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Videography by Rob McIver

Video Editing by Ian Johnston

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