Executive Insights

The 2 biggest style mistakes men make with their suits, according to a menswear CEO

Business Insider US

Colin Hunter, CEO and co-founder of Alton Lane.

  • Wearing a suit is an absolute minefield.
  • Colin Hunter, CEO and cofounder of bespoke menswear brand Alton Lane, says overcomplicating things is one of the biggest mistakes he sees guys make with their suits.
  • He also says men tend to under-invest in themselves.


"I always hated shopping."

Colin Hunter is a man who understands the struggles men face when shopping for clothes. That's why he quit his job as a management consultant to open his own menswear company "from the perspective of a customer who hates to shop".

Alton Lane is now in its ninth year of business and has dressed high-profile clients including former presidents George Bush senior and George Bush jnr. 

As someone who deals primarily in bespoke men's suits, Hunter is well-accustomed to the myriad of mistakes guys make when wearing them.

Speaking to Business Insider, Hunter narrowed down the two biggest faux pas he sees on a regular basis.

1. Don't overcomplicate things

"We remind our clients a lot to keep it simple," Hunter says. "Don't over-accessorise or combine too many patterns — I think that's a mistake people make a lot."

According to Hunter, men often pair patterned suits with bold accessories in a way that's overpowering to behold.

"If you're going to have one piece that stands out, limit it to one. If you have a fun tie or a fun pocket square, team it with a solid shirt and a solid suit. It's good to have style that's understated and makes you come across as more confident than cartoonish."

Check out the graphic below for a visual representation of Hunter's advice:

2. Don't under-invest in yourself

Lots of guys simply don't spend enough money on themselves, which seems odd if you have to wear a suit most days of the year or even if it's for a special occasion.

"Investing in self-presentation — outside of health and education — is critical for your career; for social circumstances."

Hunter advises maximising whatever budget you have to invest in a good suit that will last: "I would rather have one nicer suit than four suits that will fall apart."

(Alton Lane)

You can make that suit go a long way — if it's the right style.

Hunter says guys should build their sartorial wardrobe around a navy suit because of its sheer versatility.

"A blue suit is something you can wear for everything from the office to a cocktail party," he says. "When you wear it as a blazer with a pair of jeans or chinos it will look less like you're wearing a suit jacket. It's gonna stand out a little bit more."

So, if you can, maximise your budget and invest in a beautiful blue suit — and don't go and ruin it with crazy accessories.


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