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'Friends' costume designer reveals the show's most popular outfit

The show's fashion still resonates with viewers today.
Friends costumes, outfits
New book talks about the history of "Friends," and reveals the show's most popular outfit.NBC
/ Source: TODAY

It's been 25 years since "Friends" first aired, but the show (and its fabulous fashion) has stood the test of time. In a new book called "Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era," author Saul Austerlitz breaks down the show's style aesthetic, and reveals the one outfit "Friends" fans just can't stop talking about.

"Generation Friends," by Saul Austerlitz

With the show celebrating its silver anniversary, the characters' wardrobe choices are as ingrained in pop culture as the funny quotes. But, as it turns out, the signature "Friends" style could have turned out very differently.

"Initially, the show’s co-creator Marta Kauffman had been planning to outfit all the characters in T-shirts and jeans. But once (costume designer Debra) McGuire was hired, she pushed for a more aspirational style, in which the characters would look more glamorous than actual 20-something New Yorkers might look," Austerlitz told TODAY Style.

Image: Friends - Season 1
The "Friends" cast always looked stylish.NBC

McGuire handmade much of the clothing early on, and deliberately assigned color schemes to each character.

"She treated the screen as a kind of canvas on which different colors and patterns would interact and combine. They were also meant to each occupy a distinct place on a preppy-to-hippie spectrum, with Chandler at one end and Phoebe at the other," Austerlitz said.

Friends costumes, characters
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay each had their own style within the show.NBC

As InStyle first reported, the show's six main characters each had their own unique look, and the women in particular gravitated toward lots of color: “The female characters were distinguished by their preferred colors. Rachel went with greens and blues; Monica leaned toward red, black and gray. Phoebe preferred yellows and purples, mixed patterns, skirts and unstructured pieces.”

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The show's characters, and their wardrobes, intrigued viewers from the get-go.

"It’s worth remembering that from the very outset, 'Friends' was a show whose popularity and its fashion appeal were intertwined. Fans watched the show and then wanted to visit their hairdresser to get 'The Rachel' (haircut)" Austerlitz said.

Austerlitz said one enthusiastic fan even hired McGuire to design an exact replica of the wedding dress from season two's “The One With the Lesbian Wedding” episode.

Image: Friends
Jennifer Aniston's character, Rachel Green, had an iconic haircut.NBC

Jennifer Aniston's character, Rachel Green, worked in fashion, so she was naturally the style star of the show. And, according to Austerlitz, fans still can't get enough of one of Rachel's outfits in particular.

"Of all the clothing McGuire dressed her characters in, none ever got as passionate a response as the yellow dress with a slit to the mid-thigh that Jennifer Aniston wore in the fifth season episode 'The One With All the Kissing.' Even years later, McGuire still regularly got requests from fans interested in purchasing the dress, and always hated to be the one to tell them that it had been made by a British label called IDOL that had gone out of business years prior," he told TODAY.

Fans repeatedly ask about this one outfit from the show.
Fans repeatedly ask about this one outfit from the show.Birnbaum, Kara (206636498) / NBC

Even though 25 years have passed since "Friends" debuted, Austerlitz expects fans will be enamored with the classic show for quite some time.

"A huge part of the appeal of 'Friends’ is its serving as a template and model to be followed, and I think that young fans look at the clothing these characters wear as a promise of what they hope might be coming down the pike for them," he said.