After a week of debate and dedicated voting campaigns, Louis Tomlinson has emerged victorious as your Most Handsome Young Man of 2023. It’s fitting because Louis’ victory makes it a complete sweep for the members of One Direction and Louis can now join his former bandmates Harry Styles (MHYM 2015), Niall Horan (MHYM 2017), and Liam Payne (MHYM 2018) in the Handsome Hall of Fame. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a stan of One Direction and all the boys’ solo careers, it’s that Louies are an incredibly passionate bunch who also know how to organize. They came out in droves this week for Louis, and he won by the largest margin in the history of this poll. A handsome victory indeed!!
It’s easy to see why Louies are so fiercely devoted to him. Louis has been having a banner year between the long-awaited release of his documentary All of These Voices and the North American and UK/European legs of the Faith in the Future World Tour. And he’s done it all whilst looking the best he’s ever looked. Seriously. I look at him and immediately start singing that line from “Juice” about being not a snack but the whole damn meal.
2024 looks to be just as big of a year for our newly crowned Most Handsome Young Man with the FITFWT hitting Indonesia, Australia, and Latin America, not to mention the fact that (hopefully) LT3 is looming on the horizon. So let’s take a moment to celebrate Louis and the top ten things that made him so handsome in 2023, shall we?
The LTHQ Instagram Account
Honestly, the best and smartest decision Team Louis made in 2023 was handing the password for the LTHQOfficial Instagram account over to Louis’ incredible tour photographer Joshua Halling. Josh’s brilliant work was definitely put to use in the 2022 tour, with posts full of behind-the-scenes pics and performance photos being uploaded in batches every three or four shows. But, as with many things Louis this year, they went bigger and better for the Faith in the Future World Tour, with every single show getting a dedicated photo post on Instagram in addition to a promo poster on Twitter. After being starved for content for so many years post-One Direction, suddenly Louis’ socials became a veritable smorgasbord of gorgeousness. It’s been a bit overwhelming, in the best way possible.
In addition to absolutely fantastic concert photography that manages to perfectly capture the energy of Louis’ shows, all the Insta posts include a gorgeous pre-show portrait of Louis smoldering at the camera and showing off his outfit of the day like a true fashionista. How lucky are we to be alive in his thirst trap / fashion influencer era? I feel so blessed every damn day.
His Stage Style
Louis has always been stylish and has cared way more about fashion than he lets on. He’s very thoughtful about his clothes, everything meticulously chosen to complete a LOOK, all the way down to the shoes that perfectly coordinate with his outfit. The man loves to be comfy and cozy with lots of joggers and hoodies and sweaters and vintage tees and rare football jerseys. His personal style trends classically sporty, which can make an ordinary person think that he’s casual and underdressed…until they look closer and realize this rich bitch is wearing a two thousand dollar sweatshirt. He knows what works on him and his brand loyalty makes him relatable, even if those brands are luxury ones like Burberry, Neil Barrett, Fred Perry, and his 2023 fave, Stone Island.
On tour in 2022, Louis’ stage wear was a bit demure and understatedly fashionable, his stage uniform mainly consisting of basic slim-fit black jeans (HOW MANY PAIRS DOES HE HAVE?) and a variety of polos, graphic tees, and England jerseys. Don’t get me wrong, he always looked good. The man could wear a garbage bag on stage and I would call it high fashion. But, as is the recurring theme of this post, Louis and his stylist Helen Seamons upped their game in 2023, keeping the reliable tees and jerseys but also integrating a wider variety of colors and more bodycon silhouettes into his stage looks. It’s like his increased confidence on stage manifested itself in his fashion choices as well, and it was all just very very good to see.
And then there was, of course, the return of Tank Top Louis, the likes of which we hadn’t seen since 2015. All the better to show off how toned his arms and shoulders have gotten thanks to post-surgery physical therapy, my dear.
When he announced that he would be touring the US in the summer, playing outdoor venues in places like Texas in mid-July, the whole fandom manifested that tank tops (and shorts) would return but I don’t think we actually believed it would happen. But then on June 1st, at the Cuyahoga Falls show in Ohio, Louis strutted on stage in a tight black tank top and green Stone Island trackies that perfectly hugged his curves and we all collectively lost our minds. Seriously, it was like we were a group of Victorian men getting an unexpected flash of a lady’s ankle or something.
(God, I WISH we would get an HQ flash of his ankles. IYKYK.)
And the best thing is that the tank tops became a staple of Louis’ tour wardrobe, even as the tour moved to Europe in the fall. It was like Helen bought up every type of tank they could find, from classic shapes to racer backs with higher necklines to slightly blousier ones that skim his body rather than hug it. There were multiple designers being put to the test every night as Louis ran down to the barricade, throwing himself into a crowd of adoring fans. (More on that later, I promise.) For the record, Calvin Klein’s tanks proved to the most barricade proof, while Prada stretched but held together, and Tom Ford ripped like tissue paper. A very worthy fashion experiment indeed.
In short, 2023 ushered in a fantastic new fashion era for Louis and I can’t wait to see the looks he’s going to bring us in 2024. Who knows? Maybe he’ll bring the quiff back for more than one night only…
Serving on the Red Carpet
We weren’t just blessed by Louis’ stage fashion this year. With the global premiere of his documentary All of These Voices we were given a version of Louis we hadn’t gotten in years: Red Carpet Louis. While he kept it a little more casual for the premieres in Mexico City and Los Angeles (well, as casual as a Balmain polo costing $975 can be anyway), the premieres in Tokyo and London gifted us with the rarest of sightings: Louis wearing the ever-loving hell out of a suit.
We’ve gotten some (sneaky) pics of Louis wearing a suit at various weddings over the past five years, but I feel like the last time we got HQ pics of Suit!Louis date back to 2018 during his stint as a judge for The X-Factor when he was growing out his Peaky Blinders hair. So to see him in all his shaggy haired silver fox wearing a perfectly tailored suit? Incredible. Louis loves a black suit, but what I love about both of his premiere suits is how they have little details that elevate them from being boring, from the silver buckle that almost looks like a padlock on the Givenchy suit for London to the slightly contrasting lapels of the Neil Barrett tux he wore in Tokyo. Plus, we should have KNOWN he was giving us a preview of how he was going to slut it up on tour because rather than pair the jackets with a traditional crisp button-up, Louis wore tanks with both suits, giving us a tantalizing tease of the chest piece. Is it hot in here or is it just Louis?
The partnership with Neil Barrett has proved to be a fruitful one as Louis showed up to the Rolling Stone UK Awards looking fine as hell in a fucking custom MESH JACKET. And he had had the nerve to do this on Thanksgiving Day, just as most Americans were either running around their kitchens cooking or settling down to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I’ll tell you two things I was grateful for this year: black mesh and Louis Tomlinson’s shoulders. I’m not SAYING Louis knew he was nominated for Most Handsome Young Man this year, but he DID drop this look on us during the prime voting window, so you draw your own conclusions.
The Knuckle Tattoos
Look, Louis has always has an impressive collection of tattoos. I blow a kiss to the sky almost every day in honor of the surgeon that operated on on Louis’ arm last year after he snapped his humerus doing God knows what, thanking them for keeping the stag tattoo intact. (Seriously that scar is millimeters away from the tattoo, God bless that surgeon!) The rope tattoo around his wrist is my sentimental favorite and his It Is What It Is chest piece will always make me go a little (a lot) feral but the five knuckle tattoos he got in 2023? Those are quite possibly the hottest tattoos he’s ever gotten.
Maybe it’s because Louis has beautiful hands and these tattoos just draw attention to them. Maybe it’s because they are small and tiny and detailed. Maybe it’s just because the four tattoos on his lower knuckles represent some cryptic Illuminati shit that only Louis knows the real meaning of. I don’t know! They’re just hot! I don’t make the rules.
The Away From Home Festival celebrated its third year in 2023, and it’s been so amazing to see how it has grown year to year. There’s just something VERY HOT about the way Louis carries himself when he’s the boss, especially when it comes to being the boss of his very own festival. It’s the swagger and confident strut as he surveys his kingdom behind his Ray-Bans. It’s the way people revolve around him like the true sun of the solar system he is. It’s the way he recognizes the position of privilege he has in his career, always willing to give indie or unsigned artists a boost, be it giving them a slot in the festival or booking them as his opening act on tour or, in the case of Andrew Cushin, literally investing money in launching a debut album. It just speaks to both the generosity of his spirit and his ambitions for his career beyond music.
Speaking of his career beyond music, 2023 finally saw the long awaited launch of 28 Official Programme, or, as it’s now known 28 Clothing. Louis has been teasing us with these pieces since the first Away From Home Festival in 2021, always using our least favorite word “soon” whenever asked about when the pieces would be available to the general public and not just his inner circle. The first drop happened in August and completely sold out in minutes. Devastating for those of us who weren’t able to get our hands on one of the VERY cozy looking hoodies, but VERY sexy for newly minted Creative Director Louis. A successful festival AND a burgeoning clothing empire? That’s just too handsome for words.
One of the things I appreciate the most about Louis’ covers is the way he really makes them his own, rearranging songs to fit in with the sound of the rest of his discography and tailoring them to showcase his strengths as a vocalist. I still think about the hauntingly beautiful cover of Kings of Leon’s “Beautiful War” that he did for the 2022 tour on a regular basis. (Bring it back next year, Louis! Just for funsies!) Given that he now has two albums worth of material, Louis could have easily ditched the covers for the Faith in the Future World Tour. Instead, he added a sultry cover of the Arctic Monkeys hit “505” to the set. (Me in the audience on opening night when “505” happened: “I don’t know what song this is, but I do know it’s really fucking sexy!”) “505” is such a great choice for this era of Louis, it fits in right alongside “Written All Over Your Face” and the punk-infused rearrangement of his 2017 single “Back to You,” which was quite possibly one of the biggest surprise inclusions on the set list. Plus, because he loves drama and chaos and keeping the set list exciting for himself too, you never know when you might get a surprise inclusion of “7,” which was a fan favorite from the 2022 tour. Louis loves to keep us on our toes, okay!
And then there are his covers of One Direction songs, which are always going to be a part of Louis’ set list in one way or another, sorry to all the haters out there. He knows where he came from and is grateful for it. You really think Mr. Doncaster Pride ten percent too British Louis Tomlinson would ignore the roots that GAVE him the ability to do what he’s doing now? PLEASE.
What I love especially about “Night Changes” (Louis’ version) and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” (Louis’ version) is the way he’s taken songs that we all know in our SOULS and turned them on their head. When he debuted “Night Changes” at the AFHF in 2022, the sped up guitar infused intro confused EVERYONE as to what song it was until Louis opened his mouth and sang those familiar lyrics. Similarly, he took an already bombastic banger in “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” and infused it with even MORE bombast, adding bigger drums and more prominent guitars in the intro. And don’t get me started on how a sample of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” was added to the bridge, given how One Direction was accused of ripping it off with “Best Song Ever” back in the day. Louis’ MIND, y’all. It’s so handsome.
The Rainbow Megamix
When I first sat down to listen to Faith in the Future and started imagining what the setlist for the tour might look like, I wondered if “She is Beauty, We are World Class” and “All This Time” would make the cut. Don’t get me wrong, I adore both of those songs. They are certified BOPS but their electronic dance beats seemed at odds with the sound of the rest of the album and it was very easy (if painful) to imagine them being album-only tracks.
I couldn’t be happier that I was wrong.
On opening night, when someone leaked the set list, there was much debate over what the hell the “Megamix” could be. (Or so I was told later, I was staying offline in order to preserve my birthright of having it all be a surprise by going to the first show.) Was it a going to be a mash-up of 1D songs? A medley of Walls songs that he didn’t want to do full versions of? Was Louis just shouting out the final number of Mamma Mia since it’s called the Megamix? (He IS a known ABBA fan, I stand by this possibility, I’m just saying.) No one had any idea. It was such a delight when he played “All This Time” and I can’t fully describe what it FELT LIKE when the outro seamlessly transitioned into “She is Beauty” without missing a beat, the rainbow light display on stage turning the arena into a colorful dance hall.
Inspired by the lighting design of the whole sequence, fans quickly adopted the Megamix as the moment to wave their flags of choice around and celebrate Pride. Flags were handed out to anyone who wanted one. Light projects were organized at different venues. After the somber and reflective Pride moment that was “Only the Brave” on the last tour, the Megamix became a moment of joyous euphoria and jubilant celebration of community and Pride. That’s the only way to describe it. “The friends we make, the love it takes, is worth, is worth, is worth it all this time.”
Diving into the Barricade
Look, I am not SAYING that Louis Tomlinson is an insane person, but the man throws himself into a pit of rabidly passionate fans, most of whom camped out overnight to secure their barricade position, at the end of EVERY SHOW trusting that he’ll come out of it unharmed.
Okay, okay. He’s a completely insane person and a bit of an adrenaline junkie. And that’s why we love him.
I feel like Louis truly understands the symbiotic nature of fandom. It’s the whole “You need me and I need you” thing he often talked about early in the tour last year and any performer knows the importance of a crowd’s energy and how it can drive a show. Louis’ barricade run during the last verse of “Silver Tongues” is a direct exchange of that energy. And yes, some of the barricade runs have gotten a little rough and crossed lines (I REALLY thought they were going to lose him to the crowd in Hamburg) but for the most part they’ve been a chaotic love fest with Louis ducking around his big, burly security guards so he can throw himself into multiple points on the barricade, giving as many fans as possible to get extremely up close and personal with him. Let me tell you, it was thrilling watching the barricade from a shaky livestream on Instagram, especially when the streamer was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
And yes, sometimes Louis lost his clothes on the barricade. 99.9% of the time it was completely in good fun with Louis grinning from ear to ear as his security watched on fondly. Let me tell you, the complete and utter shock of the NYC show, where there were no screens because of windy conditions. I was in the pit but towards the back, so Louis just disappeared into the barricade and then popped back up on stage completely shirtless. The way I SCREAMED, y’all.
His Post Show Meet and Greets
Continuing the trend of getting up close and personal with his fans, Louis eschews the traditional paid pre-show meet and greets where you get a brief photo and a maybe a perfunctory conversation if you’re lucky. Instead he chooses to stop and greet fans outside the venue whenever he has the time and energy to do so after the show. There is just SOMETHING about the way that Louis interacts with fans that makes me go feral. He’s just so sweet and lovely with them. He looks people in the EYE and really listens to them. Even with all the madness that is going on around him, Louis has a knack for making people feel like they are absolutely the most important person in the world to him at this moment. Because they ARE. And that’s just so special. All sorts of interactions have come from these meet and greets from your standard group selfies and autographs to Louis’ utter betrayal when a fan put him on her Instagram Live to doing shots with fans.
And then there’s the fact that Louis often does these meet and greets in his soft and cozy post-show clothes. There’s just something about this man in a hoodie. I want to cuddle him and I want to BE cuddled by him. Is that too much to ask????
LOOK AT HIS GRAYS AND EYE CRINKLES JUST THRIVING. He’s going to be completely salt and pepper soon and I can’t wait to see it.
Finally, I think the most handsome thing about Louis is his overwhelming sense of gratitude that he’s able to do what he does for a living. It’s a quality that inspires such a fervent devotion among his fan base. Sure, he is a member of one of the biggest boy bands of all time. But as any boy band aficionado will tell you, forging a successful solo career outside of the band can be a tall order. I am sure lots of people told him he couldn’t do it. Louis himself has been very candid about questioning whether or not he make a go of it as a soloist. It took him a long time to get here in pop star years. It took an incredible amount of determination to stick to his guns and find HIS sound. The life cycle of the music industry can be so short and so fickle. But the fans have stuck by Louis through everything and he tells us every time he steps on stage how much he appreciates it and how grateful he is for the support.
As I look back at the year Louis has had, I can’t help but feel anything other than pride. Look at what he’s done! Or, as Louis put it when he took the stage at a sold out O2 in London earlier this month, look at what we’ve done. Together. He’s got everything to achieve and nothing to prove at this point. I can’t wait to see what 2024 is going to bring for him. I know it will be exciting. I know it will be fun. I know it will be handsome. Bring it the fuck on.
What’s YOUR Most Handsome Moment of 2023 for Louis? Let us know in the comments! Thanks for voting!!