The One With All The Styles: How Friends' Fashion Withstood Time

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Ralph Lauren once said, “I have always loved things that are timeless and get better with age.” While Rachel Greene’s boss (yes, I believe she’s worked her way up the Ralph Lauren ladder after getting off the plane) was referring to style and fashion with his quote, he could have just as easily have been referring to the sitcom Friends. From the witty one-liners to the classic clothing, Friends is a sitcom that ages like a fine wine—the more times I watch it, the better it gets.

17 years ago, NBC aired the series finale of Friends. But thanks to reruns and the newly launched service HBO Max, which is now home to every season of the beloved sitcom, viewers born after the show left primetime can meet the six characters that are everyone’s #friendsgoals. And the OG fans (me) can now easily re-watch the series from start-to-finish  as many times as they want (me again). There’s even a highly anticipated Friends reunion now slated to tape in March 2021. In honor of that welcomed news, I took a look back at some of my favorite fashion moments from the series -- and it struck me how they are just as stylish today as they were over 20 years ago.

Rachel Greene: The Fashion Guru

In terms of style, Rachel’s hair is probably the most memorable thing to come out of Friends—who didn’t take an inspiration photo of Jennifer Aniston to their hairdresser at some point over the last few decades?

Hair aside, Rachel Greene was the fashion guru of the group. Not only did she dress to impress, once she retired from waitressing and started her career at Bloomingdale’s followed by Ralph Lauren, many of the friends also turned to her for fashion advice (who can forget when Joey needed to dress for an audition and found himself the proud owner of murse?!)  

Rachel had so many solid looks, it was difficult to pick my favorite. But for me, the most noteworthy outfit was that plaid skirt and cream sweater she wore while monkey-sitting; you remember that time Marcel went poo in the shoe!

This plaid skirt from Aritzia paired with a cream sweater from Reformation gives off serious Rachel vibes. Pair that with classic platform Whitney 90s Weejuns from G.H. Bass, drop earrings from Bloomingdale’s (I couldn’t resist the nod to Rachel’s former employer), and these tube socks from Bombas, the mission-based company that donates a pair of socks for every pair purchased, and you’ve nearly completed the look.

Just finish it off with Rachel’s purposefully messy ponytail (yes, we are back to the hair) and you’re ready for an afternoon at the coffee house.

Monica Geller: The Casual Chef

Monica’s minimalist clothing choices emit a cool, casual, and calm vibe; ironic considering Monica is known for her type A, controlling-yet-loving personality. I’m particularly partial to her boyfriend style jeans and oversized button-down tops. I’d bet Monica has at least one pair of Levi’s in her closet, a timeless classic.

If Levi’s aren’t your thing, or you want to try something new, I’m a huge fan of The Tommy style boyfriend jean from Boyish. Founded in 2018, the Los-Angeles based company designs sustainable women’s denim; each piece is made with sustainable fabrics and manufactured through an environmentally friendly and cruelty-free process to protect our environment.

Everyone’s favorite chef tends to top her outfits off with an oversized button-down like this plaid one from American Eagle. You can also pull off the classic Monica aesthetic with a chambray looking button up top for a denim on denim look. I love this light blue tomboy style shirt from Sezane, perfect to tie up in the front or do a simple front tuck.

Finally, what’s an outfit without the right with the right pair of shoes? Our new Vice President, Kamala Harris, would approve of Monica’s footwear choice; they both awesomely rock the Converse!

Phoebe Buffay: The Playful Pal

Phoebe Buffay is the whimsical one in the group, her dynamic and colorful outfits fitting her playful personality traits to a tee. We can all take a page out of Phoebe’s confidence book; the self-proclaimed musician marches to the beat of her own drum and helps the other friends (cough, cough Rachel and Monica) loosen up a bit.

Phoebe’s look is best described as boho chic. My favorite of that style is her blue floral-flowy skirt and chambray shirt ensemble. This midi skirt from Faithfull The Brand (and almost all of their collection) and this polka dot skirt from Boden give off the same Phoebe feel with a modern touch. Chambray button down shirts are pretty much a wardrobe staple these days, and this ruffled denim shirt from & Other Stories provides a femine and contemporary touch to Phoebe’s chic style. Phoebe layers the denim shirt over a simple white tee. This one from AYR, an NYC-based company that stands for All Year Round because it creates seasonless essentials, rounds out this outfit—perfect for a spring stroll in Central Park.

While I picked this outfit, I’d be remiss to do a Phoebe round-up without mentioning the infamous orange faux fur coat she wore while discovering the relationship between Monica and Chandler.

This coat from Saks Potts (and really any of the coats from Saks Potts) is the perfect look-a-like..

Ross Geller: The Polished Professor

Doctor Ross Geller was always more interested in fossils than fashion; he was always professionally dressed, ready for work at the museum or as a college professor.

Despite his quintessential professorial vibe, Ross did have one particular look that stands out to this day. Dr. Geller rocked a subtle tie-dye sweater that I can’t get enough of (and was hip enough for Rachel’s assistant Tag to wear as well).

Who can forget the red sweater—the one that spilled the secret Ross and Rachel were having a baby? That red sweater, which looks like reverse tie-dye to me, is a piece someone would wear during quarantine and can be found on Etsy; a hoody version of the red sweater found at Nordstrom. For something even simpler, go with this basic burgundy sweater from Everlane, one of my favorite direct-to-consumer brands known for designing pieces to last for years.

Pair the sweater or sweatshirt version of the ‘red sweater’ with a pair of Olive chinos from Bonobos and a pair of black loafers from Wolf and Shepard and you too will be ready to take your place in the front of an NYU classroom.

Chandler Bing: The Trendy Transponster (AKA Statistical Analysis and Data Reconfiguration)

A legit Friend’s fanatic like myself knows Chandler was big on the sweater vests. I would argue that was his signature style. One of my favorite looks came from one of my favorite episodes—the one when the group finds out Chandler and Monica are in love (“they don’t know we know they know we know”)!

Chandler’s monochromatic attire would fit in at any office today and screams nine to five. This vest from Farfetch is a contemporary version with a more fitted silhouette than Chandler wears but gives off the same feel.  And where would a business professional turn to for Khakis in 2021? J.Crew or Brooks Brothers is a pretty sure thing with reasonably priced chinos. And this button-down from Tie Bar completes the outfit. While it’s not the sexiest look, let’s be honest—Chandler wasn’t supposed to be the sexiest character. But he sure was funny!  

Joey Tribbiani: The Sexy Single

Unlike Chandler, who was more guy next door, Joey was the sexy single on the show; the aspiring actor all the girls wanted to date. But even more than his love for women may have been his love for The Knicks—made apparent in a lot of his clothing choices. I’m partial to tie-dye and think this vintage-looking Knicks shirt from Junk Food is a cool, modern take on Joey’s go-to look. If you’re going for a more subtle vibe, here’s another vintage feeling Knicks sweatshirt from Vintage Brand. Add a pair of straight-legged jeans from Ralph Lauren (did Rachel sell him the pants?!) and you’re ready for moving day.

For a dressier date night look, Joey was the king of leather jackets. This blazer from All Saints or jacket from Zara is exactly what you need for a Saturday night on the town; just make sure it’s not a night out with the same girl your friend is dating!

The Styles That Will Always Be There For You

As I watch reruns, I find myself looking at their outfits thinking that I have a lot of those looks in my closet. That makes sense considering Friends costume designer Deborah  McGuire’s goal to create looks that held up over time as opposed to ones that felt trendy.

With ten seasons that span over two decades, there are plenty of looks, both casual and dressy, to choose from. Since there is something for everyone, the only question that remains is whose style do you gravitate towards? If you asked me last year, I would unequivocally say Rachel. But now, after a year at home, I’m confident my quarantine look falls more in line with the casual clothes Monica brings to the table--I just have to replace the jeans with joggers!

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