Although everyday outfit choices can reveal a lot about your values and self-image, Halloween costumes can be even more telling, according to fashion psychology instructor Dawnn Karen, founder of the Fashion Psychology Institute, which offers online courses on the topic. “Halloween is about becoming someone you wish you could embody more in everyday life,” she says. “Costumes show a quality that’s hidden below the surface—a version of who you are in the subconscious.”
Apply these theories to some of Kim Kardashian’s most iconic costumes, and you’ll see a different side of her. “Her costumes show the depth and duality of her personality,” Karen says. “The Kim who presents herself to the world has layers we don’t associate with her.”
“I’m just as strong and powerful as any man.”
Many people associate Kim Kardashian with beauty, not strength and intelligence, Karen explains. “Wonder Woman is not submissive or tender—she has all the qualities of Superman with feminine allure,” she says of the reality star’s costume. “She’s all about women’s empowerment.”
Karen goes on to hedge this choice may reflect the reality star’s subconscious desire to be a role model for young women.
“I don’t care about rules.”
In the context of the 1920’s conservatism, flappers’ short skirts and bobs bucked the norms. Kim embodies that rebellion by emulating their look, Karen says.
“I trust no one.”
To refresh your memory on Red Riding Hood: A little girl visits her grandmother, but once she arrives and does some sleuthing, she realizes a dangerous wolf is posing in the old lady’s place. “The theme is not trusting strangers,” Karen says. While it’s impossible to nail down exactly what inspired Kim to pick this costume, Karen thinks that subconsciously, the reality star might have been channelling feelings of betrayal in response to being misled.
It’s also worth noting that the bulk of her outfit is red. “In color psychology,” Karen says, “red is used to draw in the opposite sex, and it represents sexuality, power, and aggression.”
“I need some reassurance.”
The Queen of Hearts, Karen says, stands for beauty, magnetism, and idealism, but some tarot card readers regard this character as an adored daughter and indispensable sister.
“They’re always competing with each other and asking their mom who’s the favorite,” Karen says of the Kardashian sisters’ general nature, noting that Kim is the middle child. “She’s reaffirming her place in the family,” Karen says—a sign the star’s confidence may have been wavering.
On the other side of the spectrum, this costume could be interpreted more literally: Many people consider the Kardashians to be America’s version of the royals, Karen points out, noting the star’s crown and scepter. “She’s bringing that to light,” Karen says.
“You can’t touch me.”
Symbolic of perseverance and physical strength, this leopard costume channels Kim’s inner feline, Karen says, adding that characteristically, the tight, form-fitting outfit has a sensual nature.
“Negativity doesn’t affect me.”
Batman character Poison Ivy’s superpower is immunity—coincidence? Karen doesn’t think so. She sees the costume choice as a message that Kim is “immune to the bullshit,” i.e., all her haters.
“I run the world.”
Catwoman, Karen says, is manipulative and cunning, while Kim’s interpretation—dressed head to toe in black leather—gives her a dominatrix vibe. “She’s empowered,” Karen says, referring to the color black, which represents power and intimidation in color psychology. “It’s like she’s trying to dominate her opponents and naysayers.”
“I have more depth than you think.”
Part-human, part-fish, mermaids have a double identity, Karen points out. Kim’s costume represents this duality. “The person we see above the water—or in the media—is a different person than we see on [Keeping Up with the Kardashians], who is sensitive and vulnerable,” Karen says, hedging at the message this costume choice sends: “There’s a deeper side of her below the surface.”
“I’m human, too.”
Stripped down to the bare bones, without the makeup, hair, and clothing that make Kim recognizable, the reality star shows her vulnerability, Karen says. “Painting her face de-emphasizes her beauty,” she says, adding that this normalizes the star.
In 2015, Kim posted this photo of herself in her 2013 Met Gala dress with a joke about pulling off her Kim K costume. And boy, did she nail it.
“It shows she’s comfortable with herself,” Karen says of the cheeky move. “She was pregnant in the photo—when you bring life into the world, you rise above trying to prove yourself to everyone.”
This costume really ticked off Selena’s biggest fans: They questioned Kim’s right to represent the late singer, who was widely regarded as queen of Tejano music before she died of a bullet wound at age 23. Karen says Kim’s costume choice was, in ways, self-aggrandizing, since she saw herself as fit to fill big shoes. But it could also be construed as paying homage to Selena—the answer lies in Kim’s subconscious.
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