Style Inspiration: Harry Styles

I had a ridiculous amount of fun researching and writing this article. I’ve never written about my icons nor attempted to imitate their look prior to this piece. I hope you guys enjoy reading/viewing half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The second part of my two part series inspired by the Royal Wedding covers an major style inspiration of mine and how he influences what I’d wear to my Royal Honeymoon . Before continuing into this, if you haven’t alreadycheck out my short re-introduction on what’s been going on with my life over the past 5 months. and my piece on how to royally honeymoon in Northern Italy

I. Inspiration

By now you’ve read Part I of my spring/summer 2018 style inspo, which is phenomenal because I can jump into the fun part. Today’s outfit is inspired by none other than modern-day rock n’ roll icon, Harry Styles.

If you pause a moment before continuing on, you can hear the twitter fingers getting warmed up for the flames about to be thrown my way. Say the name Harry Styles and instantly either this or this pops into mind; however, what probably doesn’t come to mind is this or this. Back in April 2018, Vogue wonderfully captured Style’s fashion evolution from when he first became famous as part of British boy band One Direction to a year after launching his solo career. It’s a very comprehensive photo journalistic piece covering almost 7 years of fashion which I recommend skimming through. Nevertheless, I’ve gone ahead and selected a few from their article (as well as adding some of my own) to a mini slide show you can view in the article below, or open in another tab by clicking here



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The massive change in his look between the ages of 16 and 24 is amazing. The first photo (from Nov 2010) when he just joined One Direction as a 16 year old is typical for the time. I know I can remember from sophomore year of high school how the go-to uniform for most guys included loud logo shirts/sagging pants/bulky sneakers, just like for Styles. I doubt a single person could imagine that same teenager would don an iconic, highlighter pink Gucci shirt/necktie combination 8 years later. 

“Dressed by the internet” personified

Two years later (18 y.o., 2012), his look starts to mature as by December he’s traded the large logos for a more subdued, chambray button down layered underneath a navy hoodie and olive (bomber?) jacket. Slim fitting indigo chinos and grey desert boots round out the bottom of his outfit. I actually laughed a bit after seeing this picture because this how almost exactly how I used to dress every day (sometimes I still do), even before I knew who he was. Between 2012-14 this was the internet’s go-to uniform that blogs all over would push guys interested in dressing better to wear. It’s inoffensive, looks nicer than what most guys wear, without being too “out there.” As Chef Gusteau would say, “Anyone can cook dress [well].”

Anyone can wear what Styles’ is wearing and look nice, but as we’ll see below, his style starts to become more individual to his personality/persona which makes his looks much more interesting.

His undershirt is poking out from his collar by the way.




II. My Attempt 

HS bench, retro, smiling
I think you can see where this is going

On top I have a miniature, forest green tree leaf print button down from J. Crew Factory above my Acne skinny jeans and grey suede Jodhpurs.

HS bench
J. Crew Factory/Acne/ASOS

This is the outfit I’ve been trying to build since fall 2015. In August of that year, I bought my first pair of black skinny jeans which I wear on average once every three days, in February 2015 I added on black Chelsea boots, both of which fit nicely with my rotation of white tee shirts for the laid back rock star look. I even added a leather jacket in September 2016, but still no printed shirt. 

HS top half
Special thanks to Kate W for the photography and shirt

I’ve come very close to purchasing many over the years, but it wasn’t until a friend of mine coerced me into buying this one from J. Crew Factory that I finally had my prize. 

I think the factory brand shirt may come as a surprise to some of you. In previous works I’ve discussed how I choose what pieces to buy and why (hint: longevity and ethicality), so purchasing a shirt from J Crew’s factory (rather than main) line contradicts my ethos.

This ties into the main reason why I found it difficult to buy a patterned shirt in the first place: I wasn’t sure how long they would remain in style. With that doubt in my mind, dropping money for a long-lasting piece which could become gaudy in a few years was tough to justify. At the same time, I was hesitant to buy a fast fashion shirt because I’ve largely moved on from that portion of fashion. Nevertheless, I don’t want to go into a hot topic ethical debate at the moment, so we’ll move on by saying I bought a cheap version of the shirt.

HS bench, close up
J. Crew Factory shirt

The shirt has an interesting construction. Almost all the button downs I own are OCBD’s which have a very distinct texture. Oxford cloth (button downs) have a thick, basket weave when sown which allows for sturdy construction and durability at the expense of breathability. Unlike Oxford cloth cotton, this shirt’s cotton is sewn from plain weave poplin. Poplin is an extremely common weave of cotton used in most dress shirts and casual button downs. It is a simple over/under weave which means it has much better breathability and lightness, allowing for it to be worn comfortably in the spring/summer time.

I’m not too familiar with signs of quality in poplin shirts, so I can’t say definitively if this shirt feels cheaply constructed or not. At times (when not worn with an undershirt) it can feel like wearing a shirt made of paper  – which may indicate poor construction (unfortunately I have nothing to compare it to) – but after multiple wears/washes it has not deformed in any manner, the printing still remains bold, and the collar has not fallen over. 

Overall, I’d say if you’re looking to experiment with a new design, J Crew Factory’s casual button downs are a solid option. I wouldn’t recommend splurging $50+ on a print you’re not definitively in lovee, but for $14.99 it’s not as big of a deal. I do know that JCF’s OCBD selection is the best in their price range (under $30), so likely they in similar esteem for their poplin shirts.

HS, full body focus (2)
No boots were stained in the shooting of this picture

I introduced the idea of silhouette in Part I from two days ago; here we’re going to see the visual effects of why it’s important. In my opinion, super skinny jeans act as elevator shafts directing the viewer’s attention up and down your outfit. With a smartly planned outfit, this can mean focusing attention onto a loud top without forgetting about a sleek pair of boots you might have on.

Jeans, side view
Contrasting loose top and tight bottom

Above we can clearly see the contrast in silhouette’s between the shirt and jeans. While the top isn’t as loose as some which Styles wears, it is significantly looser than most shirts I own. The jeans look pretty constricting, but I haven’t found them to be so. They’re made of 100% cotton – no stretch – which can take time to adapt to if you’ve been wearing 5-20% stretch jeans for some time, but easily they’re my top 2 favorite jeans. You would have greater mobility in stretch jeans, but as I mentioned before, you risk them losing shape as the stretch % increases.  

HS, full body focus
Acne Studios light wash skinny jeans

I think the inspiration from this outfit of Style’s is fairly obvious: loud printed top/tight jeans/side zip boots. Because it’s spring, I decided to go with my light wash denim and grey boots rather than my black denim and black leather Chelsea boots. Keep an eye out for Optimal Outfit’s fall/winter 2018 series as I should have posts on that combination out. 

Side zip closeup (2)
ASOS grey suede Jodhpur boots

You really do need sleek footwear to go with these jeans. They only have a 15 cm opening as a result of an aggressive taper along the entire leg starting at the waist. Therefore I wore my suede Jodhpurs which have a similar aesthetic to Chelseas, but are slightly more interesting in my opinion. Rather than no detailing on the exterior and an elastic band on the sides to facilitate taking on/off, Jodhpurs have an interior side zip and exterior strap for extra detailing. 

HS bench, full fit (mirror of 2)

HS bench, melancholy
My proportions are perfect for this bench

Technically the zips and strap exist for functionality. Jodhpur boots were developed as a type of (horseback) riding boots in 1920s India by the British military attempting to functionalize their uniforms for the tropical heat. Traditionally, riding boots went up to the knee in order to protect riders calves from rubbing against the saddle/horse; however, you can imagine why this was not conducive for riding in 90+ degree temperatures. The invention of Jodhpur trousers (tight fitting trousers which prevented them from riding up and exposing the user’s legs) meant shorter boots could now be worn. Quickly they crossed the Silk Road into the Western world and since then they’ve been a quiet staple of fashion. 

Recently, they’ve exploded in popularity with designers such as St. Laurent Paris including them as alternatives to minimalist Chelseas when trying to create western-inspired outfits 

This wraps up my first feature on Style Inspirations while also functioning as Pt II on what I’d wear to a royal European honeymoon. Looking into the future, my next post will be a true summer outfit as it’s finally crossed into the 90s on a daily basis in St. Louis before taking a look at different shoe options to wear this summer. Keep an eye out for me because I’ll definitely be around StL shooting new features. 

Just like in Part II, all the photographs for these pieces come from my photographer, Kate Wardenburg, who I’d like to give a big thanks to. In my opinion, she did a phenomenal job and you guys should definitely check out more of her stuff on her social media accounts! 

Make sure to stick around for the exciting spring/summer 2018 articles I have planned. It should be easier to track Optimal Outfits down as I finally bought the domain for this blog! No more “” necessary, just will do!

See you guys around,


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