Getting ready in the morning can be hard, and modern research shows that streamlining any decision-making process can improve your decision-making later in the day. Therefore, we want to address something called a “capsule wardrobe” for teachers. This guide is for male teachers, we’ll have one for female teachers coming up.
A capsule wardrobe is a carefully selected collection of multi-use clothes to use both in a professional environment and outside of the office, even into summer vacation. It’s supposed to comprise the bulk of your clothing, barring extreme seasonal or specific recreational clothing you need.
It simplifies the clothing selection process while allowing a number of complete outfits through mixing and matching. Think of it as sort of a uniform for the modern age – a personalized, varied look without all of the fuss – that’s supposed to transition into your weekend life, as well.
Here, whenever possible, we’ll be focusing on premium items meant to last. Fewer pieces means higher quality for the same money! Let’s start with outerwear, which is your foundation for making a capsule wardrobe work in any season.
1. Winter Coat
This can vary a bit between climates, but cold is relative and while 60 degrees might be warm in Vermont, it’s coat weather in Florida. This is the only specifically seasonal item we’ll cover.
Therefore, I’m going to recommend an actual warm winter coat, but you can adjust this as necessary:
The Northface Quince Jacket is an all-around cold weather coat. The coat is water-resistant, down-filled, and capable of taking you anywhere in cold weather, this versatile jacket is ready to hit the slopes or keep you warm during your outdoor winter project with the students.
Keep in mind, again, the winter coat may be optional for warmer climates. You may be better off with a wool pea coat or something a little lighter.
Additionally, it’s Spring at the time of this posting, so the winter jacket can wait until later in the year. Let’s check out something a little more seasonable.
2. Light Jacket
A lighter jacket to take you through Spring and Autumn, or even cool-weather retreats in the Summer. Let’s check out a great jacket for mild weather:
The LL Bean Lightweight Wool Jacket is a great lightweight jacket. Wool is a natural heat regulator – warm in cool weather, cool in warmer weather. While this won’t make the transition to the heat of Summer, it’s a great two-season jacket to manage through the temperature swings of Spring and Autumn in comfort.
This jacket is a neutral color and will work with any workday or casual outfit you assemble. An additional benefit is LL Bean’s guarantee to repair, replace, or refund any item at any time for any reason, so this jacket could last a lifetime.
3. Rain Jacket
Rain happens. You can get drenched in any season of the year, and it always seems to rain on field trips!
The Kooples Double-Breasted Trench Coat is is made of a water-repellent technical fabric. The lenght will help you keep dry in the windiest conditions. The look is timeless, and can even go over a sport coat while looking good.
There are many variations of the classic trench coat out there. Keep a look out for a style and color that fit your price range, but keep in mind that whatever you pick should be designed to keep you dry in wet weather.
Something a little less assuming than a full-length trench coat might be the J. Crew Water-Repellent Bonded Mac Jacket.
For a casual day where you just need a little extra warmth, an all-around hoodie works well. You can pair it with anything on this list, including the jackets above for added warmth.
The Flint & Tinder 10-Year Hoodie is designed to look good and stand the test of time. Originally launched on kickstarter, the 10-Year Hoodie took off when the creators demonstrated the quality of construction and the repairability of this outstanding outerwear. It’s a little pricey for a hoodie (but not crazy) and will stand the test of time better than any other sweatshirt out there.
5. Dress Shirts
Wool & Prince. That’s the name you should remember. They use a merino wool blend – forget the old itchy wool of yesteryear – that keeps you cool, resists odors and wrinkles, and doesn’t shrink or lose its insulating properties when wet. Grab a Blue Oxford, but we recommend grabbing 1-2 more in different colors for mix-and match variations to keep your wardrobe fresh-looking.
6. Casual Shirts
We recommend a polo or two to mix things up. Something a little more casual that can still appear under a jacket (not that T-shirts can’t!) and keep the professional look while at school or at extra curricular functions. Mizzen and Main polos boast a performance material that wicks moisture, prevents sweat stains when you’re standing under the gym lights in front of a crowd of parents, is nearly wrinkle-proof, and also resists odors. Their colors mirror Wool & Prince’s, and Mizzen and Main also has a line of performance dress shirts to consider, as well.
T-Shirts are yours to decide, but keep their numbers down (say, 2-3), and have some nice ones on hand for classy casual events. Consider merino wool for temperature regulation and odor control. Solid colors, subdued prints, and clean lines are the key with T-Shirts. If the neck seam sags, toss it. Otherwise, throw on your jacket to take it to a basketball game or a PTA meeting.
Pants & Suits:
A pair of lightweight wool pants should take you through most of the year, but you can add a pair of khakis. Even better, if you opt for a full suit (below), you can separate the pants and use them as your slacks, saving you some money and paring down your capsule wardrobe. Since most schools don’t allow for jeans most of the time, you’ll need some sort of dress pants.
If you don’t end up opting for a suit, or you want a second option, a pair of L.L. Bean Washable Year Round Wool Pants in any color but black will work for you. A lighter color is more modern, with gray heather being the most modern of the neutral colors listed there.
Dress down days, afternoons, and school breaks are really what you’re yearning for when you get an online education degree. A comfortable, sharp-looking pair of jeans will round out your main wardrobe.
The J. Crew’s 1040 in Riverton Wash is a clean, simple denim with a nice color and some personality. It’s straight fit (no skinny jeans here!) and ready to go. Pair it with a jacket, below, and some great dress shoes and you’re ready to tackle Friday – from homeroom to barroom.
Check out J. Crew for shorts, too, if you want them. No jorts, ok guys?
10. Suit and Jacket
Every man needs a suit. There are a million options out there, but since you’re interested in a capsule collection, we’ll keep it simple and timeless.
A navy suit is, of course, a classic, though modern trends allow for a wide range of grays and browns to be appropriate at anything but the most formal of events. Check out Suit Supply’s Havana to start your search. We like wool due to its longevity and temperature versatility, but get what works for you.
If you opt for no suit, do yourself a favor and get a jacket with which to dress up and to create another set of outfits from your limited wardrobe. Suit Supply‘s Hudson Blue Plain jacket is a great jacket that will compliment any arrangement of items listed here. A great navy jacket can be paired with anything on this list, and dresses up even a pair of jeans with a T-shirt. You can wear the jacket in the classroom or on Parent/Teacher Night, or wear it on a night out. Look through their options – gray and brown would do well, too. Wherever you shop, avoid black as a primary suit, especially if following our advice for brown leather, below.
You should have a small handful of ties – two to three will do. They’re great accessories to accentuate and differentiate outfits. Get a couple of solid colors or simple patterns, as well as a loud pattern so you can use them at any event. The Empire Paisley in Butter at The Tie Rack would work well against a blue, purple, or white shirt. This combo will help you stand out at a school board meeting and make the students pay just a little more attention during class!
Good socks are made of wool. Again, dispel the thought of itchy, thick, hot wool socks. Today’s merino wool socks come in a variety of thicknesses, colors, and insulative properties that will take you from a day on your feet in front of a class to cold, outdoor weather. Again, wool is ultra durable and our recommendations have amazing warranties:
Smartwool makes a variety of dress socks in a number of colors and patterns. These wool socks will keep your feet dry, cool, and comfortable. Best of all, as mentioned above, wool is naturally odor-resistant, making these great looking socks even better. On top of all that, Smartwool has a no-questions-asked two year warranty on any socks. For an even better warranty (lifetime!), check out Darn Tough Socks.
Check out Smartwool for underwear, too. You won’t be sorry.
13. Dress Shoes
A shoe says a lot about a man, but you don’t want to be in pain or have to replace semi-expensive shoes regularly. In men’s shoes, you often get what you pay for, and you can get a shoe that lasts decades and looks better every year if you follow a few simple rules.
We’re going to recommend Allen Edmonds’ Park Avenue Cap Toe Oxfords in Walnut. These shoes are simple and timeless. Since we’re going with more neutral colors and a navy jacket (above), you’ll want to stick with something in the brown family, and match your belt to it. This comfortably styled shoe will work great in the classroom or at a stylish restaurant.
Allen Edmonds may be expensive, but you’re getting a lot: a sole that can be replaced, a leather upper that will last decades with proper use and is repairable to a certain extent by the company. Not only that, you’ll find that their shoes are much more comfortable than any big-box “dress” shoes you may have purchased in the past.
A man needs a pair of boots for a more rugged environment. Going on a hike, or on a biology field trip with your students? You’ll need something durable and a little more suited to the task.
We’re going to go with Danner’s Mountain Light boot, for similar reasons to the Allen Edmonds above. Made in the USA, Danner makes a quality product that is comfortable, suited to the task, and is recraftable should it ever need repair. Made with a waterproof liner, they will keep your feet warm and dry while doing forest ecology with the class, or hitting the trails on the weekend between grading papers.
15. Casual Footwear
Everyone needs a pair of sneakers. Since you already have a dressy shoe, the sneaker style is up to you – bold colors are fine, or keep it subdued to work into the mix-and-match and dress them up a bit.
We recommend Merrell Vapor Glove for warm-weather, outdoor activities. These are minimalist sneakers that don’t contort your foot to fit them. Rather, they work with the natural movement of your foot while protecting you from rocks and sticks. A natural way to walk or run to take you through summer break back into the classroom.
For minimalist/barefoot sandals, check out EarthRunners.
As mentioned before, the belt should match the shoes. Since we’re purposely working with a limited palette, you want a single belt that will hold its own in any situation, look stylish, match your shoes, and last forever. Too tall a task?
Of course not. Orion Leather Company makes belts out of single, continuous pieces of leather for durability, strength, and aesthetics. They’re handcrafted in America, and use top or full grain leather only. The 1-¼” Light Brown Harness belt is a beautiful example of the quality and design of Orion belts. It’s a simple design, unassuming while looking good, and will last longer than any bonded leather belt you’ve purchased in the past. It’s the perfect thing to hold up your pants while you’re writing on the board.
A wristwatch is often the only acceptable piece of embellishment a man is allowed to wear. Functional and potentially styling, a wristwatch can accent your outfit and help you keep time for your classroom activities without breaking the bank.
Watches are as much a matter of personal taste as they are tradition, so look around for your own style. We’ll include two all-around pieces to start you off:
The Skagen Holst Slim Leather watch is an inexpensive watch for any occasion. Dress it up or down and it’ll blend right in, keeping track of your day while staying out of the way. It’s a quartz movement, which means it’ll keep near-perfect time with almost no maintenance, but what it lacks in character compared to a mechanical watch, it makes up for in value.
The Orient Bambino keeps the same tradition alive while giving you the warmer feeling (and slightly more involved ritual) of a mechanical timepiece. The value here is amazing, but as it is an automatic watch (it winds itself when worn), it does need to be worn regularly to keep it going. Mechanical watches are less accurate than quartz, but they have a little personality to them that a lot of enthusiasts enjoy.