To end 2017, GQ announced that Tom Hiddleston had been voted its Most Stylish Man of 2017 which is good for Tom Hiddleston, but terrible for the rest of us who know it isn’t true.
Which isn’t to say Hiddleston dresses badly. Far from it, I know that. Ultimately, the actor was chosen via an elimination-type series that saw him win out through six rounds and 63 eliminations, so this was strictly the fault of GQ voters, and the publication was merely a pawn in their dark, sinister game.
Especially since we all know the most stylish anyone, anywhere, is Harry Edward Styles.
2017 was a big year for Harry. His turn in Dunkirk was hailed with critical praise, and his self-titled solo debut delivered an array of ballads, rock songs, and 2017’s incarnation of Britpop. Videos for the album’s corresponding singles saw him flying through the sky and engaging in a cupcake war in a school cafeteria.
And then there were the suits.
Harry’s advanced sartorial leanings have been evident since before Zayn left One Direction. Styles’ penchant for skinny jeans, billowy blouses, and headscarves gave way to longer, Jagger-like locks, Yves Saint Laurent boots, and Gucci floral suits. At the 2014 American Music Awards, he was hailed and criticized for his aesthetic similarities to the Quaker Oats man, while he performed “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” at the 2014 X Factor finale in a Marc Jacobs flamingo print, which makes sense if you’re at barely-20-something multi-millionaire. But in an era that sees his peers in white t-shirts and ill-fitted tapered jeans (see: Justin Bieber) or worse, referencing their heavy necklaces in pop songs slagging off their former band (see: Liam Payne), Harry’s style is extraordinary. Especially since he’s managed to evolve without throwing shade at his former self.
Currently, Styles’ professional dress exists under the umbrella of printed Gucci suits—a trend we should’ve seen coming when he was photographed in early 2016 wearing the same. But where most of us tend to categorize ourselves and our life phases by how we dressed, Harry’s been unique in marrying his obvious allegiance to blazers and trousers with who we used to be. He continues (as proven by his latest turn on Corden’s Carpool Karaoke) to wear printed button-ups from the pages of 2015. At a recent spotting at the airport, he paired a simple t-shirt with velvet trousers and Vans. And, despite the regret some of us felt (hello) following our own hat stages, Harry continues to fly his flag. Like with his music, Styles consistently refuses to denounce his former selves and instead builds on them musically and aesthetically, making it okay for his fans to do the same.
Which is a big deal when you’re Harry Fucking Styles.
At 23, the guy has already hosted a late-night show on behalf of his pal. Within weeks of his first tour announcement, he added a second one to the mix—in support of an an album that consists of only ten songs. Onstage, he drapes himself in the LGBTQ flag and encourages audience members to be themselves and to feel safe in that revelation. In short, Styles’ accessibility exists on a different plain than most pop stars, which makes his aesthetic choices even more interesting. Under the umbrella of high-end labels, he experiments with fit and print and gender norms, and incorporates his past with his present which gives anybody following to do the same. His clothing, like his music, tells a story. He is the amalgamation of selves, one print and blouse at a time. He isn’t the fruits of a stylist, trying to get their client the role as Bond.
And that’s not to say Tom Hiddleston doesn’t dress well. Like most people, he wears what looks nice and what works and what’s in. He isn’t offensive in his sartorial choices, and while I think it’s bizarre that I’ve never seen him in jeans, he certainly knows how to wear a suit. But unlike Tom, Harry’s suits say something. They connote risk and a sense of adventure and the freedom that comes with knowing one’s self. And to me, that’s what makes somebody the most stylish.
That, and a last name that includes a variation of the word.