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Friends at 25: Why Monica Geller was the real sartorial star of the show

Olivia Petter
Friends/Warner Bros Television

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So no one told you life was gonna go this quickly, because it’s been 25 years since Friends first graced our TV screens – and the nostalgia for all things 1990s has kicked in.

The cult US sitcom has long been hailed for its acerbic script and gripping will-they-won’t-they plotlines, but for many fans, it’s the show’s distinctive sartorial identity that lives on.

Just this week Ralph Lauren announced it had curated a special Rachel Green-inspired collection to mark the upcoming anniversary, while freewheeling bohemians continue to channel their inner Phoebe Buffay via floaty dresses and brocade cardigans.

It is, however, Monica Geller whose style maintains its supremacy today, when designers are tapping into unpretentious 1990s fashion trends more than ever before, thus re-woking many of the character’s go-to wardrobe staples.

“We regularly see Monica’s normcore aesthetic all over the runways,” says Hannah Craggs, senior editor at trend forecasting company WGSN, referring to the character’s signature stone-wash jeans, plaid flannel shirts and biker boots.

The fit of her clothes is also important, notes Craggs, explaining how Monica’s straight-leg jeans and loose-fitting shirts make regular appearances at luxury streetwear-inspired labels like Vetements and Off-White.

Monica favoured a flannel shirt and jeans combination. (Friends/Warner Bros Television)

Denim jackets were a key look for Monica too, which today come via Balenciaga, whose boxy oversized versions practically scream “It’s the humidity!”

As for accessories, Monica was pinning her hair back with pearly barrettes and sparky clips long before designer Ashley Williams had us all craving her signature “BOYS” pins, the ones that are largely credited for making girlish hair slides suitable for grownups.

Monica pictured wearing an embellished hair clip. (Friends/Warner Bros Television)

It’s no surprise, then, that Monica was dubbed the “poster girl” for 1990s fashion trends at a Net-a-Porter summer trends conference earlier this year.

Another important aspect of the character’s wardrobe that perhaps put her ahead of the frock-filled ones of her comrades is its priority on comfort and utility, both of which have come to dictate the trend circuit for several seasons now. Look to the rise of boilersuits, hiking boots and puffer jackets and you’ll see that practicality is no longer the sartorial buzzkill it once was.

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“Monica’s style really resonates today,” says Emily Gordon-Smith, director of consumer product at trends intelligence company Stylus.

It’s all about an unthreatening, girl-next-door easy wardrobe,” she adds, citing Monica’s penchant for tomboyish trousers and shirts. “It’s basically what most people still where every day but with a cool vintage edge.”

Grlfrnd Mica high-rise straight-leg jeans: £255, RTA Maxine plaid woven shirt: £340, Simone Rocha Silver-tone faux pearl hair slide: £75, Simone Rocha Silver-tone, faux pearl and crystal hair slide: £120, Prada Cable-knit mohair-blend sweater: £480, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star 70 canvas high-top sneakers: £70.

That said, when it came to dressing up, Monica never failed to disappoint. Remember the cowl neck scarlet gown she wore to Ross’s wedding in London? Or her devastatingly elegant wedding gown?

Monica's festive outfit she wore to Ross's wedding in London. (Friends/Warner Bros Television)

Regardless of whether Monica was heading to an event, darting around the kitchen in structured chef whites or simply lounging at home, she dressed for the part with aplomb. Hence why we’re still waiting for The One Where Everyone Raids Monica’s Wardrobe.