A 16-year-old boy walks onto the stage. His dark, curly hair and cheeky smile instantly becomes a favorite among the audience, and he begins to sing Stevie Wonder‘s “Isn’t She Lovely?” in front of the X-Factor judges. The boy is Harry Styles, clad in a white T-shirt, grey cardigan and a thin scarf, and he’s about to become one of the biggest names in the industry. The year is 2010 and now, almost 10 years later, Harry Styles has turned into one of the most impactful forces in the music scene, creating his own path in both fashion and entertainment.
Since his beginning on the UK’s X-Factor, Harry Styles became one of five members of boyband One Direction, and together with band members Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Liam Payne, Styles became a superstar overnight. The band’s huge success resulted in world tours, multiple studio albums and millions of fans all over the world, and when the band split in December 2015, no one knew what would happen. Two years later, Harry Styles embarked on a solo career, releasing his eponymous album Harry Styles which would change everything.
Now, Styles has just released his second studio album titled Fine Line, and we’re taking a look at how he became one of the most prominent figures in fashion, as well as his style evolution and gender-defying approach.
Before he became the Met Gala hosting, trend-setting style icon that he is today, Harry Styles’ One Direction days saw what we’d today refer to as “peak 2010’s” fashion. The Cheshire-born singer frequently sported British labels like Fred Perry and Jack Wills, as well as double-breasted coats and casual blazers. Needless to say, we’ve come a long way since then, and our hair has improved by at least 73%.
Popped collars, polo shirts and skinny jeans became uniform for Styles throughout 2010 and 2011, but in 2012 we began seeing a shift. His logo-centric pieces had been swapped for monochrome tees, and his closet had been stocked with fitted blazers and jackets that worked well with his laid-back style. Looking back, we can see the early beginnings of the Harry Styles we know and love today, catching a glimpse of his tattoos that would soon multiply. Throughout 2013 and 2014, the singer began an era of stripped-back outfits, consistently sporting a plain T-shirt and a trendy jacket, and even began introducing unbuttoned dress shirts to his rotation. We saw a new and more mature Styles, one that differed from the young and playful boy that we were introduced to in 2010, as he began defining his own personal aesthetic and style.
Throughout 2014, Harry’s hair grew longer and his style became more expressive and experimental. Traditional pieces were switched for more eye-catching silhouettes, and the singer began wearing pieces by designers like Saint Laurent on the regular. Hoodies and casual jackets were replaced by two-piece suits, often in vibrant colors and patterns, showing a more refined and interesting side to the singer. 2015 was also the year of the bands inevitable split, following Zayn Malik’s departure, and marked the beginning of what was to become Harry’s solo career. This is also the year we saw Styles beginning to experiment with more traditionally feminine pieces and prints, such as florals, glitter and more.
Following One Direction’s separation, Harry Styles kept a low profile throughout 2016, working on his solo debut. When Harry returned to the spotlight, his long and luscious locks had been chopped, and he came back with a rockstar-like presence that would grow to become one of his most unique style references.
2017 marks the start of Harry Styles’ solo career, and with his self-titled album came a new artist that wasn’t afraid of self-expression. Introducing retro silhouettes like ’70s suits, as well as feminine colors and materials like pink and lace, Harry began to turn heads not just in music, but in fashion as well. In 2017, Harry was also a part of Christopher Nolan‘s movie Dunkirk, and performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai the same year. His career was blossoming, and his song “Sign of the Times” instantly became a hit that would set the tone for his upcoming two years.
Throughout 2017 and 2018, the singer began experimenting with gender-fluid dressing, which resulted in a lot of conversation regarding his sexuality. His aura of sexual ambiguity has sparked conversation for years, and Styles himself has said that he doesn’t want to put a label on it. During his first solo tour, he proudly waved the iconic LGBTQ+ rainbow flag, and spoke about the importance of making people feel included.
During these years, Harry Styles also began to work closely with Alessandro Michele at Gucci, who took the seat as the luxury label’s creative director in 2016. Together, the two became a duo that would continue to blossom, and we saw bold outfits like logo suits and frilly dress shirts, satin blazers and color from top-to-toe, putting Harry Styles at the center of the fashion map. Taking inspiration from icons like Elton John, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and more, Styles developed his own unique aesthetic that would earn him a place as a co-host of the prestigious Met Gala the following year.
With 2019 coming to an end, Harry Styles has just released his highly anticipated sophomore album Fine Line. Throughout the year the star has become one of the biggest fashion icons because of his unique way of self-expression, as well as his flamboyant energy. Earlier this year Styles did an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone and discussed everything from his writing process to his frequently questioned sexuality. “I feel pretty lucky to have a group of friends who are guys who would talk about their emotions and be really open,” the singer said, adding, “My friend’s dad said to me, ‘You guys are so much better at it than we are. I never had friends I could really talk to. It’s good that you guys have each other because you talk about real shit. We just didn’t.’” His painted nails, his rocker-inspired hair, his tattooed arms and bold outfits has made Harry an enigma, and the singer is a catalyst when it comes to gender-fluid dressing. He’s been open about his idea of masculinity and self-expression, aiming to make his fans feel accepted and comfortable with themselves – no matter what. “If you are black, if you are white, if you are gay, if you are straight, if you are transgender — whoever you are, whoever you want to be, I support you. I love every single one of you,” the singer said during a concert in Stockholm.
Having gone from a 16-year-old boy in One Direction, to one of the biggest artists this year, Harry Styles has proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Whether it is serving up looks with Gucci’s Alessandro Michele alongside fellow Met Gala co-hosts Serena Williams, Lady Gaga and Anna Wintour, or posing naked for his latest album art, Harry Styles is only just getting started. There’s no doubt that the star will continue to be one of the biggest influences in our modern-day fashion scene, and the singer will continue to inspire through his unique approach and charismatic energy.
Harry Styles’ sophomore album Fine Line is available now.