It may seem contradictory considering the main element of minimalist men’s fashion is, well, minimalism, but when done correctly, this clean style can speak volumes about your personality. Additionally, minimalist fashion can serve as a “base layer” or “gateway style” to nearly any other style.
In this article, we will cover the basics of minimalist fashion for men, constructing a minimalist wardrobe, and how you can incorporate pieces into other styles later on.
Men’s Minimalist Fashion Basics
As with all style choices, there are certain rules that apply to minimalist fashion. For example, the use of color is much more limited. Minimalist style colors consist mostly of neutral shades like:
- Navy blue
This does not mean you cannot incorporate some color into your wardrobe, but for the most part, minimalism is defined by muted tones. Some pastels may also fit into the mold, but bold colors are rarely incorporated into minimalist fashion ensembles.
We have heard minimalist fashion described as “basic” wardrobe pieces.The garments considered minimalist generally have clean, symmetrical lines, and this can lead some to believe that minimalism is akin to basic or boring. However, this is far from the truth.
For example, a t-shirt completely qualifies as minimalist, and most are underwhelmed by the simplicity of it. However, it is important to keep the cut of the t-shirt in mind, especially when shopping for your own minimalist garments. Instead of going for an oversized, baggy, chest-pocket “dad” T, opt for a slim-fitted one.
Along with the much-loved t-shirt, the following garments are great pieces to have in your minimalist wardrobe as they can be matched with a variety of other pieces.
- Button-down dress shirts
- Khaki pants
- Dark wash, slim-fitted jeans
- Plain leather sneakers
- Crew or V-neck sweaters
- Wool peacoat or trench coat
The materials in your minimalist wardrobe can vary greatly, but we recommend opting for higher-quality threads. Does this mean that all pieces must be cashmere or silk? No way! It does mean that you want to look for the best fabrics, no matter what you choose.
For example, when looking for a cotton t-shirt, you can discern a higher-quality cotton from a lower-quality one simply by how it feels. High-quality cotton is soft and has a tight weave. This means that if you hold it to a light, it will not be transparent.
Natural fibers are sometimes mixed with synthetics to improve durability, moisture-wicking, wrinkling and elasticity. It is okay to use some of these materials, but non-blended fibers are often the best for minimalist appearance.
Minimalist fashion for men does not involve a lot of details. It is simple and straightforward instead of fancy and decorative. Bright or gaudy accouterments do not belong in minimalist style. Instead, things like buttons and zippers should blend into the garment.
Likewise, accessories should not be over-the-top. A simple watch with a metal or leather band lends more to the look than one with every feature imaginable. Hats, scarves, glasses and other accessories should also adhere to the general color composition of minimalism.
How to Build Your Minimalist Wardrobe
Minimalist wardrobes are sometimes referred to as “capsule wardrobes” because everything you need should fit into one single capsule, or suitcase. Obviously, this is not always the case. The idea behind it is to cover all your bases with simple, versatile and cohesive pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of looks.
One of the best things about minimalist fashion, we feel, is that it is a reliable style. There is no need to worry about current trends. It is a time-honored, classic style that will always be relevant. Whether you are heading to a wedding, the beach or to work, you can easily incorporate minimalist fashion.
So, where do you begin when it is time to start shopping for your minimalist wardrobe. Refer back to our Minimalist Fashion Basics and go from there. Remember that colors should be neutral and cuts should be conservative and clean.
Let’s start with bottoms, or pants. Because most of your minimalist wardrobe can mix and match with each other, you won’t need nearly as many pairs of pants. Most people can get by with five to eight pairs. You will want a few pairs of jeans in a darker wash like these by Mavi or these black jeans by Brunello Cucinelli. You will also want joggers, dress pants, and shorts.
As we mentioned earlier, t-shirts are ideal minimalist clothing items. However, you cannot get by on t-shirts alone. You will want to supplement your shirts with items like slim-fit Brioni dress shirts, Brooks Brothers oxford shirts, crew or v-neck sweaters, henleys and polo shirts. Ideally, you will only need one or two of each type of shirt.
Blazers and Coats
Depending on where you live, you may not even need more than a light jacket. For the sake of our article, we are going to cover those who experience all four seasons. This means you will need a few different coats including a rain jacket, winter coat, and a lightweight jacket. You may also want to invest in a single-breasted sport coat like this one by Anatomie to dress up your basic dress shirts.
A solid-color windbreaker like this one from Helly Hansen, a Patagonia vest, or thicker work shirts can cover your lightweight jacket selection. A leather bomber jacket, down puffer jacket, or wool peacoat can keep you cozy in harsher conditions.
You can get by with classic white leather sneakers for most occasions these days. The best part about sneakers is that you can find many different minimalist styles in a variety of price ranges. The Common Projects Achilles minimalist sneaker is at the higher end of many price ranges, but the adidas Stan Smith is equally impressive to the undiscriminating eye at a much lower cost.
Remember that your accessories are not flashy with minimalist style. Instead of filling it, you need to appreciate and value the blank spaces in your wardrobe. Functionality and comfort are key. Minimalist style includes all things you truly need and nothing you do not need. In a sense, there is nothing extra, no “dead weight.”
You Get What You Pay For
This adage proves true, especially when purchasing clothing. It may be tempting to pick up two or three of those $20 t-shirts, but you will often find that after just one or two washes, they have begun to pill or lose their shape. If you end up replacing these shirts every so often, you will likely spend more than you would splurging on a higher-quality garment.
Standing Out in Minimalist Fashion
Minimalist style, though meant to blend in, can actually make you stand out and shine. There are tons of perks to minimalist style and owning a minimalist wardrobe, but we feel the top ones include:
- Fewer pieces of clothing to launder
- Clothing that can transform from day to night
- Emphasizing your physique instead of what you are wearing
- Owning the sartorial tools to mix and match for nearly any occasion
Finally, minimalist fashion can be that stepping stone or gateway to other styles. Most pieces can fit cohesively with other styles and trends, which means that you have one of the most versatile looks around with the ability to step it up at a later time.
Let us know what you think of minimalist fashion!