Written by Bertie Bowen


Dressing like… Absolutely Fabulous

Fashion stylist Bertie Bowen channels the clothes and spirit of a fictional character. This week she’s taking on not one, but two outrageous style icons. Are you an Eddy or a Patsy?

Edina and Patsy

Are you an Edina or a Patsy? All photos: BBC.

The 1990s classic Absolutely Fabulous is back this summer with a feature-length film. In anticipation, I’ve been warming my cold, dark evenings with episodes from the original series, living vicariously through the best friends’ debauched adventures, binging on the box set, getting high on the PR parties and OD-ing on the outrageous style.

Though they have lots in common – fags, booze, making egocentric spectacles of themselves – sartorially speaking, Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone are from different tribes. Style-wise, which fashionista are you? Let’s start as each episode often does, with the scene of destruction the morning after the night before.

dressing absolutely fabulous2The AM/PM routine

The alarm wakes Eddy aggressively every morning, sometimes from a nightmare, nearly always with a hangover, yet she has usually managed to get some sort of sleep attire on before she has crawled into bed: a T-shirt with an inappropriate image or slogan on it or silk PJs and an eye mask. She then likes to flap dramatically down to the kitchen in an ornate dressing gown or kimono.

Patsy, on the other hand, either arrives at Eddy’s fully done up or is jolted from unconsciousness having passed out in her clothes, her hair standing on end and her eyes wildly glazed like a zombie waking from the dead.

Do you religiously remove your makeup and own countless items of sleepwear? You’re an Edina.

Do you often collapse into bed without removing your shoes or the bottle of wine from your hand and spend the first few moments upon waking trying to work out where and who you are? Hello Patsy.

PatsyHat vs Hair

Edina likes hats. She must have to dedicate half her walk-in wardrobe to her accessories collection because she wears several hats or headscarves per episode. Hats are a surefire way to get yourself noticed – and Eddy most certainly wants to be the centre of attention. Not only are her clothes loud (more on that later), but her headwear screams, “Look at ME!”

Patsy is not much different, except she grabs attention with the impressive height of her barnet. Her exaggerated beehive is as much part of her look as the fag dangling out of her lipstick-smeared mouth. First impressions are important: when you sashay into a crowded room do you prefer your hair or your hat to do the talking?

dressing absolutely fabulous4Colour

These two women have opposite approaches to colour in their wardrobe. Patsy likes neutral tones: black, white, khaki and occasionally soft pastels. Eddy doesn’t seem to have a formula or stop button when it comes to piling on the colour. It is always bright and there are usually at least five different shades on her person at any given time. Again, she’s playing up her attention-seeking attitude, standing out from the crowd in the gaudiest rainbow brights imaginable.

Trendy vs Classic

Eddy-absolutely-fabulous-1626142-336-500Patsy has a ‘uniform’ when it comes to her sartorial choices, generally opting for classic suits, pencil skirts, wide leg pants, Chanel jackets, tailoring and silk blouses; all expensive, all class. Now and again she’ll throw in a bit of animal print. This consistent, unwavering identity makes her easy to spot at a party.

Eddy, meanwhile, embraces the latest fad, the next big thing, all the newest trends possible and often all at once. She is brave and experimental with her outfits and frequently looks like she’s going to a fancy dress party and is hard to miss.

Which type of party animal are you? A distinguished and deadly Patsy-fox or loud and lurid Edina-peacock?

I’m very much looking forward to see what the desperate duo get up to in Ab Fab: The Movie. More to the point, I cannot WAIT to see what they wear. Whatever the clobber, I’m sure it’ll be “FABULOUS, SWEETIE!”


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Written by Bertie Bowen

Stylist, writer and mother living in East London. A clompy shoed, curly haired, Radio 4 enthusiast. www.mothershoppers.com