How Harry Styles really developed his fashion sense

Looking back at Harry Styles’ outfit choices in the early days of One Direction, many would never have guessed that he would eventually become a style icon. The former boy band crooner used to not be the type to dress up as he was usually dressed in polo shirts and high supras. It was only after a few years in show business that he began experimenting with different looks and making bold clothing choices.

By the time One Direction disbanded and Styles went solo, he had already made a name for himself in the fashion world. GQ described it as one of the most eccentric styles out there because it’s difficult to predict what he’ll wear on any given day. Styles also became Alessandro Michele’s muse for Gucci. “Harry has an incredible fashion sense,” the creative director said in a statement per Teen Vogue. “The idea of ​​collaborating came to me one day while we were on the phone: I suggested we create a ‘dream wardrobe’ with him.”

While it seemed like Styles didn’t have a handle on his style in his early One Direction days, he said he was interested in fashion from a young age. In fact, it was a school play that catalyzed his love of dressing up.

Harry Styles’ love of fashion started at school

In 2020, Harry Styles became Vogue magazine’s first-ever male cover star. At the time, he explained that his passion for fashion dates back to his childhood. “As a kid, I definitely liked costumes,” he told the outlet. Styles explained that attending school plays also influenced his style development — starting with being cast as the church mouse named Barney. “I was very young and wore tights for that,” he told Vogue. “I remember wearing tights was crazy to me. And that was maybe where it all started!”

His mother, Anne Twist, also likely contributed to Styles’ fashion advancement. In an appearance on British talk show Lorraine, Twist said she loved dressing Harry and his sister Gemma growing up. “I think maybe it had something to do with it because I’ve always been a big fan of doing costumes with them when they were smaller, which Gemma hated, but Harry always embraced it,” she shared.

Styles also credits his musical heroes — including Prince, David Bowie, Elvis, Freddie Mercury, and Elton John — for inspiring him to dress freely. “As a kid, it was absolutely overwhelming,” he said on Lorraine. “Now I’m going to wear something that feels really extravagant and I don’t feel crazy wearing it.”

Harry Styles on the criticism of his fashion choices

What many love about Harry Styles’ personal style is that it’s never limited to just men’s clothing. But he’s also drawn flak for his fashion choices. Alongside the Vogue cover story, which sees Styles wearing a dress, is conservative commentator Candace Owens tweeted: “There is no society that can survive without strong men… Bring back manly men.”

Meanwhile, Billy Porter evoked the fact that a white cis man was on the cover of Vogue and not the people who paved the way for him. “I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue has featured Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on its cover for the first time,” Porter told The Sunday Times in October 2021. “It’s politics for me. That is my life. I had to fight my whole life to get to the point where I could wear a dress to the Oscars and not get shot now. All he has to do is be white and straight.” Porter later apologized to Styles on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, explaining that it was never his intention to drag his name into a clearly systemic issue.

Styles has yet to deal with the criticism that’s being thrown at him, but he said he never puts himself in a box when it comes to fashion. “It’s like everything — every time you put up barriers in your own life, you’re only limiting yourself,” he told Vogue for the cover story. “It is so much fun to play with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means – it just becomes this extended part of creating something.”