March 14 brought the 63rd annual Grammy Awards and an abundance of unforgettable performances and looks, with one that particularly stands out: Harry Styles. Opening the awards ceremony with a black leather jacket-and-pant combo, the artist led fans to speculate that a new Styles-era is coming.
On Sunday evening, Styles performed one of his most popular songs from Fine Line — “Watermelon Sugar” — with a new twist. Dev Hynes, known better by his stage name Blood Orange, who had joined Styles onstage, enhanced the hit single by adding instrumental solos and background vocals, altering the original sound of the radio-version. While it can be argued that there are far better songs than “Watermelon Sugar” on the album, the star-studded Grammy release was a richer and far more relaxed version of the original.
But what does Harry Styles’ Grammys attire mean for his future work and fans?
One similarity lies throughout his latest clothing: Camp. His boas on Sunday and outfits of the recent past are reminiscent of Elton John’s lavish concert costumes and show us his vibrant and expressive style. Styles’ switch from his colorful red carpet outfit to something not part of his recent aesthetic was a complete shock and foreshadows the upcoming of different types of work from the artist.
Styles’ various style eras go all the way back to when he was a member of One Direction. His “frat boy” look back then was reminiscent of the basic college man, complete with long, slicked-back hair — but his style has clearly evolved. With each era since then, his clothes have changed. The style and vibrancy of his music and messages change with each era as well, as his Fine Line period brings along more “pop”-songs, yet carries lyrics that are more deep and thoughtful than ever before. This aligns with Styles’ new clothing choices — as they illustrate his identity in the same way his new music reflects his outlook on life — and how he has matured in his songwriting. Given this, Styles’ performance of “Watermelon Sugar” on March 14 with the new soft-rock vibe fits perfectly with his outfits’ fitting ambiance of the performance.
The album Fine Line, which released originally in December 2019, includes lighthearted movements and songs that are full of raw emotion. The album cover features Styles wearing high-waisted white pants and a pink blouse, and since this release, the artist has gotten even more comfortable wearing what he wants to wear. While he had not previously allowed others’ perceptions of him to change what he wore, it seems as though he has since become more comfortable in dressing in what makes him feel best. From his dress on the Vogue December 2020 cover to his glittery suit jacket in his “Treat People With Kindness” music video, Styles’ retro and eccentric style has become central to his aesthetic and how fans see him.
With Styles’ decision to wear a different type of clothing for his performance comes the idea that a new Harry Styles era is on its way — and with it, the possibility of new work. Since his fan base always tries to copy his look, one wonders what this could mean for the popularity of certain styles in the future. Some fans have completely altered their wardrobes to match his Fine Line outfits, causing this aesthetic to become more mainstream.
Styles’ new style of the dark with a bit of flair could lead to his followers dressing in a more slick style, reminding me of the transition of popular music groups of the 70s, as the disco and hippie style was pushed aside in favor of a darker and smoother aesthetic exhibited by some popular rock ‘n’ roll groups in the 80s. Only time (and more sightings of Harry Styles’ new clothing) will tell.