Kim Kardashian may be a fashion icon today, but she hasn’t always been this respected in the industry.
Kardashian was a reality star from Calabasas who had a thing for body-con and big logos before she started opening multi-billion-dollar clothing businesses and receiving style-related awards from the CFDA and People’s Choice Awards.
“I love my worst moments now. I look back and have to laugh; that was so fun. Kardashian told Vogue Arabia in 2018, what I was then, what I could afford and what I knew back then.
Since then, the star has reworked her image multiple times and has always proven to be ahead of the trends – even if some looks take longer to catch on than others (tiny sunglasses and bike shorts, anyone?)
Below is a comprehensive overview of Kim Kardashian’s ever-evolving style, from her pre-celebrity days to her rise on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, her marriage to Kanye West, and her sexy looks as a single mom.
Trendy teenager (1990s – 2000)
Even before she was a household name, Kardashian had an eye for trends.
Growing up in star-studded Los Angeles, the aspiring reality star ran in the same circles as the Hiltons, Jacksons, and Richies and always dressed to impress.
Kardashian has posted numerous vintage photos of her ’90s showcasing her tight eyebrows, baggy jeans and dark lipstick, even revealing that she once paid her father Robert Kardashian to take makeup lessons so she wouldn’t “look like a clown”.
Friend of Paris Hilton (2000 – 2007)
As she rose to fame with her relationship with rapper Ray J, Kardashian began hitting the red carpets with plunging necklines and skintight looks that would soon become her signature look.
While struggling to make a name for herself in the industry, she put her love of fashion to work by tidying the closets of celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Serena Williams, and BFF Paris Hilton, and learned more about labels in the process.
She and Hilton were a constant presence on the party scene, often featured with matching designer looks, oversized sunglasses, and lots of lip gloss.
Other style staples of the star during this period included babydoll dresses, wide belts, and knee-high boots.
Body-con bomb (2007 – 2009)
In 2007, Kardashian’s sex tape with her ex-boyfriend Ray J leaked and Kardashian had a reality show on E! along with her six siblings mother Kris Jenner and stepfather Caitlyn Jenner.
“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” made the family superstars overnight, with audiences’ hilarious dynamics, Valley Girl voices, and glamorous outfits.
“Oh my god, okay, this is so embarrassing,” Kardashian told Vogue in 2019, looking at the outfit she wore for the series premiere. “I probably borrowed this dress. [family store] Dash kept the tag open or relabeled and then returned it.”
Kim – who was dating football player Reggie Bush at the time – emerged as the star of the show and leaned into her on-screen glamorous persona by wearing almost exclusively tacky, curve-hugging party looks.
Hollywood star (2009 – 2012)
As she’s become a household name, Kardashian’s looks have gotten sleeker and more stylish. Bangs started experimenting with flashy buns, and in 2009 she made her first big hair change with an unforgettable honey blonde dye job.
When she started dating basketball star Kris Humphries in 2010, Kardashian started embracing smoky eye makeup, neon colors, pavé diamond jewelry, and all things glitzy.
At the couple’s wedding in 2011, Kardashian was a total princess in a dramatic Vera Wang ball gown, even wearing a fancy bridal headpiece down the aisle.
Although their marriage only lasted 72 days, her love of heavy contours and dramatic silhouettes would continue.
Kanye West’s muse (2012 – 2014)
In 2012, Kardashian began dating celebrity fashion-obsessed Kanye West, whom she would go on to marry. She infamously overhauled her entire wardrobe, removing everything that didn’t meet her standards, including hundreds of pairs of shoes.
While Kardashian admitted that cleaning the closet made her cry, her makeup wasn’t all that painful. The rapper also introduced her to the fashion world’s top designers, dressing her up with brands like Lanvin and Balmain, and giving Kardashian her first real taste of fashion because not many designers had had an interest in working with the curvy star before.
It was West who linked Kardashian with Riccardo Tisci (the creative director of Givenchy at the time), laying the foundation for a friendship that has shaped a large part of Kardashian’s fashion timeline. Tisci would go on to dress the Kardashian for her first Met Gala in 2013, making her a controversial floral dress that fired up countless boobs and made the then-pregnant star cry on her way home.
As she and West prepared for their 2014 wedding after welcoming their first child, North, in 2013, Kardashian went blonde again and started adding more neutral, understated looks to her closet.
Yeezy model (2014 – 2016)
Kardashian took on the role of not only wife and mother but also model while marrying West.
The entire Kardashian family was at hand when the Grammy-winning Kardashian launched the Yeezy brand in 2015 and the new Miss West began mixing her husband’s designs into her monochrome casual look.
Her sharpest transformation came in 2015 when Kardashian bleached her hair platinum blonde for her Paris Fashion Week trip.
“I’d let them dress me up like a doll, I didn’t care,” Kardashian told Vogue of her mane makeup. “I knew between Ricardo and Carine [Roitfeld] and Kanye were going to make me look like the most stylish person ever, and they did. Look at that look. I liked it.”
Sexy king (2016 – 2019)
After Kardashian welcomed her second child, Saint West—and in the years before her shapewear brand Skims launched in 2019—she leaned more towards revealing skin styles. It’s become a constant joke that she couldn’t keep her clothes on during this time, when Kardashian sarcastically accepted a CFDA Fashion Award in 2018 and said she was “shocked” to be honored considering she was “nude most of the time”.
Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint while in Paris for fashion week in 2016 and briefly swore on expensive and flashy jewelry after her 20-carat engagement ring was stolen, among other jewelry.
But she soon returned to her glamorous styles, flaunting daring looks like thigh-high silver boots and a sheer slip dress teamed with a see-through vintage John Galliano LBD.
She continued to credit her husband with sexier styles than ever before. “My best looks are always the ones she puts together,” Kardashian told Vogue in her “73 Questions” interview in 2019.
My designer darling (2019 – 2021)
Kardashian made her biggest splash ever—at least in terms of style—at the 2019 Met Gala, where she donned the designer’s wet-look Thierry Mugler dress that marked her first creation in 20 years. Under the design? A waist-busting corset that requires her to take breathing lessons before the big night and stay upright throughout the prom. Talk about suffering for fashion!
But it seems the main style moment marked the beginning of the end for Kimye; On an episode of “KUWTK”, West argued that the dress was “too sexy” for the red carpet. Kardashian kept her ground by giving fans a rare glimpse of the cracks forming in the couple’s bond.
Mugler, meanwhile, was clearly impressed; After the Met, Kardashian stepped forward with a number of archival styles from her own label and took other rare vintage looks from Versace, Alexander McQueen, and Alaïa.
Futuristic alien Barbie (2021 – present)
After turning to West for a decade for fashion advice, Kardashian had to reinvent her looks after her divorce and has been open about her struggles to find her own style identity.
On an episode of Hulu’s “Kardashians,” she told her sister Kourtney, “‘What am I going to wear? ”
It didn’t help that West made very clear his disdain for some of her choices, by comparing one of her own style looks to Marge Simpson and saying that another had made her “very angry”. At one point, she even offered to “drop everything” to become her stylist again.
Kardashian dismissed it, announcing that in 2022 her new era would be defined by her “futuristic alien Barbie” aesthetic – sporty sunglasses, bright tight catsuits, and lots of pink.
After leaning on Balenciaga for most of these appearances, she was selected as a runway model and campaign star for the record label, but she briefly paused her partnership that year due to the house’s advertising scandal that year featuring children posing with BDSM-style teddy bears.
In late 2022, Kardashian teamed up with Dolce & Gabbana for a vintage-inspired capsule collection called “Ciao, Kim” and started a feud with Kourtney, who had recently worked with the brand on her wedding wardrobe.
Time will tell what looks Kardashian tries out next, but one thing’s for sure: her style won’t stay the same forever.