Keep your eye on the pocket square.

By Darren Franich
Updated August 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
  • TV Show
  • NBC

Hannibal ends on Saturday night. It has been wild, crazy, strange, scary, romantic, Sopranos-esque, just plain great. We will miss it for many reasons. Maybe not the most important reason, or maybe the absolute most important reason: the world will no longer thrill to the far-flung excursions of Hannibal Lecter, Fashion Plate. As we await the show’s final act, we honor Hannibal’s fashion legacy — in chronological order from the pilot onwards. (A shout-out to Hannibal costume designer Christopher Hargadon, Hannibal’s three-piece man since day one.)

Eggshell tie on eggshell shirt, with matching eggshell pocket square. It’s a look that says: “I am a trustworthy medical professional.”

Your dad’s second-favorite tie paired with a brown blazer and a red pocket square. Nothing to be afraid of, Will Graham.

Sign of problems ahead: When alerting a local serial killer to the authorities’ impending arrival, Hannibal goes for a tie-optional sweater-blazer combo. (On this show, “Tie-Optional” means “Up To No Good.”)

Episode 2, and we’re past that initial, tentative, “It’s the pilot so let’s play it cool on the windowpane checked three-pieces” phase. Whether he’s rocking a lighter suit with a blood-red pocket square…

…or a darker suit with a bright-white pocket square, the Hannibal style has officially arrived.

Another first in episode 2: Hannibal and his sitcom sidekick Hannibal’s Vest. Karl Lagerfeld wishes he read a tablet like this.

“I’m here for you,” says Hannibal’s face. “I am Shiva the God of Death” says that tie matched with that jacket.

A study in contrasts: Jack Crawford, always in black and gray, often shot with straight-line geometric ties. His tie represents Law & Order. Whereas Hannibal’s tie represents Law & Order: SVU FanFic illustrated by Hieronymus Bosch.

Another study in contrast. Look at Hannibal’s overcoat (powerful, passionate, impeccable buttons) and Will’s everything. Concrete gray and puke magenta? Everything that follows between them will be a fashion intervention.

A closer look at that tie grants us an opportunity to Rorschach some deeper meaning therein. What do you see when you look at that necktie? Personally, I see a drop of meteorite sperm cried from the 15th eyeball of Cthulhu.

Sorry, Hannibal, is that a blue-black plaid blazer on top of a blue zip-neck sweater on top of a tie?

Sorry, wait, Hannibal, is that yellow-black plaid blazer on top a red zip-neck sweater on top of a different tie?

Having reinvented the zip-neck sweater into a crime-scene three-piece, Hannibal settles down with a tie that looks like a sonnet about a bloody water lily.

Up to no good in a tie-optional combo of that yellow-black blazer and a zipper-free sweater.

Letting his hair down and his vest breathe with Alana.

Like No. 1, but with more patterns this time, because the madness rises.

Thought bubble over this outfit. “Me? Cook humans? I’m just the humble manager of a successful brokerage concern!”

A gentlemen knows when to wear a suit, and when a set of demure black slacks will do just fine. Note how Hannibal is making the same expression as the pocket square.

Hannibal’s most and least subtle outfit: The devil-red shirt/square combo.

Before dinner time, a gentlemen only removes his jacket if he is planning to put on an apron.

Hannibal’s bathrobe is obviously an homage to Number Six in The Prisoner. Or maybe it’s a kimono? Hannibal’s kimono is obviously an homage to Number Six in The Prisoner.

Dinner with friends, back to plaid.

Red patterned tie on a red shirt, symbolizing the nefarious allure of the forbidden.

Red patterned tie on white shirt. Symbolizing the battle between good and evil.

Stare into that tie long enough, and it becomes the “Night on Bald Mountain” scene from Fantasia.

The tale of the lonely yellow pocket square, cast adrift upon the Great Sea of plaid teal.

Return of the Yellow Pocket Square.

Never has a paisley tie looked more like a slumbering mystical serpent of lore.

In episode 6, we meet Frederick Chilton, eternal pretender to the throne. Chilton doltishly pairs an ill-patterned tie with a licorice-candy-cane shirt and a tan blazer. Obviously, this means war. And when Hannibal goes to war…

…he reveals his full power with a casual unbuttoning. GAZE UPON YOUR PAISLEY DOOM, FREDERICK CHILTON.

In the present, Hannibal and his paisley pet listen patiently to Jack Crawford describe his long-lost student, Miriam Lass.

In the past, Hannibal and the tie he carved out of your mother’s garden prepare to give Miriam Lass the long-lost treatment.

Midway through the first season, Hannibal decides to stop fooling around. Thus, tux.

Thus, purple.

Thus, scarf.

Thus, vest on salmon.

Thus, vest plus rolled-up sleeves.

Thus, a rare moment of de-vested glory. Because sometimes it is merely enough to let your tie breathe. In Hannibal’s world, skinny ties were never invented. Nor digital watches. Nor whatever we wear now instead of pocket squares.

Addendum to the rule about jackets before dinner: It is barely acceptable to remove it if you are rescuing someone from an organ-fetishist EMT serial killer.

Clean white shirt = Normcore Lector.

Black tie over an apron = Food Network Lector.

When hosting a dinner party filled with annoying people eating other annoying people, sometimes a subtle tie is the best tie.

Fun fact: The last ten outfits? All from the same episode.

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NEXT: More pretenders arrive[pagebreak]

Some people want to be Hannibal. Not Franklyn.

Franklyn just wants to be Hannibal’s pal, the Jimmy Olsen to Hannibal’s Clark Kent. He tries! See Franklyn with a madcap spackle-tie sweater combo…

Or Franklyn, wearing what amounts to the Safeway Select Cola version of Hannibal’s closet.

Unimpressed. Plaid.

But Franklyn’s pal Tobias, who has a keen sense of the blending of charcoal gray with charcoal tie?

Impressed. Like, overcoat impressed.

So impressed that Tobias earns a dinner invite.

Another day, another pocket square. Boring, boring, boring…

…until Tobias shows up, covered in blood and gore and looking like a maniac but wait a second DOES THAT VEST HAVE LAPELS?

A vest with lapels. The only appropriate punishment: Death by skull-bludgeon. Now, many people have noted the symbolism of Hannibal’s chosen instrument of bludgeoning: The stag sculpture. But take a closer look. Do you see what Hannibal wraps around that stag sculpture?

Oh yeah.

Pocket square: Out.

Orange: In!

Goodbye, orange! Hello, muted palette!

Goodbye, muted palette! Hello, Mother’s Garden Necktie, making its first non-flashback appearance in glorious rose-red color!

Evidence that Hannibal is a good influence on those around him: Alana begins to wear dresses made out of the bad dreams of Hannibal’s ties.

Counter-evidence: Will Graham, human incarnation of cargo pants.

With the suspicion off Hannibal, he de-mutes himself. Dig the goldenrod gradations manifesting across this necktie-shirt-square combo. “Goldenrod gradations” are both words, right?

Why so sad, Auburnscale Hannibal?

Could it be because your best pal is suddenly wearing a black vest over a henley?

F’real, though, this is every conversation between Will and Hannibal toward the end of season 1:


Another day, another pretender to Hannibal’s fashion throne. Meet Dr. Sutcliffe, potentially serious threat in the Medical-Professional-Will-Loves-most sweepstakes

Aesthetic: Light antiseptic tones, the angel versus Hannibal’s dark-hued demon.

Weapon of choice: A tie clip.

Sensing a threat, Hannibal invites Dr. Sutcliffe over for dinner. Sutcliffe stumbles out the gate with a black suit. Embarrassing.

All alone in the suit your uncle wore in the ‘70s, Hannibal ponders his options…

…and decides to end Dr. Sutcliffe, leading to the first sighting of the Plastic Suit of Death, which is really just an example of Hannibal’s fashion-forward aesthetic. Technically, this is a four-piece suit. (note that he is still wearing his watch and the Mother’s Garden necktie.)

A new tie, so colorful.

But that blue pocket square? Starting to feel a little last week. And so now is the time for the dawn of a new age…



The blue period.

Back to plaid.


Will’s gone mad. Time to go full Merlot.

The scene where Will finally, finally figures out that Hannibal Lecter is maybe not the most trustworthy psychiatrist in Baltimore. Notice anything missing? Like, say…a tie? “Not wearing a tie” is Hannibal’s Heisenberg Hat.

A moment of triumphal plaid demands the Mother’s Garden tie.

Season one ends with a blue shirt, a brown plaid vest, and an overcoat.

NEXT: The neckwear gets more elaborate.[pagebreak]

Season two begins with a flashforward to apocalyptic calamity: Hamlet’s shirt, creased.

Eat your heart out, Chuck Bass.

Blue and yellow. Difficult to pull off. Not impossible, obvs.

A new tie, featuring spotted outlines of playful whales.

Whoever he’s eating, they couldn’t wear paisley.

Bold fashion choice of the season: Hannibal begins accentuating his pocket square with a Visitor’s Badge.

(Fun fact: Everyone in these pictures who isn’t Hannibal Lecter will probably get attacked by Hannibal Lecter, eventually.)

This is the point in Hannibal when the show begins to gleefully push the notion that Will and Graham are mirror images of each other/are becoming each other. See: A montage of two men preparing their neckties.

And now, a window into the mind of Will Graham:


It’s a look that says: I just purchased the golf course from Caddyshack and now I’m only going to use it for Eyes Wide Shut orgies.

The best-dressed man at every crime scene.

The single most offensively beautiful tie anyone has ever worn.

I know, pretty boring look for a testimony, right? Well…


Also note the new polka-dot pocket square.

Jack Crawford’s badge < polka-dot pocket square.

Further adventures in fashion: pairing the Visitor’s badge with blue latex glove.

Return of the pretender: Chilton’s back, now with a snazzy new cane.

Requiring heavy artillery, Hannibal brings the red pocket square with yellow trim out of his carbonite container.

Surprised by an early caller, Hannibal casually dons a morning sweater.

You’ve seen the tie. You’ve seen the jacket. Now see them with carefully placed symbolic horns!

Wearing a suit made out of Jack Nicklaus’ golf pants, Hannibal catches up on Mr. Robot.

If you think about it, a noose is kind of like a necktie. (PS: Sweet trunks, bro.)

Having barely survived his ordeal with the Hangman, Hannibal briefly allows himself to wear something a typical human male might wear in the 21st century.


Chilton cannot handle the Ascot.

Meanwhile, behind Chilton’s left shoulder: Witness the two most overdressed background extras this side of a Baz Lurhmann champagne commercial. I’d watch an entire spinoff about those guys. Let’s call them “Emerald Jacket and Checkerboard Jones.”

Hannibal takes off his tie for a late-night piano session with Alana. His intentions must be pure, right?

McDreamy. McSteamy. McHungry.

Remember that morning sweater? Thrill to the paired pajama bottoms. (PS: Horns!)

When eating a dinner guest — while he’s still alive, sitting at your table, eating himself – we recommend gray plaid.

Blue over plaid is ideal for lying straight to your brainwashed former captive’s face…

…but four out of five psychopathic doctors recommend pairing the blue-over-plaid combo with a plastic murdersuit.

This is what happens when Hannibal Lecter gives you a makeover. Lesson learned: Dr. Lecter doesn’t like tie clips.

Hannibal Lecter: The single greatest advertisement for the zipper-sweater/tie combo

Free from imprisonment, Will finally starts dressing like a grown-up…

…and Hannibal couldn’t be prouder, nor plaider.

It’s all a scam, of course. Will’s long con to ensnare Hannibal is expressed, via clothing, with his inability to truly divest himself of his gray-brown prairie grandmother look.

Hannibal is unamused. His black polka-dotted pocket square belies his melancholy.

In a dream sequence, Will gives Hannibal another noose-tie. Hannibal makes it work.

A new tie, modeled after the Turkish rug they buried Hoffa in.

The show’s deepest layers expressed via fashion. See Will Graham, torn between two extremes. Will he choose the earthy embrace of Jack Crawford’s goodness, his brown overcoat, his simple-geometric-forms tie? Or will he choose Hannibal, cast here in darker shades with a red scarf-and-tie combo?

Possible cause for concern: That subtle burst of red from Will’s shirt, gravitationally pulling him toward Hannibal’s side of the frame.

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NEXT: Nemesis arrives.[pagebreak]

Meanwhile, the show introduces Hannibal’s most profound fashion nemesis:

Mason Verger, shown here dressed as a society matron on the way to a Sum-41 concert.

Hannibal understands the seriousness of Mason’s threat. He goes to the Verger estate, wearing dapper leather gloves. But Mason anticipates the fashion attack, wearing a pair of his own.

A new painting: Ponderance in Maroon. I think that tie has a watermelon on it.

Pairing a tan vest with a plaid jacket. A clear sign of frayed nerves.

With Hannibal on the ropes, Mason launches a more devastating attack, arriving at his first therapy session wearing Tom Wolfe.

Reeling, Hannibal goes orange-on-orange.

Surprised late at night, Hannibal has nothing to defend himself with, besides his vest and his loose strand of Petrelli hair.

Mason loans him a jacket. Hannibal makes it work.

Mason loans him a pig’s head. Hannibal makes it work.

The season 2 endgame approaches. Another new tie.

A nice clean shirt to prepare dinner. Spoiler alert: Won’t stay clean.

Doin’ laundry.

Season 3 beckons. New life, new tie.

NEXT: La Dolce Vita[pagebreak]

Going Full Brando with a leather jacket. Totally not interested in that dude’s scarf game, either.