In honour of London Fashion Week, and in reverence of those who can navigate the intricacies of the fashion world with ease and aplomb, I present you with a snippet of conversation from one of literature’s most fashion-conscious men: Patrick Bateman.
“Gentlemen.” I cough. “Ahem. I hate to interrupt, but …”
“Okay, okay, go on,” McDermott says. “Tell us more about Charles Moyer.”
“Bruce Boyer,” I correct him. “He was the author of Elegance: A Guide to Quality in Menswear.” Then as an aside, “And no Craig, he wasn’t a serial killer in his spare time.”
“What did Brucie baby have to say?” McDermott asks, chewing on ice.
“You’re a clod. It’s an excellent book. His theory remains we shouldn’t feel restricted from wearing a sweater vest with a suit,” I say. “Did you hear me call you a clod?”
“But doesn’t he point out that a vest shouldn’t overpower the suit?” Van Patten offers tentatively.
“Yes…” I’m mildly irritated that Van Patten has done his homework but asks for advice nonetheless. I calmly continue. “With discreet pinstripes you should wear a subdued blue or charcoal gray vest. A plaid suit would call for a bolder vest.”
“And remember,” McDermott adds, “with a regular vest the last button should be left undone.”
I glance sharply at McDermott. He smiles, sips his drink and then smacks his lips, satisfied.
“Why?” Van Patten wants to know.
“It’s traditional,” I say, still glaring at McDermott. “But it’s also more comfortable.”
“Will wearing suspenders help the vest sit better?” I hear Van Patten ask.
“Why?” I ask, turning to face him.
“Well, since you avoid the…” He stops, stuck, looking for the right word.
“Encumbrance of -?” I begin.
“The belt buckle?” McDermott finishes.
“Sure,” Van Patten says.
“You have to remember -” Again I’m interrupted by McDermott.
“Remember that while the vest should be in keeping with the colour and the style of the suit, completely avoid matching the vest’s pattern with your socks or tie,” McDermott says smiling at me, at Van Patten.
“I thought you hadn’t read this…this book” I stammer angrily. “You just told me you couldn’t tell the difference between Bruce Boyer and…and John Wayne Gacy.”
“It came back to me.” He shrugs.
“Listen.” I turn back to Van Patten, finding McDermott’s one-upmanship totally cheap. “Wearing argyle socks with an argyle vest will look too studied.”
“You think so?” he asks.
>American Psycho, 1991, Bret Easton Ellis