How do Fred’s looks compare Ricky’s?
Otte: Fred is definitely a more “classic” dresser. His style is a little more 1940s than 1950s. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have fun with his outfits, especially with his ties and apparent love of pattern mixing. While he may have seemed old-fashioned to audiences in the early ’50s, I think he’s fared much better style-wise than Ricky.
Kirkland: Back then, everyone wore things relatively the same. Men wore suits and there’s a bit more of an unspoken and assumed uniform. The big difference was most men would dress according to their shape, and the best example is Fred v Ricky. Ricky had very big extended shoulders in his suiting to make his head look smaller. This was something Cary Grant was doing too. Fred wore higher waisted trousers (higher than the standard) to make him look taller. People dressed a bit more geometrically sound in that time.
Wong: Despite being old school, [Fred’s] look is actually the most classic and could be worn today! It’s funny because Ricky is definitely meant to look more modern and youthful, exuded by his giant shoulder pads, closed/squared quarters, and fat knot ties. Ricky ends up looking pretty dated and very costume-y.
What would Fred Mertz’s Instagram account be like?
Wertheim: If he wants followers, I hope he’s posting that beret and sunglasses fit every single day. But I think we all know it’s more likely to be pixelated jpegs of The Lockhorns and blurry, badly lit shots of food.
Anderson: I don’t think Fred would use stories much, or take selfies. I would expect his photos to be mostly Ethel-shot images of himself. She could write captions just roasting him. While I might expect him to be proud of his fits, I don’t think he’d tag brands—although maybe, in order to get free stuff?
Guy: I feel like the easy answer is all the classic menswear stuff that some guys put on their IG today, but many of Fred’s looks were also clearly influenced by the culture of his day. His zoot-suit-esque tailoring presumably was influenced by jazz musicians; his casual-wear was influenced by vacation-wear, American tiki culture, surf culture, golf, and other mid-century obsessions. So perhaps he would be as equally “modern” today, but with an eye towards semi-classic dress. I’d like to think that his IG wouldn’t necessarily be about clothes, but just cultural things happening at the time—music, movies, leisure spots, etc.
The big one: should Fred Mertz be considered a menswear icon?
Guy: Yes! His tailoring is great and he showed he was willing to have fun with things.
Kirkland: On being a menswear icon? I imagine the gentlemanly Mertz would playfully deny it all and say something along the lines of, “I’m just being myself and loving life, now watch me tap dance.”
Otte: Maybe he’s not an icon, but he’s clearly a guy that sticks with what he likes and doesn’t worry too much about trends. I think there’s something to admire in that commitment to personal style.
Wong: I’m not sure if menswear icon is the right word, but I definitely think guys should look at him more! I think most guys out there get caught up with Fred Astaire and Cary Grant, but there’s also something to gleam from less famous dressers. There’s much more ease and slouch to be found here, without sacrificing a good silhouette or classic pairings. More guys should be able to fist their pockets, wear high waisted pants, and berets without being prim and proper. Sometimes it’s good to just wear great clothing and deal with your wacky tenant’s shenanigans.
Wertheim: When I think about the most celebrated menswear icons in my particular area of expertise, Ivy style, I think of Miles Davis, Steve McQueen, Anthony Perkins, Sidney Poitier, etc. These are men who wore their clothes with a carefree, “set it and forget it” attitude. Fred has that in droves. However, all these Ivy icons—and, I think, icons of any style—have an edge and a flair to their choices, like Robert Redford’s jewelry and boots, or Gianni Agnelli’s watch worn over the shirt cuff. That’s where Fred suffers. The looks I liked best were the ones that went beyond well-fitting clothes and into the realm of conscious choices, even silly ones like the beret. There just weren’t enough of those choices to convince me that Fred is doing more than rolling into a suit in the morning and hoping everything goes together. So—and Fred, believe me, I am so, so sorry—I just can’t say that Fred rises to the icon level. But that doesn’t mean I’m not about to go rewatch all of I Love Lucy.
Anderson: Fred seems to own his looks pretty well, and even enjoy nice clothes, so those are points in his favor. I’m all for having more “non-traditional” style icons—guys who wear interesting clothes well and aren’t merely handsome and fit and wearing clothes. Maybe this can kick off the Fraw-naissance.