Kanye West Is The Reason That Kim Kardashian Is Considered A Style Icon

By Meghan Dillon··  6 min read
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Whether you love her, hate her, or fall somewhere in between, there’s no denying that Kim Kardashian is a fashion icon.

She’s in the headlines nearly every day due to her messy divorce from Kanye West and her new relationship with Pete Davidson. Since she started dating Kanye in 2011, it’s easy for fans to forget what she was like before he came into her life. Looking back, you can see how much his presence in her life impacted her fashion choices.

Kim’s Style Before Kanye

When the first season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians premiered in 2007, Kim's style consisted of clothing like tracksuits, bodycon dresses, animal print, low cut tops, colorful shoes, and skinny jeans. She worked as a wardrobe stylist and boutique owner (remember the D.A.S.H era?) at the time, but her sense of style looked more like she was trying to be a Las Vegas club girl than a chic young lady. For example, the three outfits below make her look like a 17 year old, not the 27 year old she was.

Kim Kardashian at the Nefarious Fine Jewelry Spring 2007 Collection and Holiday Party on December 11, 2006 at Shag, Hollywood, CA
Kim Kardashian at the Nefarious Fine Jewelry Spring 2007 Collection and Holiday Party at Shag, Hollywood, CA.
Kim Kardashian at the William Rast Spring 2007 Street Sexy Fashion Show. Social Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA. 10-17-06
Kim Kardashian at the William Rast Spring 2007 Street Sexy Fashion Show in Los Angeles, CA.
Kim Kardashian at 2007 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall Collection. Smashbox Studios, Culver City, CA. 03-20-07
Kim Kardashian at the 2007 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall Collection in Culver City, CA.

Kim launched the Kardashian Kollection at Sears in 2011 with sisters Kourtney and Khloe (which closed in 2015). At the time, it was relatively easy for fans to remake some of her looks with clothes from stores like Forever 21, Wet Seal, and Charlotte Russe. However, her style changed when Kanye West came into the picture in the fall of 2011.

Kanye West Gave Kim a Fashion Glow-Up

Kim made the transition from "kinda cute" to "stylish" when she started dating Kanye. Kim told CNN, "Before my husband and I started dating, he brought me Carine Roitfeld's coffee table book [Irreverent] and was like, 'You should be studying this book, this is like the fashion bible.'"

Kanye was very involved in giving Kim a fashion makeover. Many fans will remember when he cleaned out her closet during a 2012 episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians

“I always thought I had really good style – until I met my husband and he told me that I had the worst style,” Kim recalled. “He was really nice about it and cleaned out my whole closet.”

She says "nice," even though it made her cry. “I probably had 250 pairs of shoes and when we were done cleaning it out, I had two pairs left and I cried,” Kim said.

Fortunately for her, Kanye soon filled her closet with new (and better) items. “There were racks of clothes of designers I have never heard of before like Lanvin and Givenchy. I didn’t know that then. I kept everything because it was really sentimental to me,” Kim said.

“I wanted to learn,” she added. “When he did that, he wanted to teach me.”

One of the main things Kanye taught her was that less is more, as she said, "Before, I used to always think more is more, and I used to accessorize and wear bracelets and earrings and necklaces. I used to do it all. Now I definitely understand how much cooler it is just to be a little bit simpler."

He also taught her to embrace neutral colors, more timeless silhouettes, and a more minimalistic aesthetic. 

And Kanye kept on educating Kim. In 2018, Kim revealed that Kanye would email her with fashion instructions and mood-boards to help her stand on top of the trends.

“He sent me a whole email like, ‘You cannot wear big glasses anymore. It’s all about tiny little glasses,'” Kim said. “He sent me, like, millions of ’90s photos with tiny little glasses like this.” So Kim started wearing small sunglasses.

Kanye Got Kim into the World of High Fashion

It was because of Kanye that Kim broke into high fashion (no designer wanted to dress her because she was a trashy reality tv star). Kanye introduced Kim to top designers like Givenchy. Basically, Riccardo Tisci, the former creative director of Givenchy, did Kanye a favor because they were friends. Tisci told People about how Kanye introduced Kim to him. 

"Kanye is a friend for seven years," said Tisci. "So when he called me up and said, 'I'm dating a girl; I want you to meet her,' I jumped. She's intelligent, sweet, beautiful. She's the girlfriend of my friend. I'm not into judgment. She started coming to my shows, and some people criticized me. But I love Kanye and now I love Kim, and I didn't care what people thought."

Kim is now friends with these designers and regularly attends their shows.

Kanye also got Kim onto the Met Gala red carpet in 2013 when he brought her as his plus one. Kim had not previously attended because Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue and co-chair of the gala, reportedly didn't want reality stars to attend. Kim was only permitted to attend because Kanye was headlining the event.

In 2019, Kim reminisced about her experience on Twitter: "I was Kanye's plus one & so nervous! I didn't know anyone & I'm sure no one wanted me there lol. I did my own lipstick & the color is so off. I went home & cried after of insecurity but this is one of my fave looks now.” Kim has since become a regular Met Gala attendee.

Kim wore some of her most iconic outfits while she was with Kanye, but will her style change now that they’re no longer a couple?

How Her Style Has Changed After Kanye

It’s been over a year since Kim filed for divorce from Kanye and only a few weeks since she’s been declared "legally single," but we’ve already seen her style evolve since her split from him. The most obvious change is that she has gone beyond wearing only neutrals and is wearing more bold, colorful outfits. Though many of her outfits are much less revealing than they were in her twenties, she’s showing a little more skin than she did when she was married to Kanye. Nobody does a classy yet sexy look quite like Kim Kardashian, and we hope she continues that aesthetic with a little more color in the future.

Closing Thoughts

Many fans have forgotten what Kim Kardashian was like before she started dating Kanye West and during the pre-Instagram days of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Looking back, you can see how much her style has changed, and it will be interesting to see what the next era of Kim’s style will look like.

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