Photography: Linda Nylind/The Guardian
Modern life is confusing, and nowhere more so than in fashion. Take Harry Styles. He was voted the best dressed musician in the world last year by GQ, pictured bouncing around in a very bright Gucci tracksuit and neon pink coat at Coachella. He was named one of the best-dressed men on the planet by Glamor magazine in February, pictured in the crushed black velvet number he wore to this year’s Brit Awards.
Styles recently posted a photo of himself in a t-shirt from One Direction’s 2011 tour, prompting fans to anticipate a reunion, with said shirt’s sales plummeting. The Watermelon Sugar singer is a man who could wear a trash bag and look like a million bucks.
So what is her secret? Is it all down to his chiseled good looks, or can an ordinary man measure up without breaking the bank? Armed with some great advice, I hit charity shops and secondhand websites to try and recreate some of Styles’ styles for myself.
My first pit stop is a local charity shop, selling everything from Paul Daniels Magic Show kits to ducky teapots. Will I be lucky to find my first Styles outfit: the slouchy jacket and shiny pants combo he wore to Coachella in 2022?
Browsing the women’s rails, I see a good approximation of the strides. There is a problem. Styles is a sturdy six-foot-two, but even he would struggle with these monsters. I drag them together with a glittery belt, but there’s so much excess glare I could camp under them at Glastonbury.
The fluffy pink jacket from the rail above fits much better. I check the mirror. Styles wig? Yes. Style tattoos? Check. Cue photo shoot.
I’m so busy making love to the camera that I hardly notice the small crowd of coeds demanding to know what I’m up to.
“Oh, we thought of you they were Harry Styles; can we have your autograph? they say, sarcastic.
Similarity of styles: 🍉🍉🍉🍉
Model wears: soft pink charity shop jacket (£17); charity shop metallic pink trousers (£13); charity shop sparkly belt (£6)
Styles is as fashionable on the red carpet as he is on stage. My next outfit is the harlequin jumpsuit he wore to last month’s Grammys. I sew together a women’s overalls from a charity shop clearance sale and a children’s play mat I find in a rubbish bin. I don’t have a red carpet, but as I stroll through the garden, I feel satisfied with my upcycling. Sustainable fashion is de rigueur, after all.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” agrees Amy Powney, creative director of sustainable fashion brand Mother of Pearl. “If you’re a celebrity, you should think, ‘Can another celebrity wear this?’ Or it’s about buying things that you’ll wear over and over again, and when you’re done, resell or recycle.
You are right. There’s no reason Styles can’t borrow the meat suit from Lady Gaga, either That dress by Liz Hurley. He would look fantastic.
In terms of treasure, I doubt anyone would consider my dress – now with an extra hole where it split – anything other than highly inappropriate.
Similarity of styles: 🍉🍉
Model wears: charity shop jumpsuit (£3); discarded mat (free); Crocs orange charity shop (£10)
I recreate Saturday Night Live 2019 dancer Styles by telling eBay I’m looking for an embarrassing outfit to stitch up my friend on his bachelor party. There’s nothing worse than showing up and finding someone wearing the same thing as you…
“I used to hate it,” says Ellis Ranson, who styled Kate and Rio Ferdinand for this year’s British. “Styling is all about pushing the client out of their comfort zone. With Harry, you can go quite far.
I’m certainly out of my comfort zone as she twirls on the side of my bathtub because Guardian photographer Linda assures me it will look artistic. There are risks to being Styles. For example, that time last year when he was hit in the face by a Skittle and Skittles took out a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times reminding fans not to throw candy at him. I hope I don’t slip off as my tights splash my nadgers at every croisé.
Similarity of styles: 🍉🍉🍉
Model is wearing: eBay tutu (£17), Vinted tights (£4), Vinted pink tank top (£4)
To celebrate appearing as the first solo male cover star in Vogue’s 127-year history, Styles wore a suit. To celebrate her appearance as G2’s first cover star in Drag Styles, she entered a wedding dress bidding war on eBay.
It’s windy on my local municipality; now I know how Marilyn Monroe felt standing in front of that air vent. Quite the breeze flies over my nether regions. Neither the pram moms nor the guy doing the squats turn their heads.
In 2017, a study stated that Styles’ good looks depend on the distances between his features. His eyes alone score a 98.15 on a scale where 100 equals perfection. My budget extends to charity shop purchases, but not facial realignment surgery. Maybe Nancy Mitchell, a 24-year-old chiropractic assistant, model, and actress, can tell me what she’s like being super attractive, after TikTok users started saying she looked like Styles.
Related: How Harry Styles became the face of gender-neutral fashion
“We are both Aquarius. We have similar mannerisms. I don’t fit gender stereotypes. Harry wears suits; I’ve always dressed masculine. Our mums are both called Anne. How similar can you get? she says.
In the flesh, Mitchell looks totally like the real McStyles. But the big question is, does she like Styles?
“Harry is an attractive boy, but I don’t think the attraction is superficial. I need to know about it first. Right!
Similarity of styles (me): 🍉🍉🍉
Similarity of styles (Mitchell): 🍉🍉🍉🍉🍉
Wearing: eBay Wedding Dress (£35), Vinted Tuxedo (£6). Wearing: Vinted black crushed velvet jacket (£7), Vinted black flared trousers (£12)
Styles dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz for a 2021 Halloween concert in NYC. This outfit with the granny pants is the most ridiculous ever, even though I strangely feel more comfortable.
Is there room for comedy in fashion? “The funniest fashion does they look comical,” says dapper comedian Tom Allen. “If you look back 200 or 300 years, there was a great sense of playfulness, with puffed sleeves and a crinoline. The people were exuberant and extravagant.
“Elton John and Freddie Mercury were very playfully dressed. Harry Styles is doing it for a new generation. Clothing is often a protest, a way of saying, ‘I’m going to make a positive impact on a world that seems increasingly scary.’”
I certainly look scary in this attire. To lighten the mood, I drink a beer out of my shoe, like Styles did in Australia. Now, my coach is soaked.
Similarity of styles: 🍉🍉🍉🍉🍉
Model wears: checked pattern summer dress (£4), Vinted tights (£4), Vinted white lace shorts (£6), eBay hair clip (£3)
Every outfit that Styles looks amazing in makes me look just as awful. For reference, I should test a different Harry. But Harry who? Houdini? Too flexible. kane? Too bearded. Duke of Sussex? No. If only I could think of another Harry.
“It’s great, because you get away with anything,” says Harry Hill, as I move on to wondering what it’s like to be a Hill instead of a Styles. Hill gets his suits and shirts from a bespoke tailor in Soho. And her yellow Bake Off sweater? “A present from my wife.” I love Hill and could never replace him. All that camera stuff and seven years of training to become a doctor is way too much work.
Similarity to the hill: 🥚🥚
Model is wearing: eBay fancy dress costume (£24)
The dream is to have Styles comment. I send him my photos, but he doesn’t answer because he’s busy on tour. Alright.
I try some other options. Electrician Barry Styles is not answering me. A professional singer from the Midlands, Barry Styles, who has sold more than 26,000 copies of his Wedding Day Songs album, thinks my idea for a Styles parody “is definitely a good idea”, but prefers not to be interviewed.
So I talk to Harri, the 29-year-old South Indian designer behind this year’s most talked about outfit, the blow-up costume Sam Smith wore for the Brits. How do I create one?
“It is made from 100% latex, with 80 panels glued together by hand. There’s a lot of math to get the shape,” Harri tells me during his show at London Fashion Week. “It’s based on my dog, Kai, a seven-year-old pug, and how he sees me from his perspective.”
Similar Harri suits sell for £4,000. In my attempt at an inflatable rickety costume, you don’t want to get anywhere in a hurry. “It’s casual wear to make a statement,” continues Harri.
What would it create if Styles made contact? “I know exactly what,” she says with a smile. “A bright, colorful, deflated pant.”
Smith likeness: 🐕🐕
The model wears: Morphsuits Megamorph Inflatable Costume (£30)
After a week of being Styles, I can hardly bring myself to get dressed. Except she didn’t once wear custom polka dot Gucci pajamas to read a CBeebies bedtime story? Damn! He even looks sexy in his pajamas.
That’s all. I officially retire in my scruffy jeans and hoodie.
Similarity of styles: 🍉🍉
Model is wearing: Vinted men’s red tartan pajamas (£8), Homer Simpson slippers (by the model)
Amy Powney’s Fashion Reimagined film is now in theaters. Tom Allen is on tour now. Tonino! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) by Harry Hill and Steve Brown on tour from April