How to Build a Wardrobe for Short Men - 19 Fall Essentials

How to Build a Wardrobe for Short Men - 19 Fall Essentials

Take a closer look at 19 core pieces that deserve a spot in your short men's wardrobe. In this article, we discuss why building a capsule wardrobe is a smarter way to spend money and save yourself time!

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe
for Short Men - 19 Fall Essentials

Confidence in your personal style comes from knowing that everything you wear works for your lifestyle and fits you just right.

If you haven’t found that confidence, it could mean that it’s time to downsize from a lot of mediocre options to the exact right ones - the ones you'll wear over and over again rather than remain hidden in the back of your closet.

If you feel like you have a lot of clothes that aren't being worn, then it’s time to talk about how to build a capsule wardrobe.

The tricky part for guys under 5’10 is that finding those perfect closet staples and building a capsule wardrobe might take a little extra time since the fit of every piece is so much difficult to get right.

If you’re still figuring out how to get your clothes to fit, head to 12 STYLE TIPS FOR SHORT MEN - HOW YOUR CLOTHES SHOULD FIT or our Sizing Guide after you read this!

In this article, we’ll cover what a capsule wardrobe is and how to build a capsule wardrobe for short men. We’ve got 19 closet essentials to build your personal capsule wardrobe!


What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

Luckily, at its core, a capsule wardrobe doesn’t mean something different for short guys. A capsule wardrobe is essentially the home base for your outfits.

It’s your collection of foundational clothing that prioritizes and optimizes utility (how much use you get out of your clothes) and minimizes excess. The idea is that it should make your self-styling an easy process.

Capsule wardrobes are especially useful for guys on the go who don’t have a lot of time to spend in front of their closets. Think efficiency.

The other core principle of capsule wardrobes is that you could get by on that selection alone. No additions are necessary. It’ll cover you for any occasion and keep you confident no matter what.

Of course, it’s not meant to be restrictive. Maybe you only want 20 items in your closet or maybe you just want a good anchor section of your closet. Either way, a capsule wardrobe will serve you.

What does a Capsule Wardrobe mean for Short Men?

So what makes having a capsule wardrobe especially important for short men? In addition to worrying about which types of items you'll need in your wardrobe, you also have to make sure they all fit properly. As we all know, shopping for clothes that fit as a short man is incredibly challenging. Finding shorter inseams or shirts that have proper porportions is often a fruitless undertaking.

If you’re creating a capsule wardrobe as a short man, then you need each piece to fit well so you can rely on it time after time. Again, don’t forget to check out our post about the fit of your clothes.

Why Do Men Need a Capsule Wardrobe?

First, you're a busy man with little time to spare staring at the inside of your closet while trying to decypher your wardbrobe. Making sense of which items match can be a frustrating time-waster. A capsule wardrobe gives you the confidence to know that all your clothes work together and eliminates the time spent overthinking what to wear each day.

Second, perhaps you’re just not completely confident in your style skills and need a set number of pieces that you know will work together and look good on you. Instead of contantly having to wonder which pieces are stylish, a capsule wardrobe will keep you loyal to timeless core pieces that you enjoy wearing.

There are a lot of reasons you would want to minimize your wardrobe. Ultimately, most guys are simply averse to clutter and items that don’t fit you just right. You’ll be so much happier with fewer clothes that fit than a bunch that don’t. Trust us.

A Short Man’s Capsule Wardrobe Should Look Like...

It should look like you've broken down your wardrobe to the basic essentials you need and love to wear. But the fact is that essentials are different for every man. For example, if you’re in the corporate world, suits going to make up most of your capsule wardrobe. For the rest of us though, there are a more types of items you will want to have accessible to you. Pay attention to what your needs are and make sure you have that covered in your closet. Don’t make it hard on yourself either. We're trying to simplify your life and make it easier to choose what to wear.

In this post, we’re breaking down our top 19 basic items to build a good foundational capsule wardrobe for short men. Pay attention to which items speak to you and your personal style. You may like really like some items - or completely dislike others! That's a good thing though; Use this list as a starting point and pick what you need and like while ignoring what you don’t. This list isn’t meant to limit your options either. Hopefully this list will start you on the path to learning which items make your unique capsule wardrobe.

19 Essentials for a Short Man’s Capsule Wardrobe

1. Good Quality T-Shirts (3-5 Shirts)

When we say good quality t-shirts, we mean ones that didn’t come in a super 12-pack. These are shirts that are worth hanging up or folding neatly.

Stick to colors that are most versatile for you. We recommend white, grey, black, navy, and perhaps olive.

As for fit, make sure the hem of the tee hits halfway down the length of the fly of your pants and that the seams hit at your shoulders. That should give you room to tuck or wear loose.

The color and fit of your t-shirt will make or break how good it looks on you

2. Dress Shirts

Keep 2 dress shirts in your capsule wardrobe: a white and blue oxford. Remember, the key is versatility and these two will give you the most.

Under 5’10 Oxford Shirts are made to fit short kings just right. They’re designed to be shorter overall with a not-too-slim cut. The great thing about oxfords is that they can be dressed up or down without missing a beat. You layer them with a sweater or blazer, or wear it untucked with jeans, as pictured here.

When you consider of a capsule wardrobe, you want to have items that can be worn in any situation for years to come. The oxford button down is the best example of that. You’re covered from work to date night.

A light blue oxford shirt is a great base for any outfit

3. Casual Button Downs

It’s good to keep 1-2 casual button-down shirts as well. This is where you can add a pattern like gingham that isn’t too flashy but adds something unique to your capsule wardrobe. Plus, subtle patterns are easy to layer - throw on a crewneck or light jacket for an easy and stylish look.

Just bear in mind that large patterns are tricky for short men. Large checks can make your torso look a lot smaller than it is. Similarly, louder colors will affect the way you are perceived; bright hues will also make your torso look larger and alter your proportions. That's why it's best to stick to muted colors like navy or gray, and keep the patters small.

Make sure to reference our Sizing Guide for the best fit on shirts for short men.

A simple gingham shirt can go a long way in adding color to your capsule wardobe

4. Polo Shirts

Polo shirts are good smart-casual pieces to keep in your capsule wardrobe. We recommend 1-2 in colors you’ll wear most. Think white, grey, olive, navy, or even burgundy. The same suggestions for the casual buttons down shirts apply here as well. Muted colors and small patterns will look more proportional on shorter men compared to large patterns and bright hues.

Also pay attention to the way the biceps look. A short sleeve polo shirt should ideally hug the bicep. Make sure there is no flaring at the sleeve - that will make your arms look smaller. It's important to have not only polos, but all of your clothes fit close to the body. Clothes that are baggy will make you look shorter.

The Pique Polo gives you that versatility while also fitting you the way a polo should. They’re definitely a short man’s capsule wardrobe essential.

Adding green to your wardrobe can be a simple but impactful way to add color to your collection

5. Navy Suit

You’ll need at least one suit for your capsule wardrobe that you can wear as one outfit or break into separates. Navy gives you the most versatility because it can be worn in dressy occasions but also to more casual affairs.

For example, a navy suit will look appropriate at a wedding, business interview, and a date at a nice restaurant. Additionally, navy pairs well with any color of leather accessories and shoes. You can wear brown, burgundy, and even black leather items with a navy suit.

Remember that jacket sizing has more options. For shorter guys, you may need a short version of your jackets to account for short sleeve length. Under 510 has suits for the shorter men, and we're working on updating our suits to fit even better than before.

A navy suit is essential for every man

6. Sport Coat

Your next item is a sport coat or blazer. This is basically a jacket without matching suit pants. But what's great about a sport coat is that it gives you a lot more options of what to pair it with. As an example, see the picture here - you can easily wear a sport coat with a pair of dress pants and a dress shirt. But the sport coat looks just as good with a pair of denim! You can even ditch the dress shirt and wear it over a t-shirt or sweater.

The same suit sizing principles apply. However, use the sport coat as an opportunity to get a fun color or patterned sport coat that can be worn more casually with more pieces in your closet.

Notice the pattern, colors, and detail in this sportcoat. @hespokestyle

7. Field Jacket

Field jackets are capsule wardrobe-essentials. They are versatile, rugged, and useful when pairing with all the possible combinations in your closet. They add an element of masculinity to your wardrobe and can actually replace a sweater or sport coat. It’s okay to let this jacket be slightly oversized and longer to account for layering. Just make sure it’s not swallowing your torso. As a short man, that will make you look even shorter.

There are also waxed and waterproof versions of this jacket. Check out options from Barbour to get you one that holds up in rainy weather.

Keep an eye out: field jackets can be found on hipsters, veterans, and celebrities alike!

8. Bomber Jacket

Bomber jackets offer big time style points and look especially good on shorter men because of their typically shorter hem. Similar to the field jacket, the bomber makes for a great layering piece since it can be worn over t-shirts and button down shirts. You can dress them up by pairing them with dressier pants, or wear them with jeans and joggers for a more casual look.

These come in a lot of different materials: leather, suede, cotton, etc. We recommend a leather or cotton material as these are versatile and always get compliments. We also recommend looking for colors like navy and army green since they pair well with a plethora of color-combinations. Make sure it’s something that is wearable and functional for you to maximize the potential of your capsule wardrobe.

Bomber jackets like this one are lightweight and easy to wear

9. Thin Sweaters

Thin merino wool, cotton-cashmere, or cashmere sweaters are great layering pieces. Stuff with cashmere content will obviously have a more luxurious feel, and are highly recommended. When you look for wool, merino wool is finer, and more comfortable than lambswool and is less prone to pilling. They’ll suit your capsule wardrobe need for the fall and winter months. Neutral colors like charcoal and dark brown are the best for color coordinating.

When considering how to size sweaters for shorter men, keep the length of the sleeves and body sweater in mind. The longer they are, the baggier they get and shorter they'll make you look. You mayu want to size up with sweaters since you will be layering these over button down shirts.

Sweaters are crucial to your wardrobe because they are fashionable and functional

10. Cable Knit Sweater

As seen in the picture here, Chris Evans showed us how it’s done in Knives Out; A cable knit sweater is a fall capsule wardrobe essential in our book. They are extremely handsome and practical since they are thick, heavy, and warm.

These also add a great deal of sophistication to your overall appearance because the cable knit has a very intricate weave. They’re great layering pieces as well and can be worn alone or over a button down shirt.

You can also wear cable knits in an oversized fit. They’re meant to be chunky and cozy, but not too long.

Chris Evans is handsome - but even he can't distact us from the even the beautiful sweater he's wearing

11. Crewneck/Hoodie

We lumped these together because you can use theses interchangably. It really comes down to personal preference since most people don't really use the hood as a funtional tool. A crewneck is easier to layer over a button down shirt so that puts it slightly ahead of a hoodie on our list . Choose the one you like more, but make sure it’s a simple color to get you the most versatility.

Under 510 carries the French Terry Crewneck Sweat Shirt which features a textured interior that feels great against the skin when wearing alone but looks great over a collared shirt.

Our very own Frankie P is looking sharp in the FT Crewneck in olive

12. Chinos (3 Pairs)

Chinos are one of the best type of pants for men. They’re comfortable, easy to style, and can span casual as well as dressier occasions. Chinos are generally made of a cotton twill (the type of weave that has diagonal lines) and most modern versions have stretch added to the fabric. Our Simon Chino is 97% cotton and 3% stretch which makes for enough stretch to keep you comfortable throughout your day.

The reason we recommend 1-3 is to give yourself some color options. Khaki, Navy, and Olive are great options to start. Check out the Simon 3.0 Chinos to see the variety.

Again, to make this capsule wardrobe fit you perfectly, make sure the chinos are the right length, fit you comfortably in the but and crotch, and aren’t too tight around your thighs. We cover this in our Sizing Guide as well.

These are also perfect if you don’t plan on getting any separate slacks or suit pants. They’ll mesh well with sport coats and blazers. They look great with sneakers, boots, and even loafers.


Chinos look great with sneakers, loafers, and boots - making them the most versatile style of pants

13. Joggers

Joggers are great casual pieces to have in your capsule wardrobe. They come in different styles, spanning from athletic to everyday wear. Joggers can come in a wide range of fabrics including, cotton, fleece, chino, performance, and many more. Also pay attention to the finishes - cuffs can be the scrunchy type or ribbed elastic. You can decide for yourself which style you like the most. As noted above, we recommend getting joggers you can wear most. They are defintely more a trendy style of pants, so you don't really need more than a couple of pairs.

The issue for shorter guys when it comes to joggers is that they are almost impossible to find in properly fitting inseams. To make matters worse, you can't take joggers to the tailor to get shortened since they do not feature a typical hem finishing. Luckiluy, Under 510 now makes joggers in 24" (labeled as "short") and 26" inseams (labeled as "regular") so you can get a pair that fits perfectly.

Bear in mind that joggers are supposed to be slightly cropped, so get an inseam that is shorter than your normal inseam. For example, if you normally wear a 26" inseam, definitely get joggers in a 24" inseam. Check out the Tyson Joggers for a good fit.


Joggers, like our Tysons, are extremely comfortable and fall at the perfect length

14. Dark Denim

Jeans are likely going to be the most versatile pair of pants in your wardrobe. But there are so many options when it comes to denim that it can be easy to get overwhelmed. For example, although most jeans come in an indigo hue, fabrics can vary greatly in weight, feel, and stretch. Some jeans will feel stiff and inflexible, while others can feel like sweatpants.

For a capsule wardrobe, defintely start with dark denim. Dark blue denim can even rival chinos in versatility since they pair well with so many different tops, shoes, and color combinations. Wear them with a t-shirt and sneakers for a casual outfit or leather loafers and an oxford button down for a dressier vibe. They also belong in your capsule wardrobe becuase they are reliable and will last for many seasons without needing to be replaced.

Our signature dark blue jeans are the Brue Slim Tapered Fit jeans because they come in a rich color, and a comfortable stretch fabric. They also feature matching tonal stitching that makes them easier to dress up. Best of all, they come in inseams starting a 25" inches so you can get a pair that fits perfectly without the need for a hem or cuff.

@Threadability shows how you can easily dress up our Bruce jeans by styling them with dress shoes

15. Light Denim

While maybe not as versatile as dark denim, we still recommend adding a light pair for your capsule wardrobe. A lighter pair will look great worn casually with the shirts and tees better than dark denim. This is especially true in the warmer months since the sunnier days tend to accentuate the light color of the jeans and make them look especially good. Of course, light wash jeans still can be dressed up with a sport coat or sweater in the winter time. Just make sure to throw on a sweet pair of brown boots too! Light wash Xavier Jeans from Under 510 is a perfect option for shorter guys looking for add this color to their capsule wardrobe.

Keep in mind that for the cleanest look you’ll want to pick denim without any intentional rips, tears or distressing to optimize its versatility. We recommend the Xavier Sorbtek Jean in Light Blue.

Our light wash jeans have a distinctly vintage look and are great for more casual wear

16. Dress Shoes

Pick 1 pair of dress shoes for your capsule collection. If you want to get the most use out of them, go for a brown pair of oxfords or derbies. The reason for opting for brown dress shoes over black is that you can dress up brown to match the formality of black, however you can't dress down black like you can with brown. For example, the gorgeous Edward Green Dovers shown here are elegant enough to wear with your navy suit, but can also be worn with denim.

Brown shoes offer the most color compatibility when it comes to pairing with the other items in your wardrobe, so make sure you buy a pair that you love since you may find yourself wearing them multiple times a week.

Sleek dress shoes like these can actually give you a taller appearance when compared to wide chunky shoes

17. Leather Boots

Leather boots are another must for your capsule wardrobe and gain, opt for brown to get the maximum versatility.

You may also want two pairs of boots - one pair for form and one pair for function. One pair of boots can be your stylish pair and one can be your bad-weather pair. Waterproof boots are a must during wetter seasons and modern brands make rain boots that are supremely stylish. You can defintely find a pair of boots that can both look stylish and keep you dry if you want to have just one pair. Make sure you have something you can wear when it’s wet outside.

Lastly, look at boots with a slight lift or heel. Those will help you look taller, which is a priceless function in a short man’s capsule wardrobe.

This boot from Allen Edmonds is made in the USA from water resistent leather, and looks great with jeans or dress pants.

18. White Sneakers

White sneakers will be your go-to casual and date-night footwear option. They’ll get the most wear and will match everything in your wardrobe. In the last few years, its also become really popular to wear clean white kicks with a suit! We definitely recommend spending a little extra money to get a high quality pair since you will get a lot of use out of these.

Keep in mind that although white sneakers do look good with some wear, you will want to replace them once they get really really dirty. Again, investing in a pair made from high quality calfskin leather will cost more, but save you money in the long run since they can be cleaned professionally when the time comes.

Find a good balance of quality and price. We love Taft, Koio, and Oliver Cabell.

These white sneakers from Common Projects will cost you a pretty penny but will get tons of wear and won't go out of style.

19. Socks

Rounding out our list of capsule wardrobe essentials is sock. Yes, socks! Most guys do not spend any time thinking about their socks. They say the first thing people notice about men is their shoes and the same can be said of your socks. If a guy is wearing yellow stained socks with holes in them, he is communicating that he is untidy and dirty.

Additionally, socks come in all different fabrics and weights that serve different functions. You should definitely have some thick wool socks for the winter, low cut athletic socks for exercise, and some thin dress socks for formal wear. Investing in better brands like Darn Tough will cost more initally but save you money in the long run because they last forever and come with a lifetime warranty.

We recommend a pack of no-show socks for warm-weather wear and 3-4 pairs of midweight calf-length socks to start. Stick to solid colors for your essentials and then feel free to add some fun patterns if you want some personality with them.

Mixing in some colored socks is a good idea - never wear white socks with dress shoes!

Final Thoughts

Creating a capsule wardrobe is meant to make you think now so you don't have to think later. If you start by building a capsule wardrobe of items you need and will wear on a consistent basis, you will save yourself time and money for years to come. Remember to focus on the fit and feel of every piece you add to your capsule wardrobe; that is just as important than as the piece itself. We hope you enjoyed our list of capsule wardrobe essentials and that it gives you an idea of where to begin. As you start to add more items to your capsule, make sure they maintain compatibility with what you already have. This will ensure you get the most out of every item in your wardrobe. Lastly, your accessories don’t have to count towards the capsule wardrobe. Feel free to experiment with watches, bracelets, bags, etc.

As always, we love to hear from our community of shorter guys! Feel free to reach out with questions and comments if you have something to add or need help finding the right item for your personal capsule wardrobe.

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