What would Phoebe Buffay, TV’s favorite hippie, be wearing in 2020?

By Marissa Lee.

If there’s ever a moment I need a break from the world (which in 2020 comes about once a week), I turn shamelessly toward Netflix and oftentimes into an hours-long marathon of TV’s most non-committal, easy to watch creations. Among the top choices are shows like Sex and the City and The Office – or Jersey Shore if it’s been a particularly bad week. However, never usurped for the number one spot is Friends – a show that, with all of its “would-never-fly-on-TV-today” jokes and “so-bad-you-gotta-love-them” characters, is, at least in this author’s mind, unparalleled.

My favorite character from the show – and one of my favorite TV characters of all time – is the lovably eccentric and spacey Phoebe Buffay. One of the six main cast members of the show, Phoebe’s character is that of a free-spirited oddball who has an original story to boot, making her all the more endearing. She’s always dressed in whatever she sees fit – which is often an impeccably styled and accessorized ensemble featuring some seriously cool (and likely thrifted) threads. Phoebe’s fashion moments are effortless, flowy, and the stuff of 1990’s flea market dreams.

Phoebe’s wardrobe underwent an evolution over the show’s 10 seasons, morphing from non-committal thrifted finds in season 1 to calculated yet eccentric ensembles by the series’ closing season. As a large propagator of skirts and dresses, she was always sporting a hem that nearly grazed her ankles, but never hid her footwear, which was more often than not a pair of patent leather boots (presumably vegan).

What I believe to be the most notable aspect of Phoebe Buffay’s style is her record in accessorizing. It was never just earrings and a necklace for the masseuse come part-time musician. Her hair was often styled in an intricate updo or at least in a pair of braids, and her skills in accessories often permeated just the typical areas. She often wore hair clips, hair gems, scrunchies, ribbons, headbands, scarves – the list goes on. Moreover, if she was not sporting accessories in her hair, her earrings and necklace most always matched as a set, and her fingers were always dressed in her extensive ring collection. Although she may not have been able to sing or ride a bike, the woman sure knew her way around a jewelry box.

So now, as fashion glides away from the rigid techwear scene and synthetic haze of hype-driven streetwear, we see trends tip ever gently in favor of that eclectic flair, reminiscent of Ms. Buffay. Young and emerging designers like Charlotte Knowles and Helena Manzano are getting creative with their silhouettes and fabrics, throwing a beatnik wrench in luxury fashion’s hype plans, thus making things exciting once more.

Among these young eclectic-luxury brands is Berlin-based Ottolinger, whose deconstructed garments, such as the Multicolor Strappy dress pictured here, offer an anti-commercial and fearlessly destructive challenge to luxury fashion’s status quo. We like to think Phoebe would see past the price tag and boldly sport the pieced-together dress paired with a muted yellow cardigan, like this one from Los Angeles-brand giu giu, although Phoebe most definitely found hers at the Salvation Army. Seeing to the mask factor that has infiltrated the world’s wardrobes, Phoebe would seize yet another opportunity to accessorize, making her own Phoebe-fied face covering out of leftover fabric, likely at the hands of this Collina Strada guide on how to fashion your own face mask.

A master of clashing prints, Phoebe’s bag of choice is the Tommy Beaded Bag by accessories mastermind Staud (a brand after her own heart), which she pairs with vintage combat boots. Ever the accessorizer, Phoebe sports vintage earrings she inherited from her grandma, which I like to think look similar to the kitsch-inspired Gold Jelly Beans Earrings from Italian jeweler Safsafu. As a final touch, Phoebe dons her signature rings – one being the Gold and Blue Suede Ring from LA-based Mondo Mondo, and the other likely a the Fendi Maxi Logo Ring, which she found on a stroll through Central Park after it had slipped off someone’s finger. She decided it was a good omen and kept it, as she believes the FF stands for ‘friends forever’ – because there’s nothing Phoebe cares for more than her friends (especially Joey).