Could we be any less surprised?
After years of speculation and at least one highly convincing fake trailer, HBO Max confirmed a Friends reunion in the form of an unscripted special, 14 years since it originally went off the air. That means, among other things, the return of Chandler Bing — the fictional but nevertheless unrivalled men’s fashion influencer of the 1990s.
Long after he had finally married Monica, moved into the ad industry and fathered twin babies, the character played by Matthew Perry has continued to fascinate and draw imitators based on his wardrobe.
Back in 2015, for example, Buzzfeed was urging readers to “Stop everything and dress like 90’s Chandler Bing,’ poking gentle but affectionate fun at his super loud ties and baggy sportsjackets.
More recently, GQ UK noted the influence of the Friends cast, and Chandler Bing in particular, on the 2019 Fall menswear season, from Aloha shirts to wearing long sleeves over short sleeves.
ScreenRant recognized that, like all of us, Bing’s style included as many misses as it did hits. For every smart crewneck sweater and half-zip sweater, there was a loose-fit vest or Hawaiian shirt.
This gets at what made the character so relatable, at least to me and other guys I know. Even if we wanted more female attention, no one wanted to be Joey, the handsome idiot.
And while Ross was an accurate reflection of our personal geekiness, Chandler was closer to who we secretly aspired to be — smart, funny and not afraid to dress in a way that seemed deliberate, sharp but also relaxed.
A recent post on CheatSheet summed it up well:
Chandler also has a look that’s a little bit less polished and more playful; those who want to emulate Friends for an instagrammable moment, but don’t love Rachel’s perfected style or Ross’s salmon stiffness can choose to opt for Bing.
I also felt that, consciously or not, Chandler Bing’s wardrobe softened over the course of Friends’ 10-year run from almost natty to ultra-casual: there are a lot more sweatshirts than dress shirts in those final seasons.
The reunion will bring us a Chandler Bing who has had time to grow as a husband, father and man. What might that look like? I have a few ideas:
The Chandler Bing Cardigan
Sometimes dismissed as a little too ‘Mr Rogers,’ the cardigan continues to make a comeback, according to The Guardian, among others. This casual zip-up cardigan from Fanhang screams ‘Chandler Bing’ to me, and would work well in either a professional or personal setting.
The Chandler Bing Chinos
“OH. MY GOD,” Chandler’s ex-girlfriend Janis might scream if she looked back at the fit of his 90s-era pants. I think in 2020 he’d opt for a more fitted look and possibly a slightly darker tone than those that were popular 20 years ago. These J.Crew Mercantile mens slim-fit stretch chino casual pants would be comfortable but still flexible enough for the occasional Chandler Bing victory dance.
The Chandler Bing Shoe
Chandler Bing wore loafers in the early season, and was one of the first guys I remember seeing on TV who proved you could make them work at a young age. He was also early to the all-white sneaker, but today I think he would opt for something that hits the perfect middle ground — something that would work in a boardroom but also on a carefree stop at Central Perk. He couldn’t go wrong with these DADAWEN men’s canvas lace-up oxford shoes, or something similar.