Since the beginning of Harry Styles’s career, style has played more than a nominal part in his popularity. As a member of one of the biggest boy bands ever, Styles went through quite the evolution, from baby-faced heartthrob in pastel polos to tattooed, long-haired rocker in black jeans and Chelsea boots. But it wasn’t until One Direction went on hiatus in 2015 that Harry started to become a fashion icon, swapping ripped tees and cardigans for haute couture. First to go was the source of his pop-prince power, as Harry chopped off his hair in 2016 for his role in Dunkirk. Then, a 2017 Rolling Stone cover introduced “Harry Styles’s New Direction,” which apparently looked like this:
This took a bit of getting used to, but actually, the tone set in these early photos was closer than perhaps anyone expected to Harry’s personal fashion sense, which became abundantly clear as he embarked on the second leg of his first solo world tour. Over the course of 60 shows, Harry debuted an ostentatious, wide-ranging personal style that included everything from custom suits to ruffled bell bottoms and sequined blouses. Throughout his many months on tour, he rarely wore the same suit twice, and fans—myself included—quickly became fascinated with the increasingly bold looks. “harry styles wore one of the top 3 best harry styles outfits tonight this is so huge i mean do you even care?!?!?!” tweeted D’Arcy Carden, actress on The Good Place and noted Harry Styles adorer. She was not alone in her hype.
Tragically, the tour is now over: Harry played his final show in Los Angeles on Saturday. While this is a sad and unavoidable truth—the onslaught of looks has ended—it’s also a positive thing. Because now I’ve had enough downtime to create the Harry Styles Style Matrix: a chart highlighting some of Harry’s most iconic looks of the year, the best of the tour’s pink, black-and-white, patterned, and glittery suits.
Within each category, there are specific suits that must be paid further attention. From the mariachi jackets to the pussy bows (to a kilt, even!), here’s a quadrant-by-quadrant analysis of Harry’s finest style moments.
The Black-and-White Quadrant
Most Compelling Argument for Digging Up Your Old Bedazzler
Not every outfit can be floral, sequined, or neon, and actually, Harry’s takes on classic black-and-white suits ended up as some of the most fun of the tour. A plain suit was as rare a sighting on Harry’s tour as a dry eye during “Sign of the Times,” but when he did default to black and white, silver McQueen boots or a mystifyingly huge safety pin clasp kept things interesting. That said, nothing jazzes up boring black like copious amounts of glitter, as demonstrated by the custom Gucci number Harry wore in Hong Kong. Those lightning bolts make me want to run to the nearest Joann Fabrics and start putting rhinestones on everything I own, which I have to assume was the goal. Is Harry under the thumb of Big Bedazzler? I support it, if so.
Best Cruella de Vil Impression
For his two nights in Spain, Harry chose to wear two black-and-white suits from the Palomo Spain Pre-Spring 2018 collection, both of which seem directly inspired by Glenn Close’s looks as Cruella de Vil in the 1996 live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians. The first, a personal favorite, was a sequined houndstooth fabric that seemed equally perfect for entertaining an arena and chasing down rogue puppies. The second also eerily emulated Cruella’s style with a cropped pinstriped jacket and ultra-wide collar. Frankly, he could do a lot worse, as style inspiration goes—just as long as his hair isn’t affected. (The Barcelona concert resulted in one of the best Harry hair moments ever, so I think he’s safe.)
Award for Fearless Commitment to Dental Hygiene
Anyone who brushes their teeth in the morning (so, hopefully everyone) knows that doing it at the right point in your routine is essential. Brush before breakfast, and coffee will taste disgusting. Brush after getting dressed, and you risk getting toothpaste on your clothes. Harry Styles, though, has a long history of laughing in the face of common sense, prioritizing pearly whites above all else. In 2013, he posted a Vine while brushing his teeth, and was scolded by a water firm for leaving the tap running and wasting water. On this year’s tour, Harry posted two pictures of him brushing his teeth while wearing unimaginably expensive Gucci suits, a move that I imagine caused his stylists to go into cardiac arrest. What happens if a speck of toothpaste drops onto that giant black velvet collar, mere moments before the curtain rises?! Sure, his teeth may be blindingly white, but at what cost? AT WHAT COST?
Most Outlandishly Outlander Moment
One kilt is good. Five kilts is better.
The Patterned Quadrant
Color Coordination Most Likely to Show Up on Your Cousin’s Pinterest Board
Dressing to the nines for 60 shows is enough of a feat for one man, but Harry’s small band of musicians and backup singers accepted the challenge just as readily as their fashionable frontman. To say the band dressed to match Harry isn’t quite accurate—that brings to mind images of those amazing/horrible matching Destiny’s Child outfits. It’s more accurate to compare Harry and his band to those images you see on wedding Pinterest boards, where a bride tells her bridesmaids to wear “whatever you want, just do fall colors” and then everyone shows up looking magically coordinated, but not like they tried too hard.
The group pictures started modestly, but they got much more daring in no time.
Future brides, take note! A black-and-white Beetlejuice suit can really pull a whole party together.
Most Likely to Endanger Gotham City
This is cheating a bit, since this suit didn’t actually make the rounds during the 2018 tour, but it cannot be ignored—I must discuss it! Harry wore this absolute atrocity—that’s right, I said it—both on the Manchester 2017 tour date and at the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival. Don’t get me wrong, I love the effort. We respect a big swing around here, but this is hideous. I can only assume he’s hoping to land a Joker spinoff of his own, or at least a cameo in the next Suicide Squad. The addition of the sheer blouse takes this from misguided to historically terrible, and as such it is a personal favorite. Jared Leto could never.
Most Balls-to-the-Wall (er, Thrust Away From the Wall) Outfit Choice
Male rompers? Amateur hour. For two stops on the world tour (and a few memorable TV appearances), Harry stepped out in a double-breasted Charles Jeffrey jumpsuit, accordion pleats and all. The dark green pinstriped version, a fan favorite, was appropriately chosen for the Dublin concert following its Late Late Show debut. Then in Sacramento, just when we thought we’d come to terms with the weird feelings evoked by these outfits, a sparkly silver version emerged, and with it a truly iconic photo.
That right there is a man who isn’t afraid of awkward crotch draping.
Suit Most Likely to Be Stolen in the Next Ocean’s Movie
Listen, Gucci treats our boy right, but we need to take a moment to salute the rare but epic McQueen contributions to this tour. According to the Harry Styles Fashion Archive—a truly essential guide for me on this journey—the pattern on Harry’s Melbourne suit is inspired by Gustav Klimt, and described as an “art-nouveau inspired Eve print.” Up close, you can see that the print is made up of women’s faces, who seem to be clutching their cheeks and definitely whispering things like, “I used to think black nail polish was stupid, but somehow he makes it work!” Put this suit in the Louvre where it belongs.
Best Tribute to Shania Twain
As soon as Harry stepped onstage in an Alexander McQueen cheetah print suit in London, I clocked it as an automatic top-five tour outfit. And that was before I realized that it was a tribute to the ultimate cheetah print queen. “I think [in] both music and fashion, [my] main influence was probably Shania Twain,” Harry told Entertainment Tonight in November. Just take a moment to think about that. Along with the suit—as if that wasn’t enough—there were several other nods to Shania throughout the world tour: “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” plays in the arena before every show, and Harry and Kacey Musgraves dueted to “You’re Still the One” in June.
For the next world tour, I would like Harry Styles to replicate a few other Shania looks. Bright orange trench coat with matching cowboy hat, you’re up.
The Pink Quadrant
The Elle Woods Award for Commitment to the Color Pink
Pink suits are having a moment. I’m not saying that Harry Styles is solely responsible for that, but yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. First, let us look back on Harry’s first solo Today show appearance on May 9, 2017.
Since then, he’s upgraded from simple millennial pink to various other iterations, including a hot pink Gucci suit in Bologna (seen above) and a salmon Alexander McQueen with embroidered roses in Dallas.
Perhaps best of all was this custom pastel Gucci in Bangkok, which looks like it’s literally just made of sparkles.
Whoever said Zayn was the most fashionable member of One Direction was seriously disturbed.
Best Iteration of “Tablecloth, but Make It Fashion”
Harry loves his tablecloth couture. From a May 2017 appearance in a sort of dishrag-chic getup to his first Gucci campaign, Harry can’t get enough gingham and plaid—something he apparently shares with another menswear icon, Cate Blanchett.
Here’s where I make a bad joke about Harry Styles being a full meal. Let’s just skip to the part where we all pretend it didn’t happen.
Ultimate Prince Harry Moment
This is it, this is the best suit. It exists at the center of the Styles Style Matrix: black-and-white pants and shirt; pink velvet jacket; embroidered crystal patterns; gold sequined accents throughout. He looks like the Barbie version of a Nutcracker prince—only after your little brother got ahold of him and added black nail polish and tattoos with a Sharpie. Harry wore this Gucci creation for his first London appearance in April, and there was no topping it. This is the best look of 2018; it is the best look of 2019; I am also looking forward to 2065, when I dub this outfit the best look of the year for the 47th straight time and my grandkids ask their parents, “Hey, what’s up with grandma?” (A nearly-as-perfect black version of this outfit debuted at the end of the tour, but more on that later.)
The Glitter Quadrant
Best Willy Wonka Audition
In the many weeks that I spent compiling this list of Harry’s best suits, various coworkers stopped by my desk and asked about the photos I was scrolling through. And of all the suits I showed them (after explaining that this was now my life’s purpose), this one elicited by far the most horrified reactions. “Why would he wear something like that?” one coworker asked. “That looks scratchy,” said another. I can’t explain their clear lack of taste, since this custom Gucci creation is a masterpiece, but I can explain Harry’s reasoning behind it. It seems to me that he’s planning on following up his role in Dunkirk with a starring role in the recently-announced Willy Wonka remake. This is obviously an audition—he didn’t enter the stage via somersault, but the amount of candy backstage at his shows is a clear sign. No one would risk a neck rash from that sparkly blouse unless they had a starring role on the brain. Also? He hasn’t even been cast yet, but he’s already a better Willy Wonka than Johnny Depp was.
Best “Reclaiming My Fringe” Moment
Harry’s choice to go full mariachi-by-way-of–Midnight Cowboy for both Mexico City stops was a bold one for numerous reasons, namely because most pale, waifish white men do not look particularly at ease in sparkly fringed jackets.
But Harry Styles is no ordinary waifish white man, and all it took was an air of confidence and a dangerously unbuttoned shirt to keep this from veering into costume territory.
These two looks were ultimately some of the tour’s best, but let’s take a moment to consider the singer’s real reason for risking cultural appropriation and Elvis comparisons. Right now, if one performs a Google search for “Harry Styles fringe,” pages upon pages of gravity-defying hairstyles emerge—but so does the real motivation behind these suits. This is a man attempting to reverse the narrative and reclaim his fringe, swapping pompadours for haute couture. It’s a noble, brave attempt, even if it’s probably a doomed one.
Most Versatile Take on the Pussy-Bow Blouse
The infamous pussy-bow blouse returned to the public eye in 2016 when Melania Trump wore it to a debate and forced the internet to explode, as it is wont to do on a daily basis. Harry, on the other hand, must’ve seen it and thought, “Hm,” because over the course of 89 shows—not to mention during early album press—he became a pussy-bow fiend. Along with a stretch of five different sequined blouses during his final U.S. dates, Harry wore pussy bows with more than a third of his outfits on the second leg of the tour, because apparently nothing goes with a giant collar and giant bell bottoms like a giant bow.
Best Reward for Months of Obsession
It wasn’t until after pitching this piece (informally, on Twitter) that I realized the Harry Styles tickets I’d bought months prior were for his final tour date. As I scrolled through a 90-page Google Doc filled with patterns and ruffles and bell bottoms, I thought about what I wanted from Harry’s final show of the tour. Above all else, I decided, I wanted glitter. I wanted sparkles visible from space, not to mention from my own nosebleed seats at the top of the Forum.
On the first night of the L.A. shows, before my own concert date, my worst fears were realized. For his penultimate suit, Harry emerged in a teal velvet Gucci suit with a wide collar and bell bottoms. It was perfectly lovely, and painfully boring.
“Please, give me sequins,” I prayed (to my Harry Styles voodoo doll) as I entered the arena the following night. “I’ll take floral. Anything pink. Even one of those fucking jumpsuits. Just nothing boring.” Quotes from Harry’s songs decorated the walls of the arena, including the “Sign of the Times” lyric, “Welcome to the final show / Hope you’re wearing your best clothes.” Right back at ya, Harold. Finally, the lights went down, my eardrums burst with the sound of a million screaming teens, and then ... my faith was rewarded. With sequins.
Take a moment to let the majesty of these outfits sink in—not only because such instantly iconic fashion seems increasingly rare, but because it may be a long time before we get the next installment of Styles style. According to Harry, he’s “gonna go away for a little while,” and will re-emerge in the future with another album, another tour, and, if we’re lucky, another series of wild looks. What’s crazier than giant bell bottoms, countless ruffles, absurd amounts of glitter, and the occasional black manicure? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.