As a key feature of the contemporary political landscape, populism stands as one of the most contentious concepts in political science. This article presents a critique of dominant conceptions of populism – as ideology, logic, discourse and strategy/organisation – and introduces the category of ‘political style’ as a new compelling way of thinking about the phenomenon. We argue that this new category captures an important dimension of contemporary populism that is missed by rival approaches. In doing so, we put forward an inductive model of populism as a political style and contextualise it within the increasingly stylised and mediatised milieu of contemporary politics by focusing on its performative features. We conclude by considering how this concept allows us to understand how populism appears across the political spectrum, how it translates into the political mainstream and its implications for democratic politics.