Kim Kardashian: How Pregnancy Changes Your Style

photo: SplashNewsKim Kardashian is a blonde, but that’s not the only thing that’s different about the 32-year-old. In a photo posted Wednesday, the reality star wore an olive-green button-down long-sleeved shirt, black jeans, and flats. While the outfit was decidedly off-brand for Kardashian, it was perfect for disguising breast milk stains and squatting to secure a baby carrier—and if you’re a new mom, you may (gasp) relate to her.

Everyone talks about post-baby body anxiety, but the flipside is that a new shape and new priorities forces you to rethink your fashion philosophy. In the case of Kardashian, it’s a bit of a revelation. Her body is her brand and one that certain, ahem, business partners have a vested interest in. Or at least, that seemed to be the case back in those early episodes of "Keeping up With the Kardashians" when her mom called the shots on her public perception. Could it be that motherhood has given Kardashian the freedom to have a little more fun, and do a little less business, when it comes to presentation?

That identity shift is something many women can relate to after childbirth (though perhaps on a much smaller scale.) Hormonal highs and lows trigger a range of emotions and physical changes, and it can be challenging for women to reconcile their identities (girlfriend, newlywed, single girl) with their new one as “mother.” And as life evolves to make room for a baby, one’s relationship with fashion does, too. If clothing is a reflection of our insides, Kardashian’s post-baby look reflects her intention to live on her own terms now. Motherhood is the best outfit she’s ever worn.   

Getty Images Gone are the sheer, low-cut tops and peplum that Kardashian favored throughout most of her pregnancy. And so are those cropped bustiers, Herve Leger dresses, and one-shoulder ball gowns she used to wear like pajamas. Pre-baby Kardashian always dressed for her own success, but she turned off upscale designers who famously refused to dress her for magazine covers, deeming her too, let’s say, literal for their avant-garde tastes. Despite the pricey designer labels, Kardashian wasn’t exactly high fashion. 

It was only until she and Kanye West announced her pregnancy in December 2012 that Kardashian’s relationship with style got interesting. Fans of her straightforward flaunt-your-booty fashion sensibility deemed her designer monochromatic menswear suits unflattering, while culture watchers looked for a deeper meaning. Some claimed Kardashian’s refusal to wear maternity clothes was a denial of the significant event that was taking place inside her body and a discomfort with her new self. Kardashian wrote about her struggle on her Celebuzz blog, “I’ve found that I’ve gained inches and I’ve gotten wider but my belly hasn’t popped yet, so I struggle finding things that don’t make me look heavy. Some days my baby bump really shows, and some days it doesn’t… so I never really know what I’m going to look like."

In February, high fashion photographer Bruce Weber shot Kardashian for Du Jour magazine. Although the old Kim shone through (in the interview, she swore off flats), she bore fuller eyebrows and a simple white bikini and a bed sheet. She also spoke of the excitement of impending motherhood, the desire for a more private life, and even ending her career in reality television.

That didn’t happen, but her first post-baby appearance was step in the right direction. In June, she emerged, with new baby North in tow, wearing a denim button-down shirt, jeans, boots, and a flannel tied around her waist, 90’s style. Although she was walking into an LA hospital for a baby checkup, the old Kardashian would have at least worn makeup or stopped to smile and wave to the cameras. But she was a mom on a mission.

Getty Images Non-Kardashian women contend with their own style sacrifices. With no time to scour YouTube for "fishtail braid tutorials," messy buns become the uniform hairstyle (on good days, they're "chignons"), color ceases to exist because black covers spit-up, and stilettos are a foreign concept when you're sprinting to the doctor's office. In a sense, it's refreshing: No longer enslaved to trends (no time to read style blogs, anyway), new motherhood frees you up to explore fashion in a more authentic way.

Example: Kardashian’s latest photo spread for CR Fashion Book, was unlike any she’d ever done. Armed with pink gloves and lips covered grotesquely in red jam, her dead-pan stare suggests a newfound sense of humor. For the first time, the meticulously-manicured Kim Kardashian appears quirky rather than sexy, and it suits her.