With the Reunion finally here, writer Suhani Lotlikar looks back at some of the show’s iconic fashion moments.
During the month of May when the long-awaited F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion was announced, it brought along with it a feeling of revival. The decade-long sitcom has not only given us unlimited laughs and unforgettable catch-phrases, but also iconic moments of fashion. As a huge fan of the show and a fashion enthusiast, I took this opportunity and turned it into an official binge-watching session to look back at the costume design and styling of our favorite F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Costume is a very broad part in the making of a television character. During the days of mute television, the visual-dominant motion picture was heavily dependent on the look of the character. The costume design of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.- a sitcom that showcased the life and friendship of six main characters – was carefully executed, too. On the 25th anniversary of the debut of the show, costume designer Debra McGuire shared that her idea was to bring her painter’s vision into a six-dimensional form with the six characters. Her process of helping build each of their wardrobes involved preparing color palettes based on their individual stories blended with the New York’s ‘90s fashion scene. So, as I watch another one of the episodes for the hundredth time – here are some fashion moments that are celebrated even today.
With a love for neutrals and fitted silhouettes, Monica’s wardrobe was the one I could relate to the most. To tell the truth, every look worn by her that entered or exited the famous purple door marked in time the character’s moments of growing up. Her petite figure and sculpted arms were often appreciated with sleeveless tops and dresses. The cowl-neck red dress on Monica from Ross’s second wedding has become a classic investment piece that is loved by many as a date night outfit.
As the show and its characters grew over time, there were many visible changes in the fits made to adapt the off-camera lives of the characters too. Chandler’s journey from ‘types in numbers for a living’ to ‘I am going to be a dad’ was seen in a variety of denims. His early vintage shirts and tweed jackets evolved into fleece sweaters and long-sleeved t-shirts as his character developed in the series. The costume designer has noted that initially his wardrobe was entirely thrifted but it went on to become off-the-rack due to time constraints that could not accommodate multiple fitting sessions.
My personal favourite are the bra-less moments of Rachel Green topped with the cutest crops. We have seen her transition from ‘daddy’s little girl’ in a cow printed coat with a ring on her finger to ‘an independent and experimental executive’ in an off-shoulder shirt accessorized with a neck-tie. She has not only been known for her fashion but also haircuts that are stated as goals by many.
Speaking of iconic hair moments, how can Phoebe’s breathtaking hairstyles be overlooked? With her habit of chewing on her hair, the kookiness of the hairstyles adorned with colorful accessories brought a childish joy and simplicity to the set. Her style was a quirky take on ‘90s fashion with a lot of experimental print on print. The sheer tops and floral prints were a balanced blend of bohemian and modern aesthetic. The many layers of her character were portrayed through textured and distinct pieces of clothing and stacked jewellery. In an era of videos in which people talk about what’s in their bags, Phoebe would have surely hit the mark with a hairbrush, an egg in a shoe, and a living goldfish in hers.
McGuire has shared how she often had to work in coordination with the co-creators of the show as a lot of the scenes were written around an item of clothing where they had to maintain continuity and use the item as a prop. One of the biggest game-changing moments in the show was written around a red sweater that belonged to Ross. While a couple other episodes pushed his character to wear a women’s t-shirt and fitted leather pants, many times Ross’s wardrobe became a part of the script. The only seriousness of his character was maintained by his elbow-patched and formal professor jackets.
As an unemployed actor in New York, Joey gave us the hots layered with a classic leather jacket and fitted high neck t-shirts. His wardrobe developed towards flannel shirts and full sleeved jumpers as he began to make serious decisions like eating a whole turkey on Thanksgiving or purchasing Pat – the ceramic dog. His flirty and sexy charm was often elaborated with textured and tactile clothing.
“OH MY GOD” – how could I not mention Janice’s shoulder pads moment? The loud personality of her character was wildly expressed through her many leopard-printed pieces. Besides her, other supporting characters too presented their personal characteristics thoroughly via their costumes. Monica’s boyfriend Richard with his buttoned-up shirts and cigars, Phoebe’s twin sister Ursula who wore black, and Joey’s agent Estelle who belonged to the ‘80s – all added to the charm of the sitcom.
Be it season one’s ‘The One with the Thumb’ or season three’s ‘The One with the Football,’ the gang has thrown around some tips on how to do athleisure right. Casual joggers have been worn by all characters throughout the show. Denim vests and overalls were two other pieces picked from the surrounding fashion scene that made the characters more relatable. Building a wardrobe that showcased the process of each character’s growth over the long period of ten years while keeping it real was a tough job very well done.
‘90s fashion as a whole brought a sense of ungendered and individualistic styles. And F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is a remarkable documentation of this joyful and carefree time in history. The show and the characters have not only entertained millions but has also allowed us to cherish the simple things in life. Happy Reunion!
You can read more of Suhani’s work on suhani17.wordpress.com and on Instagram by following @suhani_lotlikar