From One Direction to His Own Direction: Harry Styles

In 2010, the world had its first glimpse of Harry Styles on the X Factor stage when he auditioned as a solo artist. He was later placed in a group that would become One Direction. The boy band took over the charts and made millions of teenage girls swoon with their catchy toons and adorable looks.

Harry Styles / Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde / Harry Styles / Harry Styles.
Source: Getty Images

However, the boys grew up and went their separate ways, and Styles became a solo artist. Since he ventured off on his own, Styles has had incredible success, broken records, and gained a new legion of fans. Even with his worldwide fame, there is a lot that people don’t know about Harry Styles.

Humble Beginnings

Harry Styles was born in Worcestershire, England before his family moved to Holmes Chapel in Cheshire. Life in the small village was nice until his parents divorced when Styles was seven. Despite the divorce, he said she had a “great childhood,” and his parents always supported his love of singing.

A portrait of Styles in his early school years.
Source: Pinterest

As a kid, Styles sang covers on a karaoke machine his grandfather gave him. The first song he recorded was Elvis’ “The Girl of My Best Friend.” While dabbling in music, Styles also worked at a local bakery when he turned 14, making six pounds an hour. He was the politest staff member.

Punk Goes Pop

He might have gotten famous in One Direction, but Styles’ first band experience was in high school. He joined the pop-punk band called White Eskimo, performing in several talent shows and a wedding. Everyone who saw the band knew Styles had incredible talent, and he loved performing for people.

A photo of Styles during his high school years.
Source: Pinterest

Styles heard that X Factor was holding auditions and brought the idea of auditioning up to his bandmate, Will Sweeny. Sweeny supported Styles’ desire to be on the show but didn’t think much would come of it. He thought his friend would have a great experience and come home after.

Encouraging Him to Audition

Styles’ mom encouraged him to audition for the X Factor, and his friends supported the decision. On April 11, 2010, he auditioned as a solo contestant, singing Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” Dressed in his signature cardigan and scarf, he wowed the judges and made it to the boot camp round.

A portrait of a younger Styles.
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However, during the boot camp round, Styles was eliminated. He thought his time on the show was over, and he would have to go back to his regular life, working at the bakery and singing in his pop-punk band. However, one of the judges saw some potential in Styles and four other boys.

A Bright Idea

Four other boys in Styles’ age group, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik, were also eliminated. But Simon Cowell saw that they could work as a group. The boys had two weeks to practice together to compete in the “Groups” category, mentored by Cowell.

A photo of One Direction performing onstage on The X Factor.
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The boys needed to come up with a name, so they threw around a few ideas before Styles suggested One Direction. They thought they would change it later, but it stuck. The group had their issues later on, but they all agreed that Styles thought of the group name.

Third Place Isn’t That Bad

Once Styles, Horan, Payne, Tomlinson, and Malik started competing as a group, they gained considerable popularity in the UK. Within the first four weeks of the live shows, they were Cowell’s last act in the competition. They were the new version of NYSNC or the Backstreet Boys.

A dated image of Styles arriving at an event.
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Many thought One Direction would win the whole competition, but Styles and the group finished in third place. Despite finishing third, in January 2011, One Direction signed a recording contract with Cowell’s label Syco Records, releasing their debut single, “What Makes You Beautiful.”

Breaking Records

One Direction’s debut studio album, Up All Night, came out later that year. Styles co-wrote three songs on the album, helping One Direction become the first British group to have their debut album reach number one in the United States.

One Direction poses for the press.
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From the start, it was clear that One Direction would go places. Their four succeeding albums – Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, Four, and Made in the AM – debuted at number one in the UK. The group broke records, and Midnight Memories was the world’s best-selling album in 2013.

They Were Unstoppable

After the release of Four, Styles and the boys became the only group in the history of the Billboard 200 albums chart to have their first four albums debut at number one. Plus, One Direction’s Where We Are Tour was the highest-grossing tour of 2014.

An image of Styles during a performance of One Direction.
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The Where We Are Tour also remains the highest-grossing tour of all time by a vocal group. Fans became obsessed with Styles, Horan, Payne, Tomlinson, and Malik. Their faces were plastered on the walls of millions of teenagers’ bedrooms. They couldn’t be stopped.

Five Becomes Four

Besides their successful albums, One Direction released several successful singles, including “Live While We’re Young,” “Little Things,” “Best Song Ever,” and “Story of My Life.” However, after five years of performing together, Malik decided to leave the group, leaving the four others to finish their tour.

Malik performs on stage.
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Styles and the other had been arguing with Malik because he didn’t like the music and wanted to go solo. After leaving, Malik said he wouldn’t listen to One Direction’s new music. Styles and Malik reportedly didn’t speak while they were in the band together.

Going in Different Directions

After Malik’s departure, Styles and the remaining members released “Drag Me Down” in August 2015, followed by their album Made in the AM. It was their only album as a foursome, but people still liked their sound even without Malik.

Styles performs on stage.
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Although they did well as a foursome, Styles suggested that the group should take a break. They all wanted solo careers and were exhausted. After completing promotional activities for their album, One Direction went on an indefinite hiatus in 2016, and Styles started working on his own music.

Styles Goes Solo

When Styles was in One Direction, he had all the talent to become a successful solo artist. He co-wrote many of the group’s songs and even co-wrote Ariana Grande’s “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart.” Columbia Records was quick to sign Styles.

A photo of Styles during a show.
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He also launched Erskine Records and started recording his debut solo album. Styles’ debut single, “Sign of the Times,” was a huge departure from the music he recorded with One Direction. His new music was glam rock-influenced, with people comparing it to David Bowie’s style.

Around the World With Styles

Styles wanted his first solo album to be perfect so that no one would think he couldn’t make it on his own. He spent about a year recording and writing the album in Los Angeles, London, and Port Antonio, Jamaica, where Styles and collaborators had a two-month writing retreat.

A still from the music video.
Source: YouTube

Rolling Stone ranked the album’s first single, “Sign of the Times,” as the best song of 2017, and the music video won the Brit Award for British Video of the Year. Styles’ self-titled album came out in May 2017, topping the charts in several countries.

A Swift Romance

One of Styles’ first publicized relationships was with Taylor Swift. The two began dating in 2012 and lasted for about a year. Their romance was short-lived, but it lived on in the singers’ music as they each allegedly wrote songs about one another.

Swift and Styles are walking in Central Park.
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Some claim Swift’s “… Ready for It” is about Styles, and his song “Two Ghosts” is about her. They eventually broke up in 2013, and Styles quickly moved on to an older woman from his past, Nicole Scherzinger. She was a judge on the X Factor when he competed.

More Age-Appropriate

Styles and Scherzinger reconnected after the X Factor in 2013 and dated for a few months. She was 35, and he was 19, and the age gap didn’t work for them. Styles then moved on to Kendall Jenner, who was more age-appropriate.

Scherzinger poses for the press.
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Their relationship took the world by storm, and they were spotted on several dates together. Styles and Jenner reportedly broke up by February 2014, but they remained friends. The two just had very busy schedules and didn’t have much time together.

Lights, Camera, Action!

He might have been known for his singing, but Styles also dabbled in the world of acting. His first on-screen appearance was in an episode of iCarly. However, he made his big acting debut in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk in 2017.

A still of Styles in a scene from Dunkirk.
Source: Copyright: Warner Bros

Nolan said he won the part over “thousands of young men,” and the director didn’t know the extent of Styles’ fame when he cast him. Styles earned the part and received praise from critics who called his performance “unexpectedly not-at-all-jarring.” Styles later appeared in Eternals as Eros.

Just Fine on His Own

While some people didn’t know if he would succeed on his own after One Direction, Styles was doing well. In November 2017, BBC One broadcasted Harry Styles, a one-hour TV special about his new solo career. He also served as an executive producer for CBS’s Happy Together.

Styles poses for the press.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Styles had more opportunities coming his way than when he was in One Direction. He was able to find himself, play with style, and take on new projects. Styles also started modeling in 2018 for Gucci, appearing in several campaigns.

An Eye for Models

After dating Jenner, Styles had a string of relationships with other models. In 2015, he was linked to Victoria’s Secret models Nadine Leopold, Sara Sampaio, Georgia Fowler, and Jenner (again). Styles easily won over beautiful women with his charming accent and dimples.

A portrait of Kendall Jenner / A photo of Nadine Leopold.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris, WireImage, Getty Images / Daniele Venturelli, WireImage, Getty Images

The ladies couldn’t get enough of him. But in 2017, he took a break from dating models by linking up with food blogger Tess Ward. The two allegedly secretly dated for a few months until she got back together with an ex. Styles didn’t have trouble finding another woman.

New Music

It had been two years since the release of his first solo album when Styles announced his second album, Fine Line. To promote his new music, he appeared as the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live in November 2019. He was actually quite hilarious.

A still of Styles on SNL.
Source: YouTube

Styles delivered part of his opening monologue from behind a piano and later sang “Watermelon Sugar” and “Lights Up” from his new album. The album was released the following month, featuring elements of funk and soul. It had a similar sound to his previous album.

Scared to Get It Wrong

Styles’ hit tune “Watermelon Sugar” became the song stuck in everyone’s head for most of 2020. He acknowledged the “nursery rhyme” feel to the chorus but told Variety that he doesn’t chase pop appeal when writing songs. He experimented more with Fine Line than on his previous album.

A still of Styles in Watermelon Sugar’s music video.
Source: YouTube

In an interview with Variety, Styles said his self-titled 2017 album represented a significant time in his life, but he can hear where he played it safe. He was nervous because it was his first solo album, and Styles admitted, “I was scared to get it wrong.”

He Loves Shania Twain

When talking about his biggest music influences, Styles said Shania Twain inspired him in both music and fashion. His mom played Twain’s songs when he was a child, and it shaped his style. He also listened to The Beatles, Elvis, Fleetwood Mac, and Norah Jones.

Styles performs on stage.
Source: YouTube

As a kid, music was always playing in his home, so he listened to various artists. Styles’ music was shaped by all these influences. In 2022, he performed with Twain at Coachella, and it must have been a dream come true to sing with his idol.

A Unique Fashion Sense

Since his departure from the boy band, Styles has branched out in his style. As a solo artist, he has opted for custom pink suits, sequined tops, printed flare pants, and platform shoes. Some people called his style “flamboyant,” but he has fun with fashion.

A studio portrait of Styles.
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Styles became an advocate for the genderfluid fashion movement because he hasn’t been afraid to mix more feminine pieces with masculine clothes. His stylist has put him in women’s clothing before, and Styles doesn’t care because it’s more about fashion than gender.

Making Vogue History

In 2020, Styles was featured on the cover of Vogue’s December issue. He became the first man to appear solo on the cover of the iconic magazine. However, having Styles on the cover wasn’t what got people talking; his fashion choices drew criticism.

An image of the magazine cover.
Photo by Tyler Mitchell/Vogue

He wore a light-blue dress with a black blazer, and commentators criticized him. Styles hit back at the haters by posting a picture of himself in a frilly outfit, eating a banana. He was later voted GQ’s Most Stylish Man of the Year in 2020.

School Plays Influenced His Style

In his Vogue interview, Styles said he always liked dressing up as a child. He participated in school plays, and in his first performance, Styles was a church mouse named Barney. He liked wearing the costume and enjoyed getting dressed up for the productions.

Styles poses wearing a white dress.
Photo by Tyler Mitchell/Vogue

Styles said, “I was really young, and I wore tights for that. I remember it was crazy to me that I was wearing a pair of tights. And that was maybe where it all kicked off.” Styles has loved experimenting with fashion ever since.

He Took the Role

Styles only had a few acting credits under his belt when he replaced Shia LeBeouf in Olivia Wilde’s film Don’t Worry Darling. In the psychological thriller, Styles will play Jack, the husband of Florence Pugh’s character. Stars like Chris Pine and Nick Kroll are also part of the cast.

A promotional still of Styles for the film.
Source: Copyright: New Line Cinema

When filming began in 2020, it was the first time Styles met Wilde. He was excited to work with the actress, but there were filming delays due to the pandemic. During production, Wilde also broke off her engagement with Jason Sudeikis.

An Unexpected Romance

After praising Styles’ acting abilities in the press, Wilde was spotted holding hands with Styles in January 2021. No one knew when they had started dating, but friends said the new couple was very affectionate with each other. They didn’t hide their romance but didn’t comment on it.

A photo of Styles and Wilde walking holding hands.
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After filming ended, Styles took Wilde to England, presumably to meet his family. This appeared to be moving fast between the couple despite their ten-year age difference. Styles and Wilde were later seen on an Italian vacation packed with PDA.

Is Harry Styles Married?

While Styles and Wilde have gotten pretty serious, they are not married. The two are still dating, and she said she is the happiest she has been in her life. Wilde was spotted at Styles’ concert in September 2021 and wore one of his tour shirts.

Styles performs on stage.
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Wilde told Vogue in January 2022, “It’s obviously really tempting to correct a false narrative. I think what you realize is that when you’re happy, it doesn’t matter what strangers think about you.” The pair recently took their relationship to another level.

How Old Is Harry Styles’ Daughter?

Styles does not have children of his own, but in December 2021, Wilde introduced him to her children. Wilde didn’t want to introduce Styles to her children until she knew it was serious, and he slowly started to get to know her kids, whom she shares with Jason Sudeikis.

A photo of Wilde posing with her daughter.
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Wilde’s children are still young, so she has taken things slow when it comes to them spending time with Styles. He has also been very busy, so he hasn’t been around as much to see the children frequently.

Growing Tattoo Collection

Fans who have been around since Styles’ first days in the spotlight have seen his tattoo evolution. During his One Direction days, Styles was tattoo free, but he has added several inkings to his body over the years. Some of his tattoos include two birds on his chest.

A close-up on Styles tattoos.
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Styles also has a large butterfly on his torso. He has over 60 tattoos now, some being tributes to family members and others being reminders of his hometown. Styles even has a matching tattoo with Ed Sheeran and got an inking while appearing on James Corden’s show.

Extra Body Parts

Most of his chest and torso are covered in tattoos today, but before he got his inkings, fans noticed something unique about Styles. In a 2017 interview with Chelsea Handler, the singer revealed that he has four nipples. The extra two are pretty small and not noticeable.

Styles performs on stage.
Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage/Getty Images

Maybe Styles got large tattoos on his torso to cover the extra nipples. He never seemed embarrassed about it and proudly showed them to whoever asked about them. Most people have forgotten about his extra nipples in recent years. It was bigger news when he first gained fame.

He Bit Himself

Styles might have many young fans, but he has been honest about experimenting with certain drugs. He told Rolling Stone in 2019 that he did “a lot” of magic mushrooms while working on Fine Line. Styles said he was tripping pretty hard and injured himself at the Shangri-La recording studio.

A portrait of Styles.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

He bit off the tip of his tongue and continued to sing with blood gushing out of his mouth. Styles said psychedelics have become part of his songwriting process, which clearly helps him. His music has topped the charts, so the mushrooms are working.

Harry’s House

Styles’ most recent album, Harry’s House, achieved critical and commercial success in 2022. It is his third studio album and debuted as the fastest-selling record of 2022 to date. His single “As It Was” topped the charts for several weeks, and he is currently on tour to promote the album.

Styles performs on stage.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

His new music is different and more personal than previous albums. Harry’s House feels like it is close to Styles’ heart and an album that he put a lot of thought and effort into. His personality comes through more in this music.

Dealing With Anxiety

In a 2019 interview, Styles opened up about his battle with anxiety. He said he suffered from anxiety while performing and touring with One Direction. Styles revealed, “I was constantly scared I might sing the wrong note. I felt so much weight in terms of not getting this wrong.”

A photo of Styles performing on stage.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

While it was a lot of pressure, Styles enjoyed performing with the band. However, he feels his fans have given him the environment to grow up and discover himself. Styles said he has a safe space to learn and make mistakes without ridicule.

A Charitable Style

For several years, Styles rocked his curly hair in a longer, shaggy style. However, he debuted a short haircut in 2016 for his role in Dunkirk. Instead of wasting his hair, Styles donated it to Little Princess Trust, a charity that makes wigs for children receiving cancer treatments.

A picture of Styles with long hair.
Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

Styles has kept his hair fairly short since his big chop, but he would probably grow it out to donate it again. The organization posted about the news, thanking the singer for his donation, saying his luscious locks were on their way to the wig maker.

Stevie Nicks Loves Him

Stevie Nicks, singer-songwriter and vocalist of Fleetwood Mac, is Styles’ close friend. She once said Styles is her and Mick Fleetwood’s love child. They felt he was the son they never had, so she “adopted” him. Styles is a big fan of the legendary singer.

Styles and Stevie Nicks perform together on stage.
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He paid tribute to Nicks at her second induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Styles said, “She is the family member you can always count on. I hope she knows what she means to us.” She has been a mentor to Styles.

The “Consent King”

Two models who starred in Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” music video took to Instagram to talk about their experience working with Styles. In their 2020 Instagram live, they said the singer was a “consent king.” The models felt comfortable working with Styles.

A still Styles surrounded by models in Watermelon Sugar.
Source: YouTube

Whenever the director would tell Styles to touch the models, he would stop to ask them for permission. His constant check-ins earned Styles the “consent king” nickname among his cast members. It’s not a bad name compared to what people say about other men in Hollywood.

A Different Career Choice

As a child, Styles had a few dream careers in mind before he became a singer. He once said he wanted to be a footballer (soccer player), but he wasn’t good enough. Styles then decided he wanted to be a physiotherapist for football players.

Styles plays soccer during a charity sports event.
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When he went to his school’s career day, someone told Styles there were no jobs in physiotherapy. Styles joked that he became a musician because his first two career options didn’t work out. It ended up being a good career choice for him.

He’s a Bookworm

While most people as famous as Styles throw lavish parties for their birthdays, the singer spent his 25th birthday reading in a Japanese coffee shop. He was never an avid reader until he got older. Styles said, “I had such a short attention span. But I was dating someone who gave me books.”

Styles attends an event.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

He felt he had to read the books so his then-girlfriend wouldn’t think he was a “dummy” if he didn’t touch the books. Styles said the first book he couldn’t stop reading was Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood.”

He Helped a Fan Come Out

Styles is known for having fun with his fans during concerts. He often comments on the signs they bring and makes the audience laugh between songs. On one occasion, a fan had a poster that read, “I’m gonna come out to my parents because of you.”

Styles poses for a photo with fans.
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When Styles read the sign, he asked the fan what her parents’ names were. The girl said her mom’s name was Tina. Styles then said, “Tina! She’s gay!” It was a heartwarming moment between the singer and his fan. It was also a great coming-out story for that girl.

First Experience With Fame

One of Styles’ first memories of being famous was when he and the other members of One Direction saw their picture in a local newspaper. He said they went to the newsstand and bought copies to read over breakfast. It was a picture someone’s mom took.

A dated portrait of One Direction.
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Styles remembers everyone staring at the photo and passing the paper around to marvel at the picture again and again. It was an exciting time because Styles had never appeared in the paper before, but that was nothing compared to his current fame.

His Biggest Fear

Just because he is a world-famous singer doesn’t mean Styles is fearless. He reportedly suffers from ophidiophobia, a fear of snakes. Many people see Styles as someone who is confident in everything he does, but he does not mess with reptiles.

Styles performs on stage.
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Many can agree that snakes are terrifying because they slither and can kill you. Fans feel more connected to Styles because they share his fear of snakes. He doesn’t understand why some people choose to keep them as pets. That’s one animal you will never see Styles holding.

He’s a Packers Fan

Styles might be from England, but he has learned to appreciate American football. His love of the sport is nothing compared to soccer, but Styles formed an attachment to the Green Bay Packers. His love of the team started when he became friends with someone from Wisconsin.

A photo of a Green Bay Packers fan cheering.
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His friend would watch the Packers play when Styles was around, and the singer slowly got into the game. He appreciated that fans own the team. Styles also likes cheese, making him and the Packers the perfect match. He also has a tattoo to honor the Packers.

Splitting His Time

Styles family still lives in England, so he splits his time between England and America. The singer has homes in London and New York. He purchased three homes in London and sold two of them. Styles previously had a home in Los Angeles but sold it.

Styles performs on stage.
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He didn’t like living in LA because he “became disillusioned with the city.” Styles is grateful that he can afford such nice homes. At the beginning of his career, he lived in producer Ben Winston’s attic while looking for his own home.

A Heart for the Less Fortunate

He has a busy life, but Styles still cares about those less fortunate than himself. He and Ed Sheeran once spent $3,600 on pizzas to hand out to the homeless. They ordered from Domino’s and drove around delivering them to those in need.

A portrait of Styles.
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Styles has also been involved with several charities, including the HeForShe gender equality campaign and Drop4Drop supporting Life Water’s World Water Day campaign. Styles has donated proceeds from his tours to different charities and supports the LGBTQ+ community.

Taking the High Road

When Malik left One Direction, he said many negative things about Styles and the group. He said One Direction’s music was “uncool” and that he didn’t have friends in the band. When Styles heard the comments, he didn’t say anything bad about his former bandmember.

Styles addresses the media.
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Instead, Styles took the high road, saying, “I think it’s a shame he felt that way, but I never wish anything but luck to anyone doing what they love.” Styles also said if someone isn’t enjoying what they are doing, they should do something else.

No Labels for Styles

Due to the way he dresses and his support for the LGBTQ+ community, many have questioned Styles’ sexuality. In a 2022 interview with Better Homes and Gardens magazine, he said the expectation to label his sexual orientation was “outdated.” He has never put a label on himself.

A photo of Styles on the red carpet.
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Many people have asked Styles about his sexual orientation, but he doesn’t plan to give anyone an answer. He said, “The whole point of where we should be heading, which is towards accepting everybody and being more open, is that it doesn’t matter.”