Suddenly I Want To Dress Like Season 1-2 Monica, Rachel And Phoebe All At Once
The Debrief: Could we BE wearing any more 90s clothes?
So no one told you trends were gonna be this way. One day you find yourself dressed like Phoebe Buffay…
Yes, because my job’s a joke, I’m broke and my love life is buried somewhere under two quilts, a sweatshirt and an electric blanket, I’ve been rewatching Friends from the beginning. So far I’m up to the end of season two and I’ve discovered several things: 1) I am two years older than Monica was in season one and am still approx. 15 years off a comparable collection of lamps and cushions, 2) I am, however, old enough to finally understand why Richard was so damn sexy, and 3) I want to dress like them. All of them. Occasionally even Janice.
Yes, that ol’ 20-year trend cycle rule means that we are smack bang back at the point where the fashion in early Friends has started looking attractive again. Where once we laughed at those dungarees and button-down mum dresses, now we’re pressing pause and taking notes.
Here’s how to (Central) perk up your wardrobe, courtesy of this cool new thing called the internet. Now all you need is a really big coffee cup.
We’ll start with Rachel, because obviously.
As well as being the only Friend who manages to look convincingly like a real-life person in their 20s, there’s pretty much nothing Rachel wears in the first two seasons that would look out of place on the high street in 2016. Those rollnecks. Those velvet bodies. Those kicky miniskirts, baseball t-shirts and high-waisted mom jeans. I am Gunthering all over that wardrobe.
Forget prints and keep it plain; fit it is the key point with early Rachel. All her simple knits and jersey basics are worn either coolly slouchy or, more often, wetsuit-tight – think high necks, with all focus on the silhouette and the waist. A good test is to stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself ‘how would this look with a waitress apron?’
This semi-sheer grey polo knit by Finery toes the cosy/sexy line perfectly, as does this lovely ribbed navy number from & Other Stories with thumbholes in the sleeves (thumbholes!). Then there’s the baseball top by Tee and Cake , and this very Rachel pseudo-rugby top from Urban Outfitters.
Wear it tight. Tighter. Can you still breathe? Cool. There you go! You look kick-you-in-the-crotch spit-on-your-neck fantastic.
Let’s not kid ourselves here – in later years, Phoebe’s sartorial efforts went downhill like ugly naked guy on a skateboard. All those marabou-trim cardigans, bias-cut skirts and quasi-Per Una velvet devoré scarves are less likely to find their way into our homes and hearts than Smelly Cat. (Or at least, that’s my stance until I wake up in four years’ time with a sudden urge to wear bias-cut devoré marabou trim everything, and we have to forget we ever had this conversation.)
But early Phoebe, that’s another matter. Back before her whole Greenwich Village hippie vibe morphed into a frustrated high school art teacher, La Buffay gave on-point lessons in 90s layering that we can all learn from today. Take your Rachel-esque stretchy basics and then put on top any or all of the following: a fringed suede jacket, a velvet waistcoat, a longline tie-dye waistcoat, a denim shirt, an embroidered shirt, a shirt that manages to be denim, embroidered, tie-dye and fringed suede all at once, or a dress that looks like something from medieval cosplay. Plus a scrunchie.
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate early-Phoebe’s hair? You’d be forgiven for not noticing because people weren’t walking around with long blonde waves and calling it ‘the Phoebe’ for half a decade, but her hair in its earliest incarnation is actually the best Friends hair. A thing of pure, mermaid splendour, all thick and luscious from the days before ceramic straighteners came along and turned everyone’s locks to very limp straw. It’s good enough to make you reconsider bunches. Let’s not even think about what they did to that hair in later years, because I’ll cry.
Of all Phoebe’s season one and two looks, the shirts are probably the most entry-level – get yourself to Topshop for a rainbow of noisy options to wear tied up, with a clingy midi dress and ankle boots. Try this one, this one, this one and even this one if you’re feeling particularly Regina Phalange.
It’s hard for us to process some of Monica’s early outfits, because we have to take ourselves back to a time when wearing a bright red shoulder padded suit jacket didn’t immediately mean you were going to a fancy dress party as Angela Merkel. But heavy duty tailoring aside, there’s a lot of great stuff to be pilfered from Monica’s pleasingly preppy wardrobe.
Tapered slacks, for one thing, and tennis shoes for another – the Geller ankles saw more action in the mid-90s than little Joey.
This pleated pair of trousers from Finery should do the job
with this skinny-ribbed shirt on top
and a pair of gleaming white Stan Smiths on the bottom. And we mean gleaming. This is Monica, after all.
Bonus extras: Carol and Susan
Because back then NBC considered ‘being a lesbian’ enough of a novel character trait, it’s easy to forget that Carol and Susan made some pretty stonking wardrobe choices – not least these natty hats at their wedding. It’s probably going to be a few years before we see wide-brimmed bridal hats make an appearance on Say Yes To The Dress, but in the meantime here’s a cheerful pom-pom number that does the job for daywear.
And now, to enjoy the 90s revival while it lasts. Because when those noughties twinsets and trouser suits arrive in season four, I’ve a feeling we’ll still be on a break.
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