Frasier and Niles are obviously the heart of the show, and their pretentious lives—seasoning crêpe pans, attending the opera, or bickering over the wine club presidency—set the aesthetic tone. “It was interesting to see these two pompous brothers on TV making highbrow wisecracks when that kind of thing was such a rarity on TV,” says Frasier fan and menswear writer Ben Kriz, who recently relaunched his Frasier Fits Instagram.
But the clothes aren’t just props. In Frasier, they told the story. Differences in the brother’s tailoring aren’t the only contrasts: Their father, Martin, a retired cop, is often mocked by his children for his baseball jackets, plaid shirts and La-Z-Boy recliner—pure sacrilege to the Crane brothers. Similarly, when Niles tries to embrace a freer lifestyle and transition to “Island Niles,” it’s shown through his clothes—out go the suits and in come the Hawaiian shirts, a goatee, and a commitment to being underwear-free.
Still, it’s the suits and ties that people remember. “The Crane brothers’ default mode is the suit,” says Kriz. “They can look uncomfortable in anything else. In the first season, Frasier is wearing things that wouldn’t look out of place in a Drake’s lookbook—I mean that in the best way possible. There are colorful striped dress shirts paired with playful deco and paisley ties, along with sweater vests. In later seasons, he gets a little more chic with tonal pairings.”
The aesthetic approach of the show’s lead character was a deliberate choice, and it extends far beyond the clothes. There is the meticulously decorated apartment—the Rauschenberg print, the sofa modeled on one from Coco Chanel’s atelier. There is the daily sherry and there are the fine dinners (who can forget Frasier’s beloved Chez Henri?). David Lee, the series’s co-creator, explained those decisions in that Los Angeles Times piece: “We decided that Frasier would know what an Eames chair is and what a Wassily chair is, and our thought was that he’d also know who Giorgio Armani is.”