This is Harry Styles at the Grammys, where he won best solo performance and got the unofficial gong for zaniest man dressing. A couple of things may occur to you when you look at this picture: firstly, what’s all the fuss about? Back in 1976, men dressing like Harry Styles were wall to wall. To get noticed you had to do better than wear a lilac feather boa and a tank top because David Bowie was doing all that plus a fedora and eye shadow, and Mick Jagger was regularly topless in velvet trousers. Did Rod Stewart ever wear a feather boa and a bare chest? Only all the time when he wasn’t wearing a midriff-baring cropped chiffon top and ladies silk scarf (one of his sexiest looks, as it happens).
The second thing you might think is, Styles is one of those lucky human beings who can wear anything and get away with it. Not saying they’ll necessarily look good, just that somehow they’ll pull it off and make it look like it was meant, rather than the result of a bet entered into after an all-night drinkathon. Styles could look a lot better than he does here, but he doesn’t have to, and that’s the point. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you’ve got where you want to be and more, you can afford to muck about and play with clothes the way you would have done when you were six.
The measure of success for a man like Styles in 2021 is being able to dress FAD (Fine and Dandy), causing other men to wonder how it’s done, because FAD dressing only works for certain individuals. Tom Cruise couldn’t get away with it, for example. Ed Sheeran wouldn’t. Nicholas Hoult probably could and Riz Ahmed might but wouldn’t much enjoy it, and you need to look like you’re having fun with FAD, or it sort of kills it.
Anyway the more important issue for Us is that men we know, civilian men, are dimly aware of the FAD rule and are quite likely these days to decide they want to give it a go, say at a party. (There could be quite a bit of this once we come out of lockdown on account of them feeling opportunities are slipping away, and Styles having reminded them of the time they looked pretty out there at that Cure gig.)
So, for the benefit of all those would-be FADers, here is a list of clothing items that should not be attempted, even when dressing up… and you won’t catch Styles wearing them either:
- White jeans. Unless you wish to look like crew on Mr Armani’s yacht.
- Tight short-sleeved shirts. Any short-sleeved shirts. Unless the genuine faded Hawaiian sort.
- A lot of chest on show. This is a young man’s game. Rod put his chest away years ago.
- Tight trousers. Fitted on the hips, that’s it.
- Interesting waistcoats. With or without shirts.
- Cuban heels (OK on Harry Styles, not on civilians).