Harry Styles’ Head-Turning Transformation From 16 To 27 Years Old

Harry Styles has been in the spotlight for over a decade now, though the former One Direction boy-bander is only getting started in his career. Styles rose to fame thanks to his audition on The X Factor, which would prove to be a pivotal point in his life, despite the fact that he was initially rejected by the judges. One of those judges, Simon Cowell, didn’t think Styles was ready for a solo career yet, though he did see some potential for a boyband — and thus, One Direction was born.

Of course, no one could know just how popular Styles and the rest of One Direction would become. Along with bandmates Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, and Liam Payne, Styles would spend much of his teenage years touring the world and enjoying the immense perks of having such a dedicated fanbase. The singer, who was 16 years old in this picture, has come a long way from his teenaged X Factor days — let’s take a look at the pop star’s head-turning transformation over the years. 

Harry Styles came from humble beginnings

Though Harry Styles is one of the most popular musicians in the world, that certainly wasn’t always the case. Styles (pictured above in 2012) was born in Worcestershire, England, on Feb. 1, 1994, according to Biography. The young singer, along with his mother, Anne Twist, and sister Gemma Styles, grew up in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, where he would frequently revisit, even after he skyrocketed to fame. 

In 2013, when One Direction was at the peak of their fame, Styles returned to Holmes Chapel to visit the bakery he worked at when he was just 14, according to the Mirror. Styles hopped back behind the counter and served some customers who were likely very shocked to see the star return to his minimum-wage roots. Of course, Styles was visiting to film a scene for One Direction’s movie, One Direction: This Is Us, which came out that same year.

While This Is Us gave fans insight into Styles’ life before the fame, his mother and sister also keep the star humble by sharing adorable childhood pics on Instagram. For Styles’ 27th birthday, which was on Feb. 1, 2021, Twist shared a throwback to the singer dressed in a puppy costume. “Happy birthday to my youngest pup,” the proud mom wrote.

Harry Styles became a worldwide sensation thanks to his boyband status

When Harry Styles auditioned for The X Factor in 2010, he was initially rejected as a solo performer. For his audition, Styles belted out an a cappella version of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” And while the audition certainly wasn’t bad, Styles was only 16 at the time, so his voice definitely had some maturing to do. Luckily for Styles, one of the hosts of the show, Simon Cowell, saw potential in his talent. That same year, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, and Liam Payne also auditioned for the show — and thus the “fab five” of One Direction was born, according to The Sun. The band itself would go on to finish in third place on The X Factor, but the bandmates’ success only skyrocketed from there.

One Direction (pictured here at the 2014 American Music Awards) became an immediate hit amongst fans. The band’s lead single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” was a defining pop sensation of the early 2010s, and according to Billboard, it helped the band’s debut album, Up All Night, snag the No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2012. The band would go on to release five total albums, sell out two stadium tours, and win several awards. The band played more than 300 shows, had four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, landed two Saturday Night Live performances, and won 28 Teen Choice Awards over their six-year run (per Billboard).

After One Direction went on hiatus, Harry Styles explored his solo career

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and One Direction fans know this all too well. While Zayn Malik left the band in March 2015, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Niall Horan would go on to release one more album before announcing a hiatus that same year (via Capital FM). While fans were no doubt heartbroken about saying goodbye to the band, there was one big silver lining: the hiatus allowed each member to explore a solo career.

And, for Styles, exploring a solo career proved to be natural and very successful. The singer (pictured here in 2015) dropped his first album, Harry Styles, in May 2017, and it was a hit. The album’s lead single, “Sign of the Times,” debuted in the No. 4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2017. In an interview with USA Today, Styles likened writing the album to “therapy,” saying that it’s “much easier saying something to an instrument than it is to a person.” 

As it turns out, Styles’ form of therapy was pretty effective, too. According to Rolling Stone, he reached new heights as Harry Styles cruised to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, establishing a new record for the British singer. Not too shabby for a solo debut album, that’s for sure!

Harry Styles found success outside of music, too

While Harry Styles is best known as a musician — both for his work in One Direction and as a solo artist — he’s pretty accomplished outside of the music world, too. At the same time as he embarked on his solo music career, the multi-talented star also dabbled in the film industry. In 2017, Styles starred in the Christopher Nolan war drama Dunkirk. The film itself was met with high praise, sitting at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Making an acting debut in a war movie is no easy feat, but Styles (who is pictured at the film’s 2017 premiere) managed to pull it off, with a USA Today critic praising his performance for having a “surprising amount of grit and pathos.”

Though Styles focused on music for the few years following his Dunkirk debut, he found himself back into acting in 2020. The British heartthrob filmed Don’t Worry Darling, which also stars Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan. The film’s director, Olivia Wilde, also opened up on Instagram about how much she enjoyed working with Styles on set, praising him for allowing his co-star Pugh to “take center stage.” Wilde also praised Styles’ work in the film, saying that the actor “infused every scene with a nuanced sense of humanity.” Despite Don’t Worry Darling only being Styles’ second film, he’s already proving to be as powerful an actor as he is a singer. 

The future is bright for Harry Styles

Harry Styles has enjoyed a decade-long career in the spotlight, and in 2021, the singer and actor is going stronger than ever. He’s still riding high on the success from his second solo album, Fine Line, which dropped in December 2019. Not only did the album debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, but it also landed the singer his first ever Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Music Video, and Best Pop Solo Performance. Speaking of the Grammys, Styles is also set to open the show, which will air live on March 14, 2021. 

Despite his continuously growing success, Styles still feels grounded and finds happiness in his projects. In 2020, Styles performed at an iHeartRadio Secret Session, and he also sat down for a Q&A at the event. “I just put a lot more emphasis on trying to find the balance and trying to do what makes me happy rather than trying to work out what I’m supposed to be doing,” Styles explained during the interview, via People. Clearly, he’s doing something right: with a flourishing music and film career, along with a history of records with One Direction, Styles is one of the most popular and talented stars of his generation. 

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