When Harry Styles, sparkling pop prince and newly minted solo star, so vigorously defended his teenage female fans on the pages of Rolling Stone, I had two young women in mind: Michelle and Simone DeFacendis, sisters three years apart, who are currently enrolled in college in Toronto.
They have a juggernaut of a side hustle on their hands, and it relates back to Styles, whom the pair started following with wide-eyed wonderment, as did so many, in One Direction's earliest days. Together, they operate Harry Wore What, the go-to destination for Styles' outfit credits. Since Harry Wore What first launched on Twitter and Instagram in 2014, Michelle and Simone have identified every single piece of clothing Styles has worn — and have more than 56,000 followers eagerly awaiting their updates, including ourselves at Fashionista.
In our time covering Styles' fashion — his suede boots, his Kurt Cobain sunglasses, his Paige denim, his Gucci suits — we've always turned to Harry Wore What for credits, which Michelle and Simone expertly find with speed and accuracy and a lot of work. "Even though it takes a lot of our time, we find it really fun, and obviously we wouldn't be doing this if we didn't like it," Michelle, the elder of the two, recently told Tyler and me over the phone from Toronto. And it's just like Styles told Rolling Stone: "Teenage-girl fans — they don't lie… They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick."
We chatted with Michelle and Simone about how they do it, who follows them that they're most excited about and what they'd do if they got that Styles follow.
Take us back to the beginning. When did your love for Harry Styles start?
Simone: We're huge fans of fashion and Harry, so we thought of doing some kind of unique account on Twitter. We thought we would put the two together.
Michelle: We've been obsessed with One Direction since the "Up All Night" days — the very beginning. Obviously, Harry was a standout for us, so we've always been huge fans of him particularly.
When did you decide to launch Harry Wore What?
Simone: It was back in January 2014, and we were already looking for his exact clothes, just out of curiosity. We noticed he was wearing more designer clothing as time went on, and we thought it would be cool to compile the information we were finding on the internet, thinking that some other people would be just as interested as we are. And it looks like people are. We've gained a lot of followers over the past three years.
When did you realize Harry Wore What was really taking off?
Michelle: Well, our very first tweet got 100 retweets within a minute. As we kept finding more pieces, each tweet kept getting retweets and it just kept—
Simone: Growing and growing.
Michelle: I guess promo season in 2014 was when it really started to take off because he started to wear more patterned clothes—
Simone: And stuff that was really different.
Michelle: And then in 2015, he really started experimenting with the full pattern suits, so it just kept growing.
Throughout that initial growth period, was there one look that you guys remember performing exceptionally well?
Michelle: I know in 2015, the red floral Gucci suit he wore for “The X-Factor” final—
Simone: That was the first patterned suit he wore.
Michelle: No, besides the AMAs — the white and black floral one. But that one got like, 5,000 likes on Instagram, so I think that was our most popular post.
How much time does it take to update and maintain everything?
Simone: It really depends. For example, the jumpsuit he wore last week during his James Corden, "The Late Late Show" residency — instantly when we saw it on TV, we knew that it was Charles Jeffrey. But there wasn't a picture of him online that was high-quality enough that we could use. So in that case, we had to wait half an hour, 45 minutes for the right picture to come out and that delayed the post. If we're not able to find everything right away, we'll have to search around a little bit.
Michelle: Overall, it takes a lot of time and dedication, but we're always on our social media checking up with Twitter, so we see what's happening right away.
Simone: It's funny though, because obviously we live together so we'll be like, doing our homework or something, and then a new picture of him comes out and everything is put on hold; we have to try to get the post out as soon as possible.
And I'm sure it got really busy with all his "The Late Late Show" looks.
Simone: Yeah, it was kind of crazy. We're both in school, so we were staying up until like, 2 a.m. all week and then we had to go to school the next day.
Michelle: And then when he's doing his stuff in the London and the U.K., time zones are kind of tricky.
Simone: Sometimes the reason we don't get it up right away is just purely because we're sleeping. [Laughs]
Michelle: Or we're at school or work.
Are you guys at all relieved when he goes on break?
Michelle: Oh yeah. [Laughs]
Simone: 2016 was a nice break for us, but at the same time it was hard because we didn't have anything to tweet, so we were worried that we would lose followers, but thankfully everyone kind of stood by with us.
Michelle: We started doing more throwbacks posts, like, "A year ago today he wore this suit”—
Simone: Just trying to keep our followers engaged.
Michelle: And it definitely was a nice break. I know last fall I had a really busy time with school and it was funny how he decided to go MIA while I was trying to do my schoolwork.
From where are you guys sourcing your images?
Simone: We try to use high-quality photos from professional photographers. And then when it comes to the actual photos from designer runways, we usually go to their websites.
How do you know where to look when you're trying to identify a piece?
Simone: One thing that we try to do is get to know the different collections really well so that when we see a picture of him, we'll spot a certain pattern and think, "Well, yeah, that's Gucci." Getting to know collections really well helps us find things quickly, but lately he's been wearing a lot of lesser-known brands, so we've been trying to search Instagram through Harry Lambert, his stylist, and see the kind of things that he posts. That usually gives us a little bit of a hint of what he's going wear. He actually follows us, which is pretty cool.
Were you always this interested in fashion?
Michelle: We grew up reading magazines and—
Simone: Growing up, our mom was always a huge, huge fan of designer fashion, so she influenced us a lot to take an interest in designer fashion. It's really fun to put our love of fashion and Harry together.
How do you split up your duties? Does one of you focus on sourcing and the other pulls the photos, or how does that work?
Simone: Yeah, that's exactly what we do. Michelle will usually search for the photos and put the little collage together, and then I'll start to look up the location, when he was seen in the outfit, as well as the different hashtags we’ll include in our caption, and then we'll put them together. So it works. We divide our time and it makes us more efficient.
You've been following [Styles] for years, and his most recent style iteration is arguably the most exciting. What do you value most about how he approaches clothing now?
Simone: I really like that he’s able to balance prints. It's the one thing that has always stood out to me. He's really been able to take these looks and, I don't know, make them look—
Michelle: He makes them effortless, you know what I mean? You see them on the runway and then the way he wears it... it's just very unique. It’s inspiring to see that he’ll wear those really out-there pieces and—
Simone: Just not care what other people think.
Do you have an eye for things that he'll wear, considering how reliable he is with the brands that he likes?
Simone: Oh yeah, that's happened a couple times. When he performed on ["Saturday Night Live"] a few weeks ago, he wore a Gucci plaid suit. I remember like, two hours before, I was doing my research, looking at the most recent runways, and I saw that and was like, "He could totally wear this. I have a feeling that he's going to wear this." And he did, which was cool! When it comes to the designers that he wears, the big-name brands, you can always rely on those ones.
You told Teen Vogue last summer that his gold boots were your favorite item of clothing of his, but he's worn so much since then. Do you have a new favorite piece of his now?
Michelle: I think the suit he wore on the first night of "The Late Late Show." He wore an embroidered — I think it was navy — like a Japanese-vibe print and—
Simone: It was custom Gucci.
Michelle: Yeah, it was custom Gucci. We came to that conclusion when we noticed that the print the suit was made of... there were other pieces on the runway that had the same pattern and the same fabric.
Simone: I loved that [the trousers] were flared, too. It was just a great look.
There's been a lot of talk about since he started his solo career, more and more new fans are coming through the cracks, realizing how great he is. Have you seen a jump in engagement since he went solo?
Michelle: Yeah, definitely. This past week was a little insane. We were gaining about 100 followers a day, and they were people who didn't seem like fan accounts or just teenage girls. They was more of—
Simone: Grown men who were actually interested in dressing like him.
Michelle: Yeah, more adults.
Simone: I think in the past week we gained like, 700 followers.
Michelle: Yeah, it's crazy. And we also got mentioned in a few articles this week; that definitely helped us.
Who follows you guys that you're really excited about?
Michelle: Well, you guys, first of all. [Laughs] Harry Lambert, obviously. That's the most insane to us.
Simone: Daniel Fletcher, Charles Jeffrey, Paige, Paige Men — who else? A whole bunch of huge writers, which is crazy.
What's next for Harry Wore What?
Simone: Our next goal would definitely be to start a website. I know I'm very passionate about writing, and I feel like I would love to share our personal thoughts and opinions on his looks and also help other people to achieve his looks in a more budget-friendly way.
Michelle: For me, too, I think a website would be our next step, but it's just the time. We don't have the time right now.
Simone: Yeah, it's hard being in school. Sometimes we wish we had a year off just to focus on this and grow it even more, but it's not the time right now.
And of course, what would you do if you got the [Styles] follow?
Simone: Honestly, I don't think we would function. I don't think that would happen, though, because he obviously knows what he's wearing. [Laughs] But that would be crazy.
Michelle: I think we would see a huge influx in followers. That would be the best reward, I think.
Note: This interview has been updated to remove a section on fan accounts.
Homepage photo: Sofi Adams/Getty Images
This interview has been edited and condensed.