A glow-up (or glo-up, as it’s commonly spelled), is a term used for someone who has gone through a striking change in appearance. It can refer to a sudden makeover or an evolution in style over time. It can also refer to someone who has succeeded in business or reached celebrity status from a relatively blank slate. The 2010s were all about the pop culture personality glow-up, in which recognizable figures suddenly started excelling in the appearance department.
Here are 13 people that the fashion industry wasn’t paying much attention to at the beginning of this decade, but who now find themselves at its pulsing, red-hot center. Glow-ups, everyone of them.
Kim Kardashian West
Pre-2010, top designers didn’t dress Kim Kardashian West. She was a mere reality T.V. star then, not a mogul, two-time Vogue cover star, and Met gala mainstay. The first time she attended the Met gala was in 2013 and she’s since admitted that she cried afterwards because she was so nervous. But look at her now: chummy with Donatella Versace and Rick Owens, owner and operator of a hugely successful beauty brand and a shapewear label, vintage fashion collector, and red carpet star.
Rihanna most definitely made all the fashion moves in the 2010s. Hers was by far the most impressive and inspiring fashion glow-up of the decade, not only because of her style evolution (from bedazzled halter tops and low-slung jeans to oversized Balenciaga suits and Manolo Blahniks) but also because she became the first black woman to helm her own luxury fashion label at LVMH. Also! She completely changed the beauty and lingerie businesses for the better by making them more inclusive.
When this former stripper and reality T.V. star stepped out in a trench coat that revealed her thigh tattoo at Alexander Wang’s New York Fashion Week show in February 2018 heads turned. Cardi B spent the next 18 months building up some serious fashion cred, wearing Thom Browne, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and just about every other important label that you can think of. The 2020s could be even brighter: The current Vogue cover star is about to release her next album.
Some may argue that Jared Leto has long been cool, but he transformed his look in a major way over the last couple of years. Google his name + 2007 or 2008 and you’ll see photos of a spiky-haired, moto jacket-wearing punk. Today, Leto is 100% Guccified with favorite looks that include grandma babushkas, statement t-shirts, and printed dresses over pants.
Celine Dion is pop royalty and has been since the late ’90s, but back in her “Heart Will Go On” days, we weren’t talking about her head-to-toe Paris couture. Now, she’s front row at all the shows—Vetements, Christian Dior, and Valentino, included.
Rewind to 2010 and Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana, rocking the skinny jeans, skinny scarves, and tight tank tops of the day. Circa now, she’s now a muse for Jeremy Scott and Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello.
At the start of the decade Victoria Beckham put her Spice Girls days far behind her and launched a namesake label that would become one of the most well-regarded in the business. Ten years in, her eponymous brand is among London’s must-see shows, and she’s got a beauty label, to boot.
This glow-up is more recent, but Katie Holmes is a must mention. The actress was responsible for the year’s most viral fashion moment. Khaite’s very chic, very expensive cashmere bra and matching cardigan sold out in minutes when this paparazzi shot started making the rounds.
Once upon a time, this Moncler puffer gown-wearing actor with a full face of makeup was a shy, slightly punk-ish kid starring in Harry Potter movies. Ezra Miller came out as queer in 2012 and embraced his love for fashion. Today, he’s one of the red carpet’s most exciting personalities.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross has always been fabulous. But the actress has certainly upped the fashion ante over the last 10 years. As host of the 2018 American Music Awards, she changed outfits no less than ten times. During the night, she showcased black designers from Dapper Dan-designed Gucci to Carlie Cushnie and Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss.
It all started with a Tommy Ton photo circa 2009. In the picture, Virgil Abloh poses with Kanye West and their crew, an essentially unknown DJ with a flair for Moncler vest and red glasses. In the meantime, of course, Abloh has become one of the most influential and successful designers of the decade, launching his label Off-White and becoming the first African-American man to lead a major French fashion house as the artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton.
Jeff Goldblum has long been irresistible—rewatch The Big Chill for proof—but his swagger has definitely sharpened in the 2010s. The internet’s number one zaddie rocks printed suits and Prada shirts and recently landed himself a Tiffany & Co. campaign.
We can’t talk about 2010s glow-ups without discussing “the Markle sparkle.” Meghan Markle began starring in Suits in 2011, but she flew relatively under-the-radar until Prince Harry came along. Now, whether she wears Stella McCartney, Erdem, or more affordable labels, whatever she’s seen in instantly sells out. Cleverly, she’s started her own philanthropic fashion project with her good friend Misha Nonoo.