From an all-black Balenciaga outfit to a Barbiecore bodysuit on SNL, Kim Kardashian is no stranger to experimenting with bold outfits. The reality star has been known to turn heads over the years thanks to her signature style of body-hugging clothing and sexy looks, but in more recent months she’s traded in her Yeezy outfits for slouchy jumpsuits and monochromatic outfits, which has led many of us to wonder how this drastic pivot came to be.
While there isn’t one definitive answer as to why she seems to have made a complete 180 with her style, we’re thinking that part of the huge changeup in her fashion choices could be related to her ongoing divorce from Kanye West (who legally changed his name to “Ye” last year), who used to style her.
And although some fashion lovers on the internet have decried her outfits, we’d like to acknowledge that yes, Kim is taking some *interesting* risks with her clothing, but it’s indicative of her agency now that she no longer has someone who may be controlling her image — it’s a form of freedom that we’ve never really seen from Kim before. And even if she’s not always landing on the best-dressed lists, we think that having the power to control her own image via her clothing is incredibly empowering and deserves to be celebrated.
Did Kanye West want Kim Kardashian to dress a certain way during their relationship?
Before we can look at Kim’s current style, we have to go back to her early courtship with Kanye. When the former couple first became an item, the rapper was not subtle about wanting to change how his partner dressed. He voiced his opinion on what he thought was cool or not for Kim to wear in the most Kanye of ways possible — he once famously ordered her to trade in her oversized sunglasses for tiny ones, by sending her a lengthy email. And another time, he jetted off to Paris for 24 hours to style her after seeing paparazzi photos of her that he did not like.
It wasn’t a secret that the “Bound 2” musician had a specific vision in mind for how Kim needed to look in order to fit the image he had constructed for her, selecting meticulously crafted ‘fits for her like a real-life Barbie doll.
“I always thought I had really good style — until I met my husband and he told me that I had the worst style,” Kim once shared in 2018. “He was really nice about it and cleaned out my whole closet.”
For most of us, clothing isn’t just the items we put on our bodies, they are an extension of how we feel about ourselves and the way we want to be perceived as we move through the world. And for Kim, this moment of loss, was naturally, quite upsetting. She recalled breaking down when he tossed hundreds of her shoes away: “I probably had 250 pairs of shoes and when we were done cleaning it out, I had two pairs left and I cried.”
Kanye introduced Kim to the world of high fashion
Although looking back it appeared to be distressing having a whole new image thrust upon her, Kim has previously said there were upsides to Kanye styling her. Due to his influence, she was able to become integrated into the world of high fashion.
“There were racks of clothes of designers I have never heard of before like Lanvin and Givenchy. I didn’t know that then,” she said of her then-husband introducing her to the luxury fashion houses. “I wanted to learn … [and] when he did that, he wanted to teach me.”
This association with big-name luxury designers catapulted Kim into exclusive fashion events, and for the first time, back in 2013, she attended the Met Gala. She attended again in the years that followed, but Kanye was not always quiet in expressing his opinions on some of Kim’s outfit choices on fashion’s biggest night. Before the 2019 Met Gala, Kanye couldn’t bite his tongue during one of Kim’s final fittings, in a moment that revealed just how much his thoughts on what she wore seemed to affect her.
While trying on her corseted outfit by Thierry Mugler, Kanye voiced his dislike for the tight dress in an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
I got to a point where I would just like ask him for advice for everything even down to what I wear
“So the night before the Met, you’re gonna come in here and say that you’re not into a corset bust? I’m getting really bad anxiety. What are you talking about?” Kim asked. “I don’t need any more negative energy for you to now say that you’re not into me in a tight dress,” she said.
But it wasn’t enough to sway Kanye.
“You are my wife, and it affects me when pictures are too sexy,” Kanye responded. But luckily, Kim didn’t back down.
“You built me up to be this sexy person and confidence and all this stuff,” she said. “And just because you’re on a journey and you’re on a transformation doesn’t mean that I’m in the same spot with you.”
You would think after this moment, Kim would have allowed herself not to feel pressured fashion-wise. But after years of him fashioning an image for her, to an extent it seemed she had become reliant on his opinion. And shortly after the couple split, she admitted to having a bit of an identity crisis with her clothes.
“I got to a point where I would just like ask him for advice for everything even down to what I wear,” Kim confessed to her sister Kourtney on an episode of The Kardashians. “Even now I’m having like panic attacks like, ‘What do I wear?'”
Related: Met Gala 2022: The best beauty looks.
Kim takes back control by dressing how she wants
It may have taken her a bit of time since separating from her ex to start dressing entirely differently, but in this new era of Kim’s style, we’re seeing her have more fun with fashion than ever before. Looks that she wouldn’t have dared to wear a year or two ago, she’s now sporting in front of the cameras with unabashed confidence.
There’s been a noticeable shift, not only in what she is choosing to wear but also her hilarious reactions to criticism around some of her selections. While at one point she may have been upset by other people’s opinions, it looks like she’s now at a place where she doesn’t let them affect her. There’s no better example than her response to Kanye’s angry text messages about an orange leather jumpsuit by Prada that she sported in Milan earlier this year.
“The orange look made me so mad, would have went to jail before I went out in that,” he texted Kim, who read his message aloud to her publicist.
But Kim brushed it off, and if anything, her response was nothing short of iconic.
“I’ll text him back and be like, ‘You know, you have been wearing those boots for a long time so when you’re ready to change your outfit, let me know and then you can have advice on mine.'”
Stepping into her own style
From stunning on the runway at the Dolce and Gabanna show to turning look after look out at Paris Fashion Week, it’s clear Kim is no longer afraid to dress however she wants. She’s taking her time to experiment with new styles and unconventional outfit choices, and while sometimes they’re not our personal faves, it’s about the fact that she has a choice.
The Skims founder is in a new season of life with owning her outfits, and all of the styles are fully 100 per cent Kim.