Style icon: Patrick Bateman

Monday, November 12, 2012
Ok, so he's either an extremely sick and evil man or (more likely, in my view) has a very sick imagination, but it's hard to be interested in clothes and ignore the fact that the protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis's famous book is utterly obsessed by what he, and everyone else around him, is wearing. The beginning of every chapter reads like one of those strange 'what am I wearing today' threads on the more naval-gazing clothing forums and, not only that, but he and his friends obsess about the minutiae of how to wear certain items of clothing in a way that cannot help to attract the interest of a blogger like myself.

"Is it proper to wear tasseled loafers with a business suit?"
"The tasseled loafer is traditionally a casual shoe...[but] as long as it's either black or cordovan it's ok."

"There are definitely dos and don'ts ... of wearing a bold-striped shirt. A bold stripe calls for solid-coloured or discreetly patterned suits and ties."

And so on, and so on.

I'm not sure the film really does justice to the range of his wardrobe and, in particular, the way he carefully chooses exactly the right thing to wear for each event. To a U2 concert, it's "a wool jacket with wool flannel trousers, a cotton shirt, a cashmere V-neck sweater and a silk tie". I'm not sure anyone dresses like that to see bands anymore, but it would certainly do for an evening at the theatre or at a classical concert. For a day in the office, perhaps a more formal lool: "a mini-houndstooth-check wool suit with pleated trousers by Hugo Boss, a silk tie... a cotton broad-cloth shirt by Joseph Abboud, and shoes from Brooks Brothers".

Of course, Bateman's real problem is the same as some other well-dressed men I've come accross: he's enthralled (to an unhealthy degree) by details, by labels, and by what other people are wearing. There's no indication of any real flair, style or enthusiasm. But perhaps that's not surprising; he is, after all, a psychopath, desperately trying to fit in.

If we can learn anything from Patrick, it's that. Stop worrying about 'the rules', stop obsessing over every component of each day's outfit and where you bought it from, and stop worrying how other people see you.