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On Tuesday, Selena Gomez's follower count topped that of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and every single cog in the Kardasho-Jenner wheel. Her 72.6 million followers (as of press time) are almost double the population of California. The question on everyone's mind, however potentially impolite it may be, is, "How?"
Because frankly, Selena Gomez's record sales aren't even close to those of her nearest competitors. In 2013, the New York Times said her music was "a starchy place holder" in terms of her career, and criticized her as less talented than her two fellow former Disney stars, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus. She's an actress, but hasn't had a lead movie role since 2012's Spring Breakers (she will, however, appear in the upcoming Neighbors 2). Despite the fact that reporters continue to ask her about it, Selena Gomez has remained mostly quiet on the subject of her relationship with Justin Bieber. So what's the draw?
No one could possibly speak for nearly 70 million people at once, but the answer likely comes down to not one, but a smorgasbord of reasons. Vanity Fair posited that everything from her infrequent posting habits to her highly engaged fans and her humble, relatable attitude contribute to her popularity, though it left out the singular, unquantifiable power of being friends with Taylor Swift.
Though the fans may come for hints at her love life or selfies with Swift, what they're really getting is Selena Gomez's increasingly impeccable taste in fashion. After hiring famed celebrity stylist Kate Young (who this week was named the #1 most powerful stylist in Hollywood) she's transformed into the kind of celebrity who can not only sing or act, but land covers like W, Wonderland, and Elle. "There's an overall mood that we're going for, which is young, modern, clean, and sexy without ever being fussy," Young said in an interview with Vogue. "The clothes are effortless, and there's a lot of American sportswear influence."
So what does that look like for the most popular girl in the world? Her style can be broken down into a few different concepts:
All Black Everything
Photos: Fame Flynet
The most Selena Gomez-esque of all Selena Gomez's looks is the same standby as many celebrities (and non-celebrities): head-to-toe black. The 2014 Kids' Choice Awards (left) was the first time Selena worked with Kate Young, and the Saint Laurent jumpsuit she chose was only a taste of the many, many sexy takes on menswear to come. In October of the same year, Selena wore a similar jumpsuit to the launch party for CR Fashion Book's Issue 5 (right), this time by Louis Vuitton.
Photos L-R: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images; Julien Hekimian/Getty Images
Even with her largely simple red carpet looks and mostly-accessible street style, Selena Gomez continues to proves her interest in the industry, especially as of late. During Paris Fashion Week, she wore no less than nine looks in three days, including some of fashion's most beloved brands, from a $1,400 Vetements ensemble (which was really an ironic appropriation of the Champion sweats your dad wore around the house) to a daring off-the-shoulder blazer by Monse.
Photos L-R: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images
For better or worse, 23-year-old Selena Gomez has, and will probably continue to have for the majority of her life, the face of a 12-year-old. But unlike Ariana Grande, who exaggerates her childlike features with playful cat ears and skater skirts, Selena Gomez has a tendency to dress far beyond her years. Case in point: her tailored white blazer and pants looks at a charity gala in November 2014, and her high-neck dress at the American Music Awards shortly thereafter.
Feminine, But Not Girly
Photos L-R: Larry Busacca/Getty Images; JB Lacroix/Getty Images
On the opposite end of the spectrum, an A-line minidress is about as cutesy as Selena Gomez will dare to go. In both instances, though, the general adorableness if offset by something edgier — for instance, the vinyl fabric on the red Valentino dress and the white Ulyana Sergeenko dress' collar.
Human Disco Ball
Photos L-R: Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Jeff Vespa/Getty Images
Despite her penchant for black and white monochrome looks, Selena brings the sparkle when the occasion demands it. For this year's AMAs, she wore a red Givenchy dress, followed by a Calvin Klein dress with cutouts for the Grammys — the latter garnering more than 2.5 million likes on her Instagram.
Accessible Street Style
Photos L-R: Josiah Kamau/Getty Images; Fame Flynet
By far the most relatable, endearing characteristic of most of what Selena Gomez wears when she's simply walking around is that it's completely accessible, whether she's out on a summer day in Soho (left) or leaving her hotel during Paris Fashion Week (right). There's about a thousand percent chance that right now, every major fast-fashion retailer is carrying some version of all of the pieces above.
Whether her particular style in the past year and a half is hers or Kate Young's doing (or most likely, a collaboration between the two), it's the drive to make better, more interesting fashion choices that, despite record sales or even sheer talent, could maintain her position as the world's most popular celebrity — on Instagram and otherwise.