It’s been almost a quarter of a century since it debuted but Friends has become part of the TV landscape. The series about six quirky pals in New York was an instant hit, making all six of its leads stars and soon fashion notables. The leaders of the pack were the two female leads. In the role that made her a star, Jennifer Aniston was Rachel, the former rich girl who moves to the city and tries to get a new life going for herself. Courtney Cox was Monica, the often tightly wound chef who acted like the den mother to the group. The two were roommates on the show and bounced off each other wonderfully in the comic timing and other events. They also showcased a fun style. “The Rachel” became the must-get haircut for women but Monica had her own good stuff as well. They also managed to take the changing styles of the early 1990s to the early 2000s and look absolutely amazing.
Several of the outfits are notable for how they were nice and affordable, not breaking the bank for fans to emulate. Of course, just like their apartment, several outfits were more expensive than the characters should have been able to afford. But fans loved them all the same. It’s easy to see Rachel as the fashion plate which made sense given her rich lifestyle and business work. However, Monica could often match or even outdo her with her own great looks. Here are 12 times each lady got the attention of viewers and why the show remains as popular today as it was back then.
24 Monica: Satin
Monica had a few boyfriends early in the show but the most notable was Richard. Played by TV icon Tom Selleck, he was a rich businessman whose party Monica once catered. They hit it off fast and soon became a regular couple. It was notable given how he was a good twenty years older than her yet they clicked wonderfully. This led Monica to a more upscale life than usual, becoming Richard’s guest at a variety of fancy parties. Thus, we have her in this lovely satin gown, her shoulders bare, fitting her nice thin figure but also accenting her curves. The pendant around her neck also helps and combines to show how amazingly beautiful she can be.
They had a good run but in the end, Monica ended it with Richard because he did not want marriage and a family. They would have a later reunion but Selleck, of course, ended up becoming busy with other projects. While she later fell in love with and married Chandler, Monica clearly had a soft spot for Richard. She often referenced their time together.
23 Rachel: the date
To be generous, Rachel has been rather active when it comes to boyfriends. Monica likes to crack about Rachel dating slews of guys in high school and college, and it only continues as the show goes on. It does seem that she goes for doctors (one funny episode has her and Monica double-dating Noah Wyle and George Clooney playing on their ER characters) and continues to romance other guys before and after Ross. But despite having an attitude that could be occasionally rude, Rachel remains a nice gal who wants to help others and truly cares for her friends. Of course, she’s not above using her beauty to get what she wants (and openly admits it).
Thus the moments where we have her going around in outfits like this. The dress is amazing with the long slit to show off one of her stylish legs and a dip at the front. But the fact that she’s wearing it while licking some takeout meal is the contrast of the rich life Rachel likes, and the new laid back person she has become. Put it together and it’s no wonder guys fall for her so easily, as she can be the woman of many a man’s dreams.
22 Monica: Tear It Off
For years, the Ross-Rachel romance dominated the show. They bantered a lot and went back and forth; with Ross pining for her, then Rachel pining for him. They finally got together, broke up, got back together and broke up again. However, out of nowhere, the day before Ross’s wedding, Chandler and Monica had a one-night stand. It seemed like the most random thing ever but before fans knew it, the two were hooking up constantly. It turned out they were perfect for one another and they added such a great dynamic to the show. This included the hysterical episode of everyone else finding out, with the famous line, “They don’t know we know that they know we know!”.
This pic can show her more fun and wild look, where she decides to give Chandler a very happy bachelor party and decide to strip for him since the woman she hired could not come through. So we have her in a white shirt flaunting her belly, a leather jacket and matching jeans with hair nicely done up. The scene as a whole is pretty hilarious, and we love the fact that it took Chandler to bring out this fun and flirty side with Monica.
21 Rachel: The Later Coffee Look
For the first few seasons of the show, Rachel at the coffee house was just an accepted part of the series. It worked well with Rachel growing up and accepting she had to change. A couple of episodes had her attempting to teach her younger sisters the same methods only to realize they were both too selfish and dumb to pull it off (one honestly couldn’t grasp why a salon to tan babies didn’t succeed). However, Rachel eventually realized she couldn’t be a coffee shop gal her entire life. She finally landed a job working at Bloomingdale’s (Phoebe: “It’s like the mother ship is calling you home!”) and slowly worked her way up the corporate ladder to be a success.
This outfit is from her later days at Central Perk where she was becoming far more stylish. The gorgeous blouse is sheer near the shoulders and nicely opened at the front without becoming too flashy. That’s matched by the black skirt to show off her legs and makes her look lovely while not too over the top. It broke Gunther’s heart when she finally quit but he probably wasn’t the only one who was sorry to see her go!
20 Monica: Laced Up
Monica has always been cited as tightly wound and very authoritative in her personality. That’s best exemplified by her obsession with cleaning which was mild when the show started but grew more pronounced as it went on. It bordered on obsessive-compulsive disorder, with Monica unable to go anywhere without making it spic and span to the point where she’d often be mistaken for a hotel maid by insisting on making the rooms she stayed in look spotless. So it’s no surprise she was always looking great in outfits, making sure they were spotless and showing off very well. That’s why many were amazed she and Chandler hooked up as he could be a bit of a slob.
Yet Monica looked great, especially in outfits like this. The dark top looks fun already but then the mesh laces look more notable with the dark pants. Monica always had curves, she just didn’t flaunt it nearly as often as one would think. Her attitude could be annoying at times as her friends were a bit tired of her cleanliness obsession. But throw in the right outfit and her own great style and Monica could be a great standout.
19 Rachel: On the Job
Rachel grew up in wealth and thus never had to grasp simple things like doing her own laundry, cooking or handling a job. Thus, her early work as a waitress was a bit rough with her figuring out orders and carrying them out. There was also the eye-opener when she got her first paycheck and learned what taxes meant (leading to her classic line “Who is this FICA person and why is he getting all my money?!”). However, there’s no denying she looked absolutely great on the job, better than any waitress should. Her jean top and matching skirt flaunted her beauty and she wasn’t above undoing a few buttons if it meant getting better tips.
Of course, she could be bad at times and often took too much time talking to the gang when they stopped by. It inspired the fan theory that the only reason Rachel even kept her job so long was that café owner Gunther had a huge crush on her and was willing to ignore her failures. But for the first few seasons of the show, Rachel was easily the most beautiful coffee waitress television had ever seen and outfits like this was a key reason why.
18 Monica: Simple Style
A running gag through the series is that Monica is clearly the less favorite of the two Geller siblings. They constantly favor Ross and often ignore Monica. A classic bit is when Ross is nearly killed in a crash and calms his mother down by telling her “even if I died, you wouldn’t be childless.” There’s a pause where his mother clearly is asking why, with Ross snapping “Monica!” Indeed, Monica had expected her parents to afford a huge wedding to Chandler only to find they’d spent her huge wedding fund years ago, convinced she’d never find the right guy. That might play into why Monica was a bit low-key in her fashion in the early years, not as outgoing and seeming to be weighed down by this neglect.
Yet she can still look fantastic. Few women can make a simple pair of blue jeans and a large white blouse as utterly stunning as Monica does here. The show plays on her as the much-needed voice of reason and something of the “Mom” figure although she can often be just as nuts as the rest of the bunch. Yet she can still make a pair of jeans work nicely and proves just how great she can look without showing off.
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17 Rachel: American Pride
One of the popular fan theories involves Rachel connected to a character from another NBC show. In one episode, Monica mocks Rachel’s bed-hopping ways, listing several guys she’s been with on the first date. Among them was a “Ben Wyatt.” Today, fans know that name as one of the characters from the hit NBC show Parks & Recreation, a guy elected mayor of his small town at 18. He was then impeached two months later after bankrupting the town on an ice sports facility. Fans thus love to imagine that a younger Ben and Rachel had this hook-up before going their separate ways.
It is indicated Rachel traveled a lot back when she had the cash to afford it and thus makes sense she might have gone to Minnesota for some reason. She showed her love for country in this nice outfit with a bright white shirt and “USA” logo across the top. Her black skirt and hose over those lovely legs complete the picture, obviously just hanging about yet managing to look stunning all the same. One can easily see Rachel doing a lot of traveling despite now known as a New York Gal yet bringing that same style with her.
16 Monica: Catwoman
The annual tradition for the show is the Thanksgiving episode which is the home to some hilarious antics by the gang. Surprisingly, Friends didn’t do as much for Halloween. That holiday is pretty much a sitcom trope with characters dressing up in costumes and getting into some nutty stuff. However, the Friends writers avoided it as if thinking it was just too easy a setup to use. They finally relented in season eight however with Monica and Chandler throwing a party at their place. Ross comes as a satellite which comes off looking like a huge potato. Chandler is in a bizarre pig/bunny outfit. Joey comes as Chandler in a bad impression. Phoebe makes a surprisingly good Supergirl. And a pregnant Rachel is “the girl who just spent a lot of money on a dress and wants to wear it as much as she can before she can’t fit in it.”
Monica outdoes them all in a terrific Catwoman costume, complete with tail. It shows her amazingly fit form off, fitting her perfectly, not flaunting too much but still sensational. The fact she looks like the character with her black hair stands out more as she does her best to contain some of the party’s wilder bits. It makes sense that as Catwoman, Monica totally steals the show.
15 Rachel: The Mid-Riff
Rachel was notable for her unique ability to rework outfits. A famous episode has her showing up at a boyfriend’s place in a satin slip to flaunt herself. But when her date shows up with his parents, she has to pass it off as a European dress. That plays through the show as the costume designers kept coming up with new outfits to fit Rachel, who goes from dirt poor to more successful as the show goes on. This early first season look showcases her nice beauty (aside from a larger batch of hair) as Rachel was dating a handsome guy named Paolo. She cut loose more in her attitude as this showcases her great mid-riff with the tied-up top and nice skirt. Sadly, the relationship quickly went south when Rachel saw Paolo hitting on Phoebe.
This ties into the show’s first Valentine’s Day episode as the girls “celebrate” with a burning of the mementos of their exes as Phoebe tries to work a bizarre spell. It shows how fun it all is and that Rachel had to hit a bad patch in possible romances for a bit before she and Ross finally got together. And this was a lovely style for her romantic exploits.
14 Monica: Suspenders
Of all the cast members of the show, Courtney Cox was the best known beforehand. She’d had roles in some short-lived TV shows like Misfits of Science and girlfriends on Family Ties and Seinfeld. However, the actress burst into fame in 1984 in Bruce Springsteen’s video for “Dancing In the Dark.” She was the girl in the crowd he brings on stage to dance with him and got Cox major attention. That lovely style carried into Monica who seemed to be catching up to the fashion of the ‘80s (which made sense as in high school, she was majorly overweight). Yet she could make them work in a great way and truly look fantastic.
This is a great example, a simple black dress, and white blouse but the large suspenders make them stand out. The hose covers her underrated legs and her black hair perfectly frames her lovely face. It’s very stylish, fitting in with Monica’s job as a chef and working in upscale restaurants. But it shows how Monica was adept at working the styles of one decade into another and looking utterly fantastic through it all.
13 Rachel: The First Knockout
A constant for every TV show is what’s known as “the bottle episode.” This is where, to save some money, the entire episode takes place in a single location. Sitcoms make it a bit easier to pull off and a blatant case is season three’s “The One Where No One’s Ready”. The gang is supposed to attend a big party at Ross’ museum with him coming over in his tuxedo. He’s naturally thrown to realize not only are the rest not prepared but half of them completely forgot about it. So over the next 22 minutes, they have to get prepared among various twists and turns throughout the episode, distracting them. Keep in mind this was long before 24 revolutionized the “real-time episode” format.
Things are chaotic with wild bits like Joey walking in wearing literally every item of clothing Chandler owns in response to a prank. Meanwhile, Monica gets into a mess trying to erase a message she left an ex-boyfriend. A frantic Ross ends up insulting Rachel who decides to just stay home. But she finally agrees, coming out in a gorgeous dress that clings to her curves and wows Ross. The kicker is her whisper that she’s “gone commando” as they leave. It’s a great payoff but also a lovely outfit.
12 Monica: Working Out
One of the funniest revelations of the gang is when they’re watching a video of themselves in high school. When the camera moves to Monica, it’s revealed she was pushing 300 pounds (Monica: “The camera adds ten pounds.” Chandler: “So how many cameras are actually on you?”) More flashbacks show Monica was pretty thick back then but it was being insulted on it by Chandler that encouraged her to basically lose 120 pounds in a single year. It’s touched on a few more times (the “what if” episode imagines she’s still overweight) and shows that she is able to stay dedicated to her new body.
So it makes sense she’s shown working out a lot during the show in order to keep her shape up. This pic has her coming back from a jog and looking sensational with black shorts and jacket over a sports top. The classic headphones and Walkman are a lovely throwback to the ‘90s and she’s doing the classic sitcom trope of entering with them on and thus not knowing Joey is hanging around until she turns to see him. She sure did trim down and this outfit is a nice showcase of how Monica got herself into very serious shape.
11 Rachel: Not So Pretty In Pink
Given her own bad luck with weddings, it’s no wonder Rachel was wary about becoming a bridesmaid to the woman marrying her ex-fiancée. But she could never imagine how bad it would get. We have Ross coming out of her room, telling Rachel “you look good.” He then encourages the others to tell her she looks good, no matter what. Enter Rachel in a hideously bright pink dress with huge poufy shoulders and a massive heart at the center. Everyone gawks while Phoebe gushes it looks great which is enough for Rachel to know she looks like a walking piece of bubble-gum. She then has to top it off with a huge white hat that makes her look like she’s attending some sort of bizarre horse race.
As bad as that look is, it’s worse for Rachel at the wedding itself. It seems that he ex’s parents have spread the word that Rachel dumped their son because she was crazy and couldn’t stay faithful. Thankfully, Ross is there to give support and talk of how brave Rachel is for doing this. The bravery should be just wearing this look, which is an eye-catcher in all the wrong ways.
10 Monica: The Turkey
It takes a special woman to pull this look off. In “The One With All the Thanksgivings,” the gang sits around to remember various wacky times surrounding the holiday. That includes how Joey once got his head stuck in a turkey. Another is set in the 1980s when Chandler and Monica first met when Monica was vastly overweight and Chandler made fun of her. The next year, Monica was now a thin knockout to lord it over Chandler only to accidentally cut off one of his toes with a dropped knife. Chandler is upset with Monica (who he’s now dating) and they have a fight. Trying to make up for it, Monica shows up with the turkey over her head to cheer him up.
The sight alone is good but then she adds to it by putting on a fez, huge sunglasses and finally a body-shaking dance. It’s great with her nice top and black pants, showing the flirty and funny side to Monica. But it also has a turn as Chandler is so moved that for the first time, he blurts out “I love you.” Monica is moved but Chandler tries to backtrack, leaving just as Joey enters, takes one look at the turkey-headed Monica and runs away screaming. Only this show could mix such a notable emotional turn with a hysterical comedy bit.
9 Rachel: Dynamite Denim
The first dozen episodes of the show can be a bit rough to watch today. Like any long-running series, you’ll see the characters looking and sounding much different than they later would. Rachel, in particular, comes off more selfish and a bit of a brat, the former rich girl not adjusting well to life in the big city. It also took a while for that haircut of hers to transform into a nationwide hair and fashion icon. As part of her early stages, Rachel had to be borrowing clothes from Monica before she could afford her own. Thus, she’s wearing one of Monica’s usual outfits, a denim top, and jeans with suspenders over a white shirt. However, she looks terrific in it.
That includes laundry as the gang naturally get in shots at Rachel not knowing anything about detergent or dryers. She goes to a public laundromat but gets into a conflict with the local woman who acts like a bully. A pep talk from Ross gets Rachel to stand up for herself, and that is actually the setting of their first kiss! Rachel is so overjoyed and proud of herself, and grateful to Ross that she plants a big one on him, stunning him.
8 Monica: Dancing Up a Storm
One of the series’ long-running gags was how folks would note Monica and Ross were a bit…close. More than once, people would jump to the assumption they were married, not brother and sister and it’s easy why people would get mixed up, considering how they bounce off each other with bickering and such. But it showcased they could be on the same wavelength a lot and in ways that could come off a tad creepy. Hands down the biggest was “The One With the Routine.” On New Year’s Eve, the duo attends a taping of Dick Clark’s famous specials where they want to get on camera and show off. They feel ignored so decide to break out an old dance routine they used to perform in high school. Cue an absolutely ridiculous dance with wild moves and the two getting pretty close at times. They’re ecstatic when they’re told they’ll be on camera…unaware that it’ll be under the “worst dancers” montage.
Still, Monica looks beautiful with a nice shiny top and dark pants and while the dance is intentionally terrible, she looks great doing it. She and Ross nicely match up with the moves and how they think they’re the coolest folks around, showing these siblings really do think alike.
7 Rachel: The Runaway Bride
It’s one of the best opening scenes to any comedy pilot ever. The main gang is hanging around the coffee shop (a sight that would become normal) as Ross is groaning over getting divorced after his wife realized she was into women. He rants about “I just want to be married!” Enter Rachel decked out in her full wedding dress. “I just want a million dollars!” Chandler yells out. Monica recognizes Rachel, who confesses she just ran out on her own wedding and left the groom at the altar. She asks if she can stay with Monica for a few days with Monica, citing their long friendship…with Monica asking if they were such good friends, why wasn’t she invited to the wedding?
It set the tone for the series, with the offbeat humor and how the characters all connected well. It helps that Rachel looks terrific in the dress. She starts out the show as a knockout, the rich spoiled girl who had everything handed to her. It’s no wonder they’re a tad upset Rachel doesn’t want to live out their carefully planned life for her but rather try and make her own path. By the end of the pilot, she has a job and she and Monica are roommates. Yet, the sight of this runaway bride is where the decade-long journey began, making this an iconic dress.
6 Monica: Daring Denim
1994 was an odd year for fashion in the U.S. People were still clinging to some of the motifs of the late 1980s as a new wave was washing over. Friends paved the way for much of the fashion of young people and looked great doing it. Monica’s style in the early seasons was more laid-back than the others since her job did not require any high fashion detail. Thus bringing us to the photo above, where she is supporting denim overalls, a white tank top and looks completely comfortable and casual. It’s a great relaxed outfit and Monica looks terrific in it. The black sweater tied around her waist is an interesting touch but she makes it all work out well.
The early episodes played on how Rachel (who moved in with just a wedding dress) had to adjust to a different wardrobe living with Monica and borrowing her stuff. But from the start, we see Monica had her own fun style as well and made it work along with her nice short hair. Rachel may have gotten more attention in the early days but Monica could more than match her in making looking comfortable also look quite nice.
5 Rachel: The Cheerleader
In “The One With the Fake Party,” Rachel is trying to get close to one of her clients Joshua (Tate Donovan) but isn’t getting anywhere. She decides to throw a “party” which is really just the excuse for the gang to tell Joshua how great Rachel is. It ties into Rachel’s past and some mentions of how she was a cheerleader in high school. Naturally, Rachel decides to go back to her roots, declaring “in four years, this baby never missed!” Monica at first tries to stop her but then admits she just wants to see what happens. What happens is Rachel doing a cheer and a cartwheel that ends up knocking out one of her teeth. She then tries to seduce Josh while holding an ice pack and supporting an obvious lisp.
It’s hilarious, but Rachel also looks great in that outfit. It’s a classic one with red sweater and skirt, a black and white trim at the bottom and her hair done up in a ponytail. That she’s not as coordinated now doesn’t take away from how gorgeous she is. It’s no wonder she was so popular in it in her high school days. While her seduction didn’t quite work out as planned, this is an outfit worth cheering for.
4 Monica: Rocking Red
It’s easy to see a style change with Monica when she and Chandler started hooking up. She seems far more comfortable as, after so many bad boyfriends, she’s finally landed a guy who truly understands her and she can get along with. Thus, her outfits, while some remain fun, tend to be a bit more casual. But prior to that, like the photo above, she was busy making sure she always looked her best. Take this nice set, a pair of simple jeans and a bright red sweater. It stands out very nicely as she takes part in the infamous “trivia game” for who gets the girls’ big apartment. It’s a funny episode as a whole, the gang bouncing off each other’s humour, yelling at the top of their lungs. It ultimately lands with the girls losing. They naturally don’t take well to being cramped in Chandler and Joey’s smaller place and the writers probably realized it didn’t fit them.
Thus, a few eps later, they have a rematch which the girls lose again. So they just go ahead and move all their stuff back. When the guys confront them, the duo make a deal: In exchange for the apartment, they will “kiss for one minute.” Naturally, the guys agree and consider it “totally worth it.” This just shows how red-hot Monica can be.
3 Rachel: The Schoolgirl Look
The early idea of Rachel was having her be a bit scatterbrained but the writers soon realized that fit Phoebe better. Instead, it was shown that Rachel was smart but rather sheltered due to her wealth. Her good grades in school even had more to do with who she knew rather than what she actually knew. So she was smart, but just didn’t always apply herself. However, she’s far better than her younger sister (played by Christina Applegate) who is showcased as having a terrible memory and quite possibly dumber than Rachel ever tends to be. But several lines indicate that Rachel’s school life was very good to her, even when she didn’t have the most desirable nose.
So it makes sense this outfits rocks the “schoolgirl” look nicely. The white top already looks good but what brings it together is the plaid skirt that goes over her waist, flaunting plenty of leg. The knee high socks combined with the shoes look just adorable. That this wasn’t for a costume or anything but just a normal night at home makes it even better. She may have been a so-so student but Rachel sure knows how to make a schoolgirl look work for her nicely.
2 Monica: The shopping
This is a simple but elegant dress that Monica decided to wear for a day of shopping for groceries back in season one. You may be wondering how it is that she managed to outshine Rachel here? Well come on just look at her? Sometimes it’s the simple dresses and styles that make these girls stand out and this is a prime example of such an instance.
Monica is wearing a summer dress, with soft floral patterns that go barely mid-thigh. Need we say more? She looks fun, relaxed, ready to cook for her friends, instead of all dolled up like Rachel tends to often be. Not that there is anything wrong with that look at all, but the beautiful thing about Monica is the fact that she is so much more low-key than Rachel in terms of fashion (definitely not in terms of personality. Remember that episode where Monica was called high maintenance, man that didn’t go away for a while). Still, she owns herself in this particular look. She looks flirty, fun, and fabulous. Her hair is styled but not over the top, her makeup is light and wonderful. The running shoes add an extra level of casualness that is just to die for.
1 Rachel: The Leia Bikini
This is one of the most iconic costumes in all of science fiction. When Carrie Fisher first donned a metallic “slave bikini” in Return of the Jedi, she had no idea it would become a fashion statement on the cosplay circuit. Numerous celebrities have donned it over the years and Friends worked it in as well. During a talk on childhood crushes, Ross mentions he always had a thing for that bikini when he was younger and Rachel offers to wear it for him. It’s not until the final scene that she does and it makes her look amazing. She flaunts the classic metal top and nice “sash” lower half, baring her great belly and makes her look amazing. True, she mixes up Leia’s “bun hairdo” from the very first movie but that’s understandable given her lack of knowledge of the movies.
Of course, it can’t be that easy. It seems earlier, Ross had a talk with Chandler on the old line of “guys marrying someone like their mom. Thus, when he sees Rachel, he can now only imagine his mother’s face with that outfit and groans about how Chandler ruined his life. Still, for one moment, Rachel made the dreams of a lot of other fanboys come true.
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