How Will Kim Kardashian Dress Without Kanye Controlling Her Closet?

Sam Reed
·6 min read
What Will Kim Wear without Ye?
What Will Kim Wear without Ye?

Getty Images

In 2018, Kim Kardashian revealed on an episode of her family's long-standing reality series, Keeping up with the Kardashians, that her husband, Kanye West, sends her emails dictating what she is, and is not, to wear. His most recent instructions? To only wear itty-bitty, Matrix-style sunglasses.

"[Kanye] sent me a whole email like, 'You cannot wear big glasses anymore. It's all about tiny little glasses,'" Kardashian said on the episode. "He sent me, like, millions of '90s photos with tiny little glasses like this," she added, showing off the specs.

While this may be normal behavior for a fashion editor preparing for a '90s-inspired photoshoot, it is not normal behavior for a husband.

And now, after six years of marriage, the couple is reportedly headed toward divorce — a move that is at once shocking (was it not two months ago that Kanye gifted his wife a hologram of her deceased father for her birthday?), but not entirely unexpected. Kanye's public image has slowly unraveled in the past four years following controversial outbursts and tweets, his open battle with bipolar disorder, as well as his affection for soon-to-be former President Donald Trump, who later became his opponent when he launched his own unsuccessful campaign in 2020. And while Kim remained mum on even his most problematic moments, there was speculation that in private (whatever that means for a woman who documents nearly every moment of her life), she had had enough.

Now, all we want to know — not who they'll date next (though if you're curious, Deux Moi is on it), or whether Kim will go shopping for "real" furniture and a jacuzzi in Kanye's absence — is how will she dress?

Kanye's history of controlling behavior regarding what Kim puts on her body is long and well-documented, often thought of as a quintessentially Kanye "quirk." Kim often described his actions with a laugh, allowing the audience to dismiss his possessiveness and need to manipulate her image in the Ye-approved mold. "He is giving me a full clothing makeover," Kim said on Keeping Up with the Kardashians in the early days of their courtship, when her signature style began to evolve from jewel-tone bodycon dresses with big barrel curls and stilettos to bodycon separates with with angular bobs and sneakers. "Kanye's definitely inspired me to be a little bit more of an individual. I think my style is just evolving and changing and I think it should."

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"I always thought I had really good style — until I met my husband and he told me that I had the worst style," Kardashian elaborated during a 2018 panel hosted by Business of Fashion. "He was really nice about it and cleaned out my whole closet."

After he threw away more than 250 pairs of her shoes, though, she says she cried. (That much was not revealed on the show.) But he made it up to her, apparently, by introducing the L.A.-based reality star, whose former boss Paris Hilton pretty much kept Juicy Couture in business, to the world of European luxury brands. "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. "I wanted to learn ... [and] when he did that, he wanted to teach me."

In 2013, when Kardashian was still on the fringes of the A-list crowd, West invited her to the Met Gala as his plus-one. Though she was ridiculed for her floral, skintight "couch dress," which Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci insisted she wear, the fashion world began to consider her as a serious player — someone worthy of the attentions of the best of the best. Somewhere along the way, she had made the leap from Kitson darling to the ultra-exclusive realm of high-fashion.

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Given Kardashian's relationships with the who's who of the luxury world — from Riccardo Tisci to Olivier Rousteing to Donatella Versace — it's difficult to imagine that she would return to the early '00s "SoCal Gurl" aesthetic that haunts many a former Disney Channel star's red carpet memories (as well as all of my photos from middle school).

If the rumors are true that Kimye have been separated for a few months (at the very least), then we could assume that Kim's wardrobe, and especially her loungewear and intimates line, have not been given the Kanye email treatment of late. But his influence on his soon-to-be ex-wife's style is still highly recognizable.

Kim's most recent Instagrams show her wearing her now-signature minimalist aesthetic, that, for better or worse, was ushered in by Kanye. Adjacent to a photo of the star wearing a custom Schiaparelli gown (featuring a slick green six-pack bodice worthy of the Hulk himself) are images of her in monochromatic 'fits in earthy shades of brown, gray, and ocean blue. Even her collection of Skims velour tracksuits, an overt homage to the pre-Kanye days when Kardashian was better known as Paris Hilton's assistant, come in what can only be described as the Yeezy color palette: beige, charcoal, sienna, and a deep mauve.

One key element of Kim's style that was once Ye-approved, but subsequently discouraged, is her sex appeal. At the 2019 Met Gala, Kanye dunked on Kim's latex Mugler look which cinched her waist with a corset and elevated her bosom — a classic Kardashian silhouette if there ever was one — just hours before she was to walk the red carpet.

"I went through this transition where being a rapper, looking at all these girls and looking at my wife, like, 'Oh my girl needs to be just like the other girls showing their body off,'" he said on an episode of KUWTK about the gala that aired later that year. "I didn't realize that that was affecting my soul and my spirit as someone who is married and the father of, now … about to be four kids. A corset is a form of underwear — it's hot, for who though?"

Given some time, Kim may find her own way, mixing the old — her L.A. girl roots and unabashedly sexy aesthetic — with the minimalism that Kanye introduced along the way. No matter what she chooses, though, she will be free.

About three weeks ago, during a family vacation that was largely dragged on social media as careless and offensively ignorant of the times we're living in, Kim posted a photo of herself standing on a paddleboard.

She wore Yeezy sneakers, paired with large sunglasses.