Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, bored investment banker and possible serial killer
New York City, Spring 1988
Film: American Psycho
Release Date: April 14, 2000
Director: Mary Harron
Costume Designer: Isis Mussenden
Perceived as nothing more than a bland Wall Street banker by his friends at the start of the film, Patrick Bateman’s “mask of sanity” begins slipping away as some begin to see that there’s something darker beneath the surface.
Even his friends, never directly privy to his violent secret life, show strands of doubt after an ill-humored joke at the expense of real life serial killer’s Ed Gein’s multiple victims. Bateman tries to maintain his surface as a fashionable, successful businessman, but those not enraptured in the yuppie universe of 1987 Manhattan – notably detective Donald Kimball and poor prostitute Christie – see through the designer brands.
What’d He Wear?
Obsessed with his status as a successful (even though we never see him actually working) Wall Street VP, Patrick Bateman wears his same gray wool business suit that he wears in the office to lunch at the Yale Club with the fellas, to an afternoon assignation with his closeted gay co-worker’s fiancee, and to a more sinister evening assignation with bruised prostitute Christie and his friend Elizabeth. The film drives home the point that status is all that matters to Bateman, so why would a businessman change out of his suit when not in the office?
Bateman’s gray suit has all the trappings of ’80s men’s fashion, and it is a fine example of exactly what Bret Easton Ellis would’ve had in mind when describing his Armani-dressed antihero for the novel. The shoulders are emphasized, as is common with power suits, with extra padding and roped sleeveheads. Although Bateman clearly has an athletic physique, the loose fit of the suit coat doesn’t show it.
The rest of the jacket is also all ’80s: large notch lapels with low gorges rolling down to a low 2-button front, jetted hip pockets, and a ventless rear. Due to the voluminous fit of the suit, the ventless back doesn’t “hug” him even with the front closed.
Other, less dated details include a welted breast pocket and 3-button cuffs.
The ’80s also marked a comeback for pleated trousers, and Bateman’s suit trousers are no exception with their double forward pleats. They have a low rise, in keeping with the times and preventing the trousers from being seen over the jacket’s low button stance. The front is fastened through a single button on a pointed waistband tab just above the straight fly.
Although they have belt loops, Bateman ups his yuppie level by wearing suspenders (aka braces) that button to the inside of his trouser waistband with brown leather hooks. Though he wears two different sets of suspenders with this suit, the most prominently seen is the striped braces worn with his white shirt and yellow tie. These suspenders are dark navy with a salmon red stripe running down the middle. They intersect at the top of his back just below the shirt’s upper yoke, where a brown leather crosspatch eases the transition into a wider single white strap down the back. The adjusters are, like most of Bateman’s accessories, gold.
As usual, Bateman wears black socks and shoes, probably the same black leather perforated cap-toe balmorals he wears in many scenes.
Bateman wears two different shirt and tie combinations with this suit. The first instance, for lunch at Yale Club and a roll in the sack with Courtney, finds Bateman wearing a plain white dress shirt with a standard spread collar, front placket, and double side darts on his upper back. He wears gold cluster cuff links through his double cuffs.
With the white shirt, Bateman wears a slim yellow silk necktie with a recurring maroon floral print.
Later, Bateman spends a day in the office (and a night of mayhem) wearing the same suit with a blue shirt. The shirt itself is very similar to the other with its front placket, French cuffs, and lack of a breast pocket, but it has a very distinctive contrasting white cutaway collar. Bateman’s cutaway collar is short with short points and a very wide spread. In my opinion, the cutaway collar is very unflattering, even for a man like Bateman who considers himself the perfect specimen of masculine looks.
Unlike some shirts with contrast collars, the double cuffs are the same blue color and material as the rest of the shirt. His monogram, which appears to be “P.D.B.”, is stitched on the edge of the left cuff with dark blue thread. He wears a pair of round silver cuff links with reddish-brown centers.
His tie, which he abandons for his “date” with Elizabeth and Christie, is another busy printed silk tie with a charcoal ground and a series of orange and cream boxes connected by abstract double cream lines.
Bateman is very protective of his Rolex DateJust wristwatch. Anyone who’s seen Die Hard knows that ’80s businessmen took Rolexes very seriously (isn’t that right, Ellis?), and Bateman’s Rolex would have been the ultimate status symbol for him. His particular DateJust is in a 36mm two-tone “Rolesor” yellow gold and stainless steel case on a two-tone “Jubilee” bracelet.
Finally, Bateman dons a pair of black leather gloves when he heads into the Yale Club’s bathroom for his… confrontation with Luis Carruthers.
Go Big or Go Home
Not knowing much about him otherwise, Bateman’s monologue about Whitney Houston and his deep admiration for her music could lead one to assume he is quite a romantic person:
Bateman: Did you know that Whitney Houston’s debut LP, called simply Whitney Houston, had 4 number one singles on it? Did you know that, Christie?
Elizabeth: (laughing) You actually listen to Whitney Houston? You own a Whitney Houston CD? More than one?
Bateman: (ignoring her) It’s hard to choose a favorite among so many great tracks, but “The Greatest Love of All” is one of the best, most powerful songs ever written about self-preservation, dignity. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instills one with the hope that it’s not too late to better ourselves. Since, Elizabeth, it’s impossible in this world we live in to empathize with others, we can always empathize with ourselves. It’s an important message, crucial really. And it’s beautifully stated on the album.
All while “The Greatest Love of All” plays in the background, although it’s an instrumental version by the London Philharmonic Orchestra… Whitney likely didn’t want to be associated with the scene’s conclusion which leads to Bateman chasing down a hooker who kicked him in the face, screaming, “Not the fucking face, you piece of bitch trash!” before dropping a chainsaw onto her from several stories higher.
Alas, any woman who crosses Bateman’s path is typically doomed to either indifference or a far more grisly fate. The women in his social circle seem to be safe, including his (now ex) girlfriend Evelyn and his mistress, the constantly drugged Courtney Rawlinson. After a quick nooner at Courtney’s, she tries to bond with him through her haze of lithium.
Courtney: Listen Patrick, can we talk?
Bateman: You look… marvelous. There’s nothing to say.
Although the fact that he’s looking in the mirror as he says so implies that he’s talking to himself more than he’s talking to her. She wistfully asks, “Will you call me before Easter?” to which the aloof Bateman simply replies, “Maybe.”
His lack of romance also extends to his macabre sense of humor, which even his surface-level friends don’t find very amusing.
Bateman: Do you know what Ed Gein said about women?
Van Patten: Ed Gein? The maitre ‘d at Canal Bar?
Bateman: No, serial killer, Wisconsin, the ’50s.
McDermott: So what did he say?
Bateman: “When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things. One part wants me to take her out, talk to her, be real nice and sweet and treat her right.”
Van Patten: And what did the other part think?
Bateman: “What her head would look like on a stick… “
Bateman is the only one who gets much satisfaction from the joke, but his guffaws are enough for the whole group.
How to Get the Look
Bateman’s suit alone is clearly a relic of the ’80s “power suit” era, but when he spruces it up with a contrast collar shirt and striped braces, you know you’re in for a glorious yuppie adventure.
- Gray wool business suit, with:
- Single-breasted jacket with low-gorge notch lapels, low 2-button front, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless rear
- Double forward-pleated low rise trousers with belt loops, on-seam side pockets, and cuffed bottoms/turn-ups
- Light blue dress shirt with a white cutaway contrast collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Charcoal silk printed tie with orange-and-cream boxes connected by thin cream lines
- Silver round cuff links
- Navy and red striped suspenders with brown leather tabs and gold adjusters
- Black leather perforated cap-toe balmorals
- Black dress socks
- White Perry Ellis underwear briefs
- Black leather gloves
- Rolex DateJust in stainless 36mm case with two-tone yellow gold and stainless “Jubilee” bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Anyone have idea what wine Bateman drugs for Elizabeth and Christie?