What he wears, what he doesn’t, and what it means for people writing him.
Very early on in this fandom the trope of Arthur always wearing suits dug in its claws and hasn’t let go since. It’s entirely possible that this happened by accident; he’s a snappy dresser for sure, and after only one viewing of the movie (during which there’s plenty else to be paying attention to as well!) it’s easy to see how the idea of him as a suit man could stick. It’s also entirely incorrect, and has had such an impact on the way he is characterised by a great deal of the fandom that in many fics he is almost completely unrecognisable as the Arthur we see in the movie. This essay will consist of two parts:
13 Outfits in 148 Minutes: A Pictorial Presentation
A close-up look at every single outfit Arthur wears in the film.
A discussion on Arthur’s fashion choices, what they tell us about him, and how they contradict fanon liek woah.
13 Outfits in 148 Minutes: A Pictorial Presentation
Tux and bowtie. Very formal. Given that the context of this scene is a formal dinner, this makes a lot of sense but doesn’t necessarily tell us a lot about his personal dress sense.
The first of two three-piece suits we see him wearing in the movie.
The jacket is unbuttoned though, which gives it a somewhat more casual look. We don’t know the context of how Arthur and Cobb convinced Saito to let them in here, but it’s possible that this was about looking the part for the job, and idea supported by the fact that in the next scene, in reality…
He’s no longer wearing the vest, only the jacket and tie. He’s clearly working here, and looks professional, but no more so than anybody else in business. Possibly even less formally dressed than some business people would be.
This outfit is particularly telling. It’s the first time we see Arthur on his own time, and he’s wearing a collared shirt, yes. But no tie, several buttons undone, and no jacket.
He’s wearing a coat, but it’s a relaxed brown number that by no means screams sharp suit-porn motherfucker.
This is 4.A without the coat. His sleeves are rolled up which, as you will soon see, is a definite trend. It’s very relaxed and casual while still being smart and attractive. Also, he’s eating the fuck out of that salad.
This kind of ensemble seems to be his favourite. Shirt, vest, and tie. Note the rolled-up sleeves again, he’s ready to get busay.
Similar to the previous outfit, but with the lovely sweater vest. Sleeves are pushed up here.
Top button is undone and his tie is slightly loosened.
This is 6.A Mark II, modified for the dreamscape with the addition of the jacket. It remains unbuttoned, casual.
Interestingly his tie and top button are both done up properly in the dreamscape.
This one is similar to 4, but he’s wearing a tie (sloppily) now. Sleeves are rolled up yet again. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
This is 7.A with the addition of the same coat he was wearing with 4. Once again we see that while Arthur’s tie was loose and unbuttoned IRL, it is done up neatly in this dreamscape (they’re mucking about in the hotel level here).
His tie is done up properly here I think, although his top button could still be undone… anyone with better eyes or caps have any thoughts? Anyway, this is sharp, but still not an overly formal ensemble. No vest in sight.
Outfit 8 without the jacket. SURPRISE SUR-FUCKING-PRISE, his sleeves are rolled up casually as he’s pottering about the warehouse.
Shirt, tie, and vest. His sleeves are down though, and once again the caps are a bit too dark to get a look at his tie/top button. He’s only wearing this briefly, in the scenes of Yusuf testing the kicks through the compound.
Looking pretty fine here. Tie is done up, and although we can’t see if he’s wearing a jacket to go with that vest I think the precedent (and the first cap, look closely at the slight gape of the coat on the right side) suggests that he wouldn’t be. Once again we see his fave brown coat and his
He might be wearing a three-piece suit here as well. He’s got a noticeable lack of colour in this one, and it could probably be assumed that he’s dressing particularly sharp here because they’re travelling first class and that’s only for classy motherfuckers. This is also what we see him wearing at the end of the movie when they arrive in L.A.
Leather jacket, shirt, and undershirt. This is probably the most obviously casual thing we see him wear in the film. As mentioned previously it probably has a bit less weight in terms of looking at his personal fashion choices as they’re in the dreamscape and he’s playing a role.
Here, have one of him carrying that sexy gun too. BAMF.
Oh, the infamous hotel level outfit. XD This is probably where a lot of the fanon originated. It’s a really memorable scene, obviously, and likely stuck with a lot of people particularly after a first viewing. That, and he really does look rather fine. Three-piece, cufflinks, the whole shebang. Pwrrrrrrrawwwr.
Then he gets some kit off and, finally, we have…
The above without the jacket. A vest, and a tie that is done up properly (following the previously set trend of him always having it done neatly in the dreamscape). The scene is thus set for one of the greatest fight scenes ever, and for Arthur to walk into fandom as a three-piece suit wearing BAMF, however inaccurate this assumption might be.
The Point Man’s Wardrobe: BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
This paints a very different picture to the proper, uptight attitude he is so often depicted with in fanfic. From what he does wear, we can infer that he is an attractive dresser capable of sharp professionalism when necessary, but this by no means defines him as a person (ie. his attitude does not revolve around keeping his tie straight and brushing dust off his cuffs). Contrary to the fanon that extrapolates a proper, uptight personality from his perceived suit obsession, it seems likely that Arthur would be just as at home having a casual drink at a pub with his sleeves rolled up and tie undone as he would be in a posh restaurant or business meeting.
Look at this slob. God damn it Arthur, do up your top button and stop swinging on your chair.
Of the thirteen outfits Arthur wears, only twice is he seen in the three-piece suits fandom depicts him with such a crush on. He’s wearing one for his longest and most memorable scene, and he’s always well-dressed, but his wardrobe choices suggest that strict fastidiousness and suits are by no means the norm. He’s not even wearing a jacket most of the time and can probably be said to have more of a thing for vests than anything else (and even then his top button is often undone with the sleeves rolled up).
So think about it next time you go to write about Arthur’s wardrobe full of three-piece suits or his obsession with neatness. Suit-porn definitely has its place in this fandom, but it’s easy to go way too far, especially where Arthur is concerned.