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Animal prints are in again – that is, if you’re willing to accept that they were never out in the first place. Animal print clothes always seem to pop in and out, so you can always be confident when you have a few tried and tested animal print fashion staples in your closet.
Rocking animal and leopard prints is the sign of a true fashionista, because you’re effectively toeing the line between dangerous and tacky. Managing to stay on the right side of animal print fashion is a mark of true sophistication.
That being said, there isn’t just one way to wear animal prints. You can keep it small and subtle for day-to-day office wear, or even wear leopard prints head to toe and get everyone’s attention. Do what you’re comfortable with, but also feel free to play around!
So how to wear animal prints like a real fashion editor? We have put together a style guide that’ll make you feel comfortable and cool yet audacious in all manner of animal print clothes.
Animal Prints in Fashion: Contents
To begin with, we’ve gathered the very best and wildest leopard print dresses, to get you started on this animal print journey.
1. Bijou Leopard Print Wrap Dress
We’re starting off with a more conservative take on leopard print dresses that can help ease anyone into the trend. The yellowish tint makes for a more unique animal print, while the length of the dress and the ¾ puffed sleeves keep things elegant and appropriate for any occasion. You can order this animal print dress from Shopbop.
2. Leopard Print Mini Dress
Now we’re starting to get a little wild and sexy. Show off your summer tan with the high slit on this gorgeous leopard print dress. Long sleeves tone down the overt sexiness of the plunging neckline and short length. You can buy this number from Forward.
3. Cowl Slip Leopard Print Dress
This dress shows that leopard print dresses can be both sexy yet demure. This strappy dress has a slit around the leg and a cowl neck that elevate what would otherwise be a simple design. Pair it with a kitten heel for a night out! This animal print dress is available at Revolve.
4. ’80s Leopard Print Mini Dress
Leopard prints take on an Eighties edge with this red-toned dress, thanks to strong shoulders. Despite the short length this dress isn’t too revealing, since the neckline is high and serious. Style this animal print dress more casually with heavy combat boots or a pair of black converses. It is sold online via Net-a-Porter.
5. Wrap Leopard Print Dress
Carefreeness is the first word that comes to mind with this wrap take on animal print dresses. A smaller animal print and a more cheerful color keep things airy, while the short flouncy hem and wrap design are purely adorable. This dress can be purchased at H&M.
6. Sporty Mini Leopard Print Dress
This is a colorful and sexy take on leopard print dresses that will keep you standing out from the crowd. It embraces the clubbiness of leopard prints, with a racer-back design and leg-baring length. You can find it at Net-a-Porter.
7. Off-The-Shoulder Leopard Print Sundress
Enjoy the beautiful weather on a sunny day with this casual yet pretty take on leopard print dresses. The off-the-shoulder design gives a light, boho vibe to the look that is perfect to pair with some espadrilles and a sun hat. Get it from Shopbop!
8. Classy Leopard Print Wrap Dress
Classy isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind with animal print dresses, but this is an easy exception. The long sleeves, loose fit, and adjustable V-neckline are elegant and beautiful, while the length means that you can style it casually with a pair of flats or bring it up a notch with a pump. You can buy this dress from Stories.
9. Plunge Front Leopard Print Skater Dress
This colorful take on smaller leopard prints is undeniably sexy and ready for the club. This short animal print dress has a comfortable fit, with a cinched-in waist with plunging neckline to flatter the curves. You can order it directly from ASOS.
10. Prim Leopard Print Dress
This is a take on leopard print dresses that will keep you feeling feminine and demure. It is made of a gorgeous silk in a blue print, with cute ruffled details and longer sleeves. The midi-length is appropriate for both the office and a date. It is available for sale at Farfetch.
11. Swishy Leopard Print Mini Dress
Silk dresses are the best option if you want to feel taken care of. This leopard print dress swishes and turns, thanks to a draped design, so it is an absolute must for nights out dancing. It’s a fun and flirty take on leopard prints with a short length, plunging neckline, and spaghetti straps. You can buy it from Shopbop.
From snakeskin prints to giraffe and leopard prints, animal patterns have always been considered quite tacky for wearing despite the big dose of luxury they radiate. They were proudly introduced to high fashion thanks to Christian Dior back in 1947, who created a range of fascinating animal print accessories for his muse Mitzah Bricard, breaking the norms and serving as inspiration for many.
Later in the ‘60s and the ‘80s, leopard prints were the staple of rock stars, while in this day and age they have managed to become wardrobe classics for any fashionista. Love it or hate it, at some point in your life you have or are going to dare to wear animal prints.
Animal prints can work for almost any occasion! In this style guide, I’ll help you figure out how to make animal print clothing work for every occasion, from the most casual to the fancy. If you’re a beginner I’ll help you introduce animal prints into your wardrobe as simple accessories, and if you’re a fashionista, I can give you advice on how to break all the rules and stand out.
Always make sure your animal prints are gracing nicer fabrics. Animal print clothing has an unfortunate reputation for being cheap or low-class, so by opting for a high-quality fabric you make sure everything is elevated.
If you are new to wearing animal print clothing, make sure that the animal print is the focal point of your outfit, and that otherwise you are wearing muted solids or a monochrome look. If you are more adventurous, you’ll be happy to know that this is actually the season when you are also allowed to break all of these rules!
No matter what your taste level, this guide will have some suggestions for you, so you can make animal prints a part of your wardrobe!
For Beginners: Animal Print Accessories for Every Occasion
If you’re not ready to jump into the deep end of wearing animal prints, you can definitely consider dipping your toes in with understated accessories. You can interject the trend into your wardrobe with timeless elements that will keep your look fun and interesting.
The great thing about animal print accessories is that they can work for every occasion, and you can style them differently from day to evening.
• An animal print bag is one of the best ways of adding this style to your life. You can always feel safe adding the bag to a monochrome outfit, with an all-black wardrobe being the safest of choices. Snake, cow, giraffe and leopard prints can also look highly fashionable with earth tones, nudes, and reds. Zebra print bags can work wonderfully with brighter tones and color-blocked looks.
• Flat shoes covered with animal prints are a great way of adding some fun to a daytime casual or office look. For chic day-to-day styles, wear animal print flats with cut-off shorts or with a pair of boyfriend jeans and a colorful top that doesn’t have a busy print. If you’re styling for the office, the animal print shoes should be the focus point, with an otherwise neutral-colored pant or skirt suit.
• High heel shoes with animal prints are great for going out! If you are a little hesitant, definitely stick to black or earth toned dresses with your animal print shoes. Feel free to experiment with length, because while a short dress might seem more obvious, pairing a long, flowy dress with leopard print heels can make for a very fun and unique look.
• On the other hand, if you’re feeling more daring, consider going for a mixed look by opting for a dress with a more graphic or geometrical print as a contrast to your animal print shoes.
• For the subtlest of subtle takes on animal prints, try an animal print scarf or sunglasses frame to compliment your outfit.
Animal Print Clothes for Casual Days
Animal prints are not just for going out! You can add animal prints to your daytime outfits, even if you’ll just be grabbing a coffee with a friend or running some quick errands. Manners of elements, including zebra, giraffe, and leopard prints can be great for daytime outfits that are chic and playful, without being too fancy or sexy.
• For some low-key additions of animal prints to your life, consider adding one accessory like an animal print flat or bag to an otherwise casual look. Animal prints work beautifully with denim and solid colors, so don’t be afraid to play with them. Read the previous section on animal print accessories to get more ideas!
• We’re occasionally seeing animal-print shirts making an appearance on the market. Animal print blouses and tops can be dressed down when tucked into a pair of cut-off shorts or ripped boyfriend jeans.
• You can also wear animal print tops with a long, loose skirt for a chic bohemian look, along with some beaded jewelry.
• Leopard print dresses are a-okay to wear in the daytime, as long as their style isn’t too revealing or dressy. Look for animal print dresses with a more loose fit, perhaps even with some ruffles. If you want more shape, look for a dress that is cinched in at the waist. Wear them with strappy sandals or with a pair of slip-on flats.
• Reserve sleeveless animal print dresses for layered looks, worn with a more casual jacket – otherwise, the look might be too clubby for daytime.
• For cooler days, layer a jacket over the whole ensemble. Military green jackets can add a nice contrast, a denim jacket can make for a fun take on the Canadian tuxedo if you’re also wearing jeans, and a leather jacket can give you that sexy edge. A trench coat over a leopard print dress or top can be especially chic, especially in autumn.
• If your daytime look has a bit of a punk edge, wear your animal print dresses with a pair of black, heavy boots and some dramatic leather jewelry.
Work-Appropriate Animal and Leopard Prints
The days when animal prints could not be worn to work are long gone. Animal prints can be dressed up into outfits that are perfectly appropriate for the office as long as you are smart about your styling, and you don’t overdo it.
• Try to stick to darker takes on animal prints, with smaller designs and more earth tones. Brown leopard prints will work better than golden leopard prints, for example.
• Animal print blouses can work beautifully tucked into a pair of skinny slacks or into a pencil skirt. If your office is a bit on the conservative side, you might want to layer a smart jacket over the whole ensemble. Make sure the slacks are in a solid color, like navy, black, or beige, and opt for matching office shoes.
• If your office is a little more permissive, a pair of slacks or a pencil skirt covered in a darker zebra, tiger or leopard print can be sophisticated yet playful. Look for slacks in a slim yet appropriate cut, and pair them with a solid-colored top and smart shoes.
• An animal print blazer can seriously elevate a monochrome outfit, and still keep your look conservative for the office.
• It’s hard to find animal print dresses that will work for the office, but they do exist. Look for dresses with a high neckline, an animal print with a more subtle contrast, sleeves, and a midi-length. Wearing a blazer over the dress, or belting it in with a smart designer belt at the waist will also help.
Animal Prints for Going Out
The club is the place where leopard print dresses feel the most comfortable, because their ultimate sexiness can shine. I give some outfit options that can help you wear animal prints even if you’re feeling a little shy, but be aware that clubs are the perfect time to wear animal and leopard print dresses, and to rock these prints from head to toe.
• Keep it subtle, by having animal prints show up as an accessory, by carrying a leopard print bag with you, or rocking a pair of animal print stilettos.
• Wear a tight skirt with an animal print, and pair it with a slightly loose solid-colored top and a pair of nude or black pumps, for a flirty look.
• Short leopard print dresses are great for going out in! This is your chance to shine in any of the dresses we’ve listed earlier in this article, worn with a pair of pumps, kitten heels, or stilettos and a chic bag.
• Don’t be afraid of colorful animal prints! Reds, turquoises, and other colors will help your animal print clothing stand out.
• Don’t forget the jewelry! Giraffe and leopard print clothing looks fantastic with gold jewelry, while silver is a perfect touch for zebra prints!
Animal Prints for Dressy Occasions
You wouldn’t normally think to wear animal prints to sophisticated events, but with enough designers creating animal print evening gowns, we think it’s allowed. I make it easy here, with all the tips and tricks for making animal prints fit with your fancy evening occasions and dressy events.
• Look for animal print dresses with more elaborate or sophisticated silhouettes, and avoid ones with very tight or simple silhouettes, as they can look too clubby or pedestrian.
• If you prefer a tighter dress or one with a simpler silhouette, make sure it has a higher neckline, which will look more elegant.
• A long dress always looks dressier than a short one. Look for an animal print dress that sits somewhere below the knees, or perhaps one that has an asymmetrical hem that can start above the knee, but should come below it at the lowest point.
• Look for a figure-flattering silhouette. Dresses that cinch in at the waist will always look beautiful, especially if they have a flowy or balloon-like skirt.
• Stick to more muted animal prints for evening occasions. A light brown pattern against a beige background, or a black pattern against a dark brown background will be more subtle, sophisticated and elegant.
• If you’re going out on a colder evening, the animal print design can actually come from your jacket instead of your dress. An animal print faux fur or trench jacket can look incredible over a long, solid-colored dress.
• Don’t forget to wear elegant, delicate jewelry with your dress, to really keep your whole look glamorous.
• The best evening shoes to pair with animal print dresses would be on the more sophisticated side of things. Look for black or nude pumps if you want to look traditionally elegant, or wear a pair of red shoes for a sexy but still appropriate look.
Daring Animal Print Fashion
Since we’re taking our inspiration from the runways here, it is important to encourage you to experiment with animal prints in some non-traditional ways! All of the previous advice I’ve given keeps things subtle, but if you are a real lover of fashion then sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and try something truly adventurous.
• Mix and Match Patterns
Animal prints can and should be treated as solids these days, without the fear of clashing! All over the runways we’ve been seeing animal print clothes mixed with other prints and patterns, including floral, geometric and psychedelic ones.
• Manic Fabrics
Also experiment with animal print clothes by mixing different kinds of fabrics, and really playing with texture. A tulle skirt can be worn with a leopard print top, for example, without any fear or hesitation.
• Animal Prints on Animal Prints
Being afraid of wearing multiple animal prints at a time is a thing of the past. Wearing leopard print dresses with zebra print shoes, for example, is as adventurous a decision as wearing a giraffe print jacket over a snakeskin dress.
Photos via @bartabacmode, @wantgetrepeat, @mikutas, @aylin_koenig, @janicejoostemaa, @johannaeolsson, @jourdansloane, @leoniehanne