Fictional Style Hero: Patrick Bateman

The most stylish fictional serial killer ever

Words by Peter Minkoff

Illustrations by Giovanni Paolini

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When first released, the novel American Psycho caused quite the stir. It was even deemed so gory and disturbing in some countries that it was only allowed to be sold shrink-wrapped. Gloria Steinem in particular had an issue with the level of misogyny and violence against women, which makes the fact that Christian Bale, her stepson, plays the protagonist all the more ironic. Even Phil Collins, whom Patrick Bateman mentions on a few occasions when analyzing the evolution of music bands, wasn’t interested in reading it. Still, in academic circles the novel has been held in high regard, particularly due to the superb incorporation of postmodern as well as transgressive elements. The movie itself was wildly successful, although it was and continues to be seen as dark comedy horror and a satire of the American society, particularly relating to the greed and shallowness that epitomized the ‘80s.


It has been 18 years since the movie was released, and aside from it being a cult classic, it is undeniable that Patrick Bateman continues to be a fashion icon. Regardless of the fact that 1987, the year in which the story takes place, along with the rest of the ‘80s, was a debatable style era, the Bateman look isn’t cemented in the past. The longing for that kind of immaculateness still exists in the men of today, which only goes to show just how timeless his style is.

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The morning routine

It doesn’t come as a surprise that a Wall Street type such as Bateman is consumed by material goods. The entire decade was marked by the incessant need for money, and power and the desire to flaunt them in every way possible. For Bateman, this goes beyond expensive clothing, cars and reservations at the hottest restaurants. A straight man who knows the name and purpose of every bath and skincare product, a man so diligent when it comes to not only hygiene, but the level of pampering that would put most women to shame, is an anomaly. Yes, they’re all greedy frenemies who try to outdo each other, but Bateman, alone in his apartment, lists the products and describes the skincare steps almost to himself. In order to follow in his (only these) footsteps, you’ll need an icepack, a deep pore cleanser lotion, a water-activated gel cleanser, a honey-almond body scrub, a herb-filled facial mask, an aftershave with little to no alcohol, a moisturizer, an anti-aging eye balm, and a protective lotion. If you’ve ever wondered what the perfect skin of a 27-year-old man looks like, this is it, and that’s how you get it.

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The distinctiveness

If you’ve ever watched the opening scene in which Patrick Bateman and Timothy Bryce are sitting together in a restaurant, it’s easy to spot that they’re wearing the uniforms mandatory for their Wall Street natural habitat. However, upon closer inspection, you can’t help but notice that Bryce’s ensemble is less conservative than Bateman’s. It has a certain playfulness to it, whilst Bateman prefers a more color-coordinated approach. However, make no mistake, Bateman is a far greater fashion guru than any of them can ever hope to be. Not only does he care about the fine craftsmanship of his suits, but he also possesses an in-depth knowledge of fashion. He is not the kind of man who will purchase an item recommended by a salesperson; he will not pair it in a way he sees on someone else. This is a man with an innate sense of impeccable style, and his particular choices are what sets him apart. He has a thing for Valentino, knows a brand when he sees it on someone else, and rocks broad-shoulder jackets, whether double-breasted or not. So, if you do want to channel your inner (fashion) Bateman, go with that fit you like a glove, taking his choices as an inspiration, but don’t forget to personalize them and make them your own.

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The devil is in the details

The classic Bateman shirt is the one with bold pinstripes and a white cutaway collar (he even provides fashion advice on how to wear these and not make a fashion mistake). The repeating pattern tie, which probably comes from Hermes and he probably knows that, is always present, and he never wears the same one twice. Take note of the fact that he never wears a vest either, unlike most of his colleagues. 


Suspenders often make an appearance, and, coincidentally or not, they’re always red, as are many of his ties. Now, the color doesn’t come with the word ‘power’ before it for no reason. The red tie is a reaffirmation of strength, authority and dominance within the professional world, a type of nonchalant dominance our anti-hero is famous for, especially when addressing women. Given that he is in fact a psychopathic serial killer, the red could also stand for his thirst for blood, but it’s safer to stick to the original meaning. 


A guide to sleekness

Aside from the murderous intents, the recurring black gloves do make a nice touch, but what makes Bateman an even more poignant presence is his choice of outerwear. Whether black, navy or camel, his flawless coats are always minimalistic, with wide lapels. Men, take note: you’ll never look as handsome and polished as when wearing a great coat. Whether double-breasted or single button is irrelevant, you have Bateman’s stamp of approval for both.


Finally, don’t forget the power of a good watch, and like Bateman, don’t allow people to touch your clothes or accessories. The thing is, while merely trying to fit in and look conservative, he ended up becoming a style icon. This only goes to show that timeless cuts, a proper fit and a signature detail never go out of style.