One of my favorite things to quote, ever, is Keke Palmer’s most meme-fied moment from 2019: “I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, but I don’t know who this man is. I mean he could be walking down the street and I wouldn’t know a thing. Sorry to this man.” She was talking about former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, and after catching up with her over the phone nearly three years later, I think I finally understand why.
Sure, Dick Cheney looks like lots of other bald men named Dick, but he also doesn’t have that same stand-out uniform that makes people instantly recognizable (a suit, like the one every other politician ever has worn, doesn’t count). And Palmer is currently obsessed with the idea of a set, simplified aesthetic. Who's inspiring her in particular? Another bald man, actually. “It’s almost giving Steve Jobs, girl,” she told me of her new wardrobe philosophy. “I just want a uniform.”
At the Miu Miu show in Paris, Palmer debuted her new styling approach in a sleek dress and blazer top with a silk tie at the neck. It wasn’t the same Miu Miu mini set we’ve seen on every other celebrity, although Palmer said, “I do still always love the super mini mini mini skirt.” It’s just that she’s grown to appreciate the more subtle aspects of Miu Miu’s collection as she’s learned to edit her closet. “My style has become very minimal and I’ve just become very minimal, even in colors. I'm still getting rid of so much clothing. I feel bad about it, because a lot of them still have tags on them. But I just said to myself, I don't care to have all this stuff. I just want to have fewer things.”
It’s an interesting approach considering how thoroughly she's in the spotlight these days thanks to her performance in Jordan Peele’s hit horror-sci-fi, Nope, which has generated potential Oscar buzz online. But there’s a distinct difference, she said, between what she’s wearing on the red carpet and what she’s wearing in her own day-to-day life. “I have a persona, my performative entertaining persona, and then my natural life, me.”
Palmer recently celebrated a birthday, and she thinks that has to do with her sudden style shift. “I think a lot of that happened in terms of me turning 29 this year. Everything's changed. I'm just keeping it simple.” She also attributes her recent obsession with simplicity to her mother, an OG minimalist. “My mom was like, I've been a minimalist before they came up with the word!” Palmer said. “And it's just so funny because my mom actually does have a uniform. Everyone who knows her, knows that. She always has a shirt, some type of little jacket and a skirt.”
Palmer is also extremely booked and busy, and she doesn't want to have spend too much time thinking about anything. After sitting front row at Miu Miu in Paris, she did a talk with SAG-AFTA about her experience working on Nope; was honored at the 2022 Ghetto Film School benefit; launched her own digital TV network, KeyTV; attended the Academy Museum Gala; and received the Artist of Distinction Award at the Newport Beach Film festival. And while she says there's always “a time and place” for more elaborate looks, she is clearly making a red carpet uniform happen, whether she fully realizes it or not.
Even in her Fashion Week and recent red carpet appearances, a clear theme has emerged. She's evidently been gravitating towards some form of sleek blazers and suit-sets, from a silk blazer vest with matching pants at New York Fashion Week to a three-piece denim suit at the KeyTV Launch to her Museum Gala Act N°1 look, which was really just a simple black pant suit underneath all that bright blue tulle. “I think it's cool when you feel like you're on your way to what looks like your own style DNA,” Palmer said.
And it's true, she is certainly on her way to a set red carpet aesthetic that feels instantly recognizable. In other words, “Sorry to this woman” is not something you'll ever catch anyone saying about a photo of Keke Palmer.