Are you a fan of the TV show FRIENDS?

Friends launched in 1994, and with lots of buzz about the 1990s style influences happening right now, I discovered that the iconic 90’s TV show also has some great wardrobe and style insights that can help everyone look good and more put together.

Costume designer Debra McGuire is credited for creating the looks for the entire cast but it’s really the Friends female characters that deliver the 1990s style punch.

I remember reading fashion magazines in 1995/96 about who was dressing the female characters and creating all the cool outfits. People were very intrigued by the fact that McGuire mixed high-low, chose unknown designers, and used accessories as a way to express the individual characters.

Here are my top style lessons from the female characters of FRIENDS:

ASPIRATIONAL DRESSING

1. ON CAMERA – The costume designer had a background in fine art and viewed the show from an artists eye. They had to look good on camera – it was a TV show – and her goal was to enhance the whole look of the show, with colors and textures that would create a pleasing look.

Lesson: We’re all on camera now! Check out each of the female characters and notice how they consistently look good on the show. The outfits are put together without being overdone. Want to check how you look? The best way is with a selfie. It’s more accurate than just looking in the mirror. The selfie will reveal if your outfit looks good or if there is something off. This is a trick I teach my clients. The selfie never lies.

2. EVOLUTION – As the show progressed so did the characters and thus their wardrobes and outfits did too. For example when Rachel began working for Bloomingdale’s and then Ralph Lauren her style evolved and reflected her career and moving up the corporate ladder.

Lesson: Dress for the job and life you want.

FIT

1. ALTERATIONS – One reason the actresses always looked so good is that their clothing was altered to achieve the best and most flattering fit. So, even though things were bought off the rack, garments were tailored so they would look really good on each star.

Lesson: This is super important and one of the best ways to look better in clothing is having things altered to best suit your figure. I’ve heard Jennifer Aniston has her T-shirts tailored for the best fit and wonder if she picked this up while being on the show.

2. RECONSTRUCTED – The costume designer would occasionally remake and redo certain garments. This was due to a particular vision and re-imagining a garment by dramatically changing it to better suit the characters.

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to see the possibility in a garment if you can remake or reinvent it into something more current or flattering to you. This is especially relevant for items in your closet that could benefit from being changed or altered, instead of being tossed into the donate pile. If you follow Trinny Woodall, of What Not To Wear fame, you know she does this a lot.

STYLE

1. STYLE OVER FASHION – The costume designer wasn’t going for “fashion” when dressing the ladies. Again, she approached the costuming like an artist mixing texture and color. She truly tried to imagine the taste, interests, travel experiences, etc. of each character and letting their unique point of view come through in their clothing. Each character developed a style and palette that was unique. This created a consistent, recognizable look for each character.

Rachel (click) – Cute, classic, preppy, schoolgirl, borrows from the boys, fashion aware and career-oriented.

Monica (click) – Clean lines, color blocking, classic, and minimal.

Phoebe (click) – Expressive, mixed media, accessorized, creative, risk-taker, and bohemian.

Lesson: Having a consistent style will allow you to mix and match easier, curate a capsule wardrobe, and get dressed faster and easier. It can allow you to create a wardrobe that is authentic to you and help you express your taste and style. And if you are on social media for your business, you will be more recognizable to your clients and followers because there will be continuity in your general appearance.

2. ACCESSORIES – Accessories were used to finish and complete the outfits. The characters were usually very thoughtfully put together with their outfits. The accessories were well chosen to complement, express, and enhance the costumes/outfits.

Lesson: Choose style over fashion. Don’t be afraid to mix and match and make your look feel authentic to you. Leverage accessories, hair, and makeup to create your unique look.

And finally, I leave you with this quote from Debra McGuire: 

“Fashion is all about understanding what works for you, rather than bending to be a part of the trend. And that’s always the most important thing to remember”.

Which friends character’s style did you like best?

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