Balancing Sassy and Sensible with Animal Prints

It seems to come in and out of fashion depending on the season, but wow is animal print, especially leopard, having its day in the sun right now. I’m seeing it in edgier looks, such as this faux fur from H&M, as well as classic brands, such as this jersey dress from Ralph Lauren. Animal print has made its way into everyday style, working almost as a neutral accent for us and our clients alike. From the runway to retail, I don’t think animal print is going anywhere anytime soon, and–when done correctly–we’re more than okay with that.

We love animal prints, but not all animal prints are created equal in fashion. Our go-to rule of thumb for wearing animal print is to select a print that is on the smaller side if the item is larger, such as a coat or jacket, and a larger print for smaller items, such as a shoe or belt (although the smaller print works here, too). Larger prints on larger items just tend to be less flattering, as they exaggerate shape and size, and smaller prints still stand out but don’t dominate your whole outfit. This way, you don’t have to choose between sassy and sensible.


Effortless Style: Balancing Sassy and Sensible with Animal PrintsAs you can see here, the patterns of leopard print tend to vary when shopping, but the black and brown color palette stays the same. We’re going a little more playful on the size of the prints, since these are smaller pieces that will provide a pop accent. These are some great classic staples that will take you from cool to warm weather during this transitional time. Love the hair-on texture of the clutch and loafers!

a. Animal Print Ankle Boots in Leopard, Zara

b. Leopard Print Genuine Calf Hair Pouch in Natural by BP, Nordstrom

c. Jordy Genuine Calf Hair Flat in New Nude Leopard Brahma Hair by Sam Edelman, Nordstrom

Effortless Style: Balancing Sassy and Sensible with Animal PrintsHere, we’ve chosen a couple of nontraditional color ways (right) as we head into spring, as well as a larger piece (left) that shows how elegant a small animal print can look on the body.

a. Wingtip Coat in Leopard, Emerson Fry

b. Wallet Clutch in Snow Cat Hair-On, Clare V

c. Ocelot Jacquard Wrap in Bluebell by Badgley Mischka, Nordstrom


How can you tell the difference between leopard and cheetah print? Good question! There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference when shopping, but on the whole, cheetah print is usually just two-tone–a solid tan background with irregular black dots, whereas leopard often has a third brown tone mixed in. But the two prints are fairly interchangeable when it comes to styling.

Effortless Style: Balancing Sassy and Sensible with Animal PrintsBelts are another great way to tastefully incorporate animal print into your outfit–skinny if you want to play it safe or embellished if you’re feeling a little wild! And this peep-toe slide is sexy but still appropriate for the week day with a low, chunky heel.

a. Estelle Embellished Belt in Cheetah, Free People

b. Haircalf Leather Small Trouser Belt in Cheetah, Banana Republic

c. Luella Genuine Calf Hair Slide in Cheetah Dot Haircalf by Sole Society, Nordstrom

Effortless Style: Balancing Sassy and Sensible with Animal PrintsOther than the jacket above, a blouse or sweater is about the largest item we recommend in animal print, just because prints can be so visually overwhelming. We think every wardrobe deserves a pair of standard cheetah pumps for work and play (they pair well with both black dress pants and jeans!), and a crossbody bag for those hands-free days.

a. Merino Crewneck Sweatshirt in Cheetah, J. Crew

b. Natalie 2 Faux Fur Pumps in Cheetah by Naturalizer, Dillard’s

c. Piper Haircalf Crossbody Bag in Cheetah, Frances Valentine


Effortless Style: Balancing Sassy and Sensible with Animal PrintsJust like snakes in nature, even faux snakeskin in fashion ranges in pattern and color. But we’ve found a few options that keep you in neutral territory while still adding a punch of attitude. We love the stripes on this clutch, and the golden tones of the belt. The streamlined design of these slides is so effortlessly chic.

a. Snakeskin-printed Leather Slides, J. Crew

b. Harness Logo Belt, Calvin Klein

c. Center Stripe Snakeskin Embossed Leather Clutch in Tan Snake by Clare V, Nordstrom


Effortless Style: Balancing Sassy and Sensible with Animal PrintsTortoise print makes some of the best accessories. We are loving these options for small pops of this pattern, from jewelry to smart devices. These sunglasses are the best of both worlds, mixing tortoise and leopard print!

a. Tortoise Resin Flat Hoop Earrings in Tortoise, Express

b. 2183 Tortoise w/Leopard Sunglasses by Ray-Ban, Glasses USA

c. Naked Tough iPhone Case in Tortoiseshell, Case-Mate


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