Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2022 print issue of Showstopper Magazine.
Sooo we love to talk about Harry Styles, but can we please focus on Harry’s style for a second? We’ve looked to iconic celebrity styles in the past for their brand dedication or their love of a color, but one thing that makes Harry’s looks so seemingly effortless is how he can blend his inspirations, eras, people, media, with his own personality and presence that make everything he wears so Harry.
For some, Harry might be one iconic style like that incredible pink suit from his Today performance in 2017 or his three Gucci feather boa looks from the Grammys in 2021. But Harry goes through trends and style changes like anyone else and looking at all of his looks from boyband skinny jeans to Peter Pan collars shows us a lot about how his music and expression blend a lot with his fashion
THE TONED-DOWN (HARRY STYLES)
Harry styles admitted in his Better Homes & Gardens cover interview this year that he felt like he needed to play it safe when he released his debut album if he wanted to be taken seriously. We can see a lot of that attitude in his looks as well. It wasn’t all quiet styling, though.
Harry Styles and its tour definitely showcased Harry’s love of a Gucci suit, especially the suits with intricate embroidery and detailing. While there are many many Gucci suits to choose from, we can’t help but love the custom blue and green jacquard double-breasted suit that makes an appearance in the “Kiwi” music video.
We wouldn’t see some of Harry’s most iconic looks until his sophomore album Fine Line came out two years later, but there’s still so much signature Harry in his debut looks that separated him from his One Direction days (though cool jackets and designer accessories were making their way into his wardrobe long before One Direction split) and showed off his personality. Not anyone can casually wear jacquard all the time!
Bold colors, a signature style that blended rock & roll with genderfluid fashion, and chunky rings were obvious markers of Harry’s styles in 2017, and they would only evolve over time. We can see his confidence as a solo artist grow as his style gets bolder.
THE FLARE (FINE LINE)
It’s hard not to think of Fine Line as Harry’s “trouser era.” So many of Harry’s best looks from Love on Tour and his TV appearances feature flared trousers in a variety of colors from the pop of pink on the Fine Line album cover to a rainbow of pastels, sparkling trousers, and occasionally the jacquard we saw so much of before. Fine Line was like an explosion of Harry for fans. It seemed like it was a blast for Harry as well. While Harry Styles was shorter and more toned down, Fine Line was expansive and loud in sound and style. It’s really no wonder that “Watermelon Sugar” was everywhere in the summer of 2020.
Harry commented directly on his transformation between his first two albums in his Vogue December cover interview in 2020. “I was very much finding out what my sound was as a solo artist,” he says. “I can see all the places where it almost felt like I was bowling with the bumpers up. I think with the second album I let go of the fear of getting it wrong and…it was really joyous and really free. I think with music it’s so important to evolve—and that extends to clothes and videos and all that stuff. That’s why you look back at David Bowie with Ziggy Stardust or the Beatles and their different eras—that fearlessness is super inspiring.”
“Pink is the only true rock & roll color.”
The rock & roll influences that Harry mentions were definitely there during his solo debut and the pink pantsuit is classic 70s Mick Jagger. Harry even quoted The Clash’s Paul Simon in his Rolling Stone cover interview in April 2017. “Pink is the only true rock & roll color.”
If you think Harry Styles and think ’70s and ’80s looks, then it’s probably the Fine Line era filling your head. “Watermelon Sugar” and its beach picnics in literal rose-colored glasses and bold colors and patterns make us want to wear crochet tops as much as “Falling” makes us want to wear dramatic plissé tops with huge trains.
This kind of expression and dress-up was new to Harry’s public persona and what he let fans see, but he shared with Vogue that dressing up and exploring fashion is something that has always made him excited. “As a kid I definitely liked fancy dress,” he said, sharing that he was once cast as a church mouse named Barney in a school play. “I was really young, and I wore tights for that. I remember it was crazy to me that I was wearing a pair of tights. And that was maybe where it all kicked off!”
Now, Harry is a professional actor as well as a pop staple. He appears as Starfox in Marvel’s The Eternals (2021) and will appear as Jack in Don’t Worry Darling this September. Trying on new personas is all part of the job, and Harry’s love for experimenting with clothes means that slipping into every role is a new bit of excitement. “I like playing dress-up in general,” he told Vogue.
COMFORT (HARRY’S HOUSE)
Finding the confidence and security to wear the bold styles that are Harry’s signature seems like the peak of what he could accomplish fashion-wise, but as Harry’s third album Harry’s House came out this summer, it was actually a move toward the cozy that marks his creative freedom.
The promo images for Harry’s House feature plenty of color (we can’t keep our eyes off those chunky beaded Éliou necklaces!), and polka dots and patterned sweaters are all fair game, but it’s not as loud as Fine Line.
Harry shared with Better Homes & Gardens that Harry’s House is his “most intimate album.” “I just want to make stuff that is right, that is fun, in terms of process, that I can be proud of for a long time,” he said, “that my friends can be proud of, that my family can be proud of, that my kids will be proud of one day.”
Creating Harry’s House is part of Harry’s exploration of himself and his redefining of “home” during the pandemic, especially during lockdowns and quarantines when he couldn’t tour. “I realized that that home feeling isn’t something that you get from a house; it’s more of an internal thing. You realize that when you stop for a minute,” he said to Better Homes & Gardens.
If you stop for a minute, you can see this in Harry’s fashion, too. His fashion is internal. No matter what he wears, there’s Harry in it. The patterns and designers might shift from album to album, but whether he’s in a feather boa or a knit sweater with a giant duck head on it, you can see his love of classic silhouettes and the rock & roll sensibility that informs his music and his stage presence.
Harry put it best when he told Vogue, “you can never be overdressed. There’s no such thing. The people that I looked up to in music—Prince and David Bowie and Elvis and Freddie Mercury and Elton John—they’re such showmen. As a kid it was completely mind-blowing. Now I’ll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don’t feel crazy wearing it. I think if you get something that you feel amazing in, it’s like a superhero outfit. Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with.”