When one envisions ’90s style, some key pop culture icons most likely come to mind. Among them, Friends’ Rachel Green is possibly one of the most legendary. And this fact is not lost on the actor who played her. In fact, even Jennifer Aniston has a favorite Rachel Green outfit among all the hundreds worn during the show’s 10-year run.
At an Aveeno event back in 2019, where Aniston served on a panel discussing the relationship between the microbiome and healthy skin, the Friends star spoke warmly about her role, as well as the style moment she still can’t get over. “It was a yellow dress that had embroidery on it and my hair was pulled back in a bun,” she recalled. For those who do not classify themselves as Friends historians (shame on you), the frock she’s referring to was worn in the Season 5 episode titled “The One With All The Kissing,” which aired on Oct. 1, 1998, in which Green wears the strapless yellow number on a date.
Interestingly enough, the dress’ delicate floral print, midi-length, and strapless silhouette still hold weight in the fashion world more than 20 years later. This is probably why Aniston — who is a style star in her own right — remembers it so vividly. And she’s not the only one. Friends wardrobe stylist Debra McGuire, to this day, recalls the special story behind the strapless look Aniston still loves so much.
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The dress, along with several other pieces featured on the show, actually came from a popular London boutique called Idol and was purchased when the cast was filming scenes for the Season 4 wedding of Ross Geller (played by David Schwimmer) and Emily Waltham (played by Helen Baxendale). "Jennifer actually loved all the stuff I got for her there," says McGuire in a phone interview with TZR. "Their stuff was just amazing and I stayed in touch with them and bought from them for many years until they closed their business."
With a background in painting, McGuire explains taking on a television show was not necessarily in her realm of interest when she signed on to the project in the early '90s. In fact, she explains that TV at the time left a lot to be desired from a style perspective. "I never really liked the way people looked on television," says McGuire. "I was much more interested in the visual interest in a two-dimensional surface of a television."
To build said visual interest, the artist-turned-costume-designer relied on the handy dandy color wheel one learns as a child. In the first few seasons, the stylist assigned color stories to each character to differentiate them and make them unique. "Each of the characters had a palette," explains McGuire. "Because her character was 'rich girl from Long Island with her dad's credit card,' Jennifer's look had some more leverage and flexibility at the time (of course that changed dramatically). I gave her lots of blues and greens and this warmer, fun palette." The designer adds that the Monica Geller character (played by Courteney Cox) was predominately styled in black, white, gray, and burgundy or red while the Phoebe Buffay character (played by Lisa Kudrow) brought in more patterns for her bohemian aesthetic.
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This strategy obviously changed over the years (hence the yellow frock in question) as the characters, which are now engrained in pop culture history, became more developed and defined. "It wasn't until around the third season that I lightened up on my palette and allowed fashion to come into play," says McGuire. Rachel Green, as die-hard fans know, went from the initial "rich girl from Long Island" scenario to "fashion aficionado working for Ralph Lauren," so her ensembles were tweaked accordingly.
Whatever McGuires strategy was or evolved into, it worked like a charm. To this day, Friends style moments — in particular those involving Rachel Green — remain relevant and relatable to a wide variety of generations and audiences. In fact, in a 2016 interview with The Telegraph, McGuire claimed that people still contact her about the famous yellow Rachel frock. "I think I got thousands of emails over the years just about that dress," she said in the interview.
"It's interesting to look back after [all these years] because everyone still identifies with a particular character, and that is true of every generation that has come since then," says McGuire. "Every four years or so a new 13 or 14 year old will discover the show. It's constant rediscovery. It's never changed. It's never stopped."
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