Friends is one of those time capsule shows. Its characters, their vernacular, their issues, and especially their clothing feel frozen in time—a nostalgic snapshot of the 1990s. To be honest, I was never really here nor there on the show. It’s been around for as long as I’ve existed and while I’ve never railed against or excluded myself from it, neither have I ever kicked off my shoes after a long day and been like, “Can’t wait to see The One With Rachel and the Plane!” or whatever. But looking back at the series now, 25 years since it premiered, I am struck by how much of its fashion aesthetic skewed lesbian. And that, I am totally here for. In fact, I’d venture to say that Friends is my sartorial fetish.
The denim! The plaid! The oversized sweatshirts and backwards baseball caps! The sitcom’s styling was lesbian fashion perfected as an art form. Although, I could do without Rachel’s miniature vests—I think queer women, as a culture, can probably do without vests from here on out (with all due respect to Jennifer Aniston for making them happen in the ’90s so that the cast of The L Word could carry them into the aughts). Still, each “friend” carved out her/his/their own corner of lesbian fashion in ways worth emulating now. Let’s take a closer look.
Monica was typically the highest femme of the lady Friends, but when she went butch, she slayed. Monica loved a loose, collared button-up, a belted, high-waist jean and a fashionable sneaker. I’ll pass on her floor-length skirts, but I’ll take Courtney Cox in a casual high-neck tee or a mock turtle any day.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel was the sole authority of nipple couture, always dressing for the perfect amount of nipple visibility. Rachel had a stronger grasp on lesbian fashion on Friends than I’ve had in a lifetime of being a lesbian. She had range: On the more feminine side of things, Rachel could rock a plaid schoolgirl skirt and cropped sweater and call me a dyke to my face and I’d say “thank you.” She loved overalls, full-length or shorts. She laid the groundwork for the best layered T-shirt-wearers of the aughts (looking at you, Ashley Tisdale and Ashlee Simpson). A T-shirt over a long-sleeve? Duh. A tank-top over a tee? Why not! And if there’s one look the Friends costumer, Debra McGuire perfected, it was 90s girls in vintage New York sports team merch.
If Phoebe were around today, she’d definitely be that boho-chic weed bisexual who foists the healing power of crystals on you whenever you get together. Phoebe wasn’t afraid to wear a long, Cate Blanchett-esque coat, a denim dress over a long-sleeved tee, or a fringe so heinous it actually came full circle and somehow worked (and same goes for her despicable vests). Heinous-but-it-works is exactly the kind of look queer women gravitate towards (or at least I do). And lest we forget Phoebe was the main arbiter of choker necklaces—that 90s phenom that came sweeping back through teen fashion in 2018, before swiftly disappearing again.
Joey and Ross
Now, Joey and Ross’s wardrobes, as far as I’m concerned, existed to highlight just how utterly boring straight white men can be. Unfortunately, their lame button-ups and ill-fitting pants are still being donned by straight men all over the world. Would it kill you to visit a tailor, Ross? They both dressed like dudes who invite you to their improv shows every week until you block their numbers. Then again, they remind me of how I dressed immediately after coming out as gay and I traded in dresses and mini-skirts for baggier pants and loose tees. In other words, Ross and Joey looked like baby gays before all their hot lesbian friends took them to Wildfang. Relatable.
Between his bowling shirts, mismatched color-blocked button-ups, oversized sweatshirts, and boot-cut denim, Chandler had the best Sapphic Style of the decade—Could he BE any more lesbian?