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Animal Print Clothing and Accessories to Wear All Year Round

Go a little wild and mix and match these playful patterns with your favorite neutrals


spinner image examples of animal print fashion such as a snake blouse a zebra purse a leopard print scarf a tiger handbag and leopard print shoes
(Clockwise from left) Vince Camuto Snake Print Rumple Blouse ($44, nordstrom.com); Charles & Keith Minta Tiger Print Chain-Link Hobo Bag in Multi ($86, charleskeith.com); Echo Leopard Wrap in Natural ($79, echonewyork.com); Vionic Willa Slip On Flat in Toffee Leopard Print Suede ($130, vionicshoes.com); Wolf & Badger Zebra Print Hair on Leather Grab Shoulder Bag ($191, wolfandbadger.com/us)
Nordstrom; Charles & Keith; Echo; Vionic; Wolf & Badger; Svetlana Repnitskaya/Getty Images

Leopards and zebras and tigers … oh my! And let’s not forget snakes. Don’t be afraid of patterns inspired by jungle creatures. They can be surprisingly friendly to your figure and wallet — and add just enough pizzazz to animate all of your wardrobe neutrals.

One caveat: What does scare me a little at my age (66) is wearing these prints with overtly sexy garments, such as a Lycra “body-con dress,” a top with a plunging neckline, a bikini or anything too tight or shiny. ... It’s easier for women over, say, 50 to pull the look off if the shapes are somewhat classic, softly draped or tailored. But, hey, I’m not big on fashion rules. If you want to go all out catwoman, be my guest!

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How to wear animal prints with colors

I prefer these patterns in natural shades — instead of the neon iterations that were popular back in the ’80s — because they pair beautifully with black, brown, khaki, grey, beige and white ... all your basic neutrals. For some reason, leopard prints, specifically, work well with red (zebra and python, maybe not so much). The late legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who famously said, “I have never met a leopard print I didn’t like,” was known for her love of the dramatic combination of scarlet and leopard.

Embrace the magic of camouflage

The reason many of these wild animals evolved to have striking, geometric colorations is primal. The patterns helped them hide in the grasslands without detection when they were stalking their prey (or avoiding their predators). Well, most of us aren’t trying to survive on the savanna, but these clothes do provide some optical magic — the wavy stripes, dots and patterns distract the eye — and can be effective in making you appear slimmer.

Why they are a good investment

Animal prints are perfect for the transition from summer to fall. In fact, they can be worn year-round! The black-and-white snake print shirt you pair with white jeans in summer looks just as cool under a gray pantsuit in November. The leopard print scarf you wear with black pants and a tee in August dresses up your red tunic dress in October. The zebra tote you carry while wearing a black down-quilted coat on a commuter platform in January will hold all your stuff when you get on a plane wearing a crisp white shirt and capris in May. Since these items are essentially “seasonless,” you can amortize the cost per wearing. That’s a big bonus right there.

Insider secret: Animal print accessories are worth spending more money on than clothing items because you can wear them more often and in so many ways. Everyone will remember the leopard dress you wore on Monday; no one will recall that you carried a snake print bucket bag on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

So, animal lovers, here we go!

Layer on a leopard print for a look that is effortlessly elegant

spinner image Vionic Willa Slip On Flat in Toffee Leopard Print Suede; Good American Plissé Shirt; Echo Leopard Wrap in Natural
(Left to right) Vionic Willa Slip On Flat in Toffee Leopard Print Suede ($130, vionicshoes.com); Good American Plissé Shirt ($129, bloomingdales.com); Echo Leopard Wrap in Natural ($79, echonewyork.com)
Vionic; Bloomingdale's; Echo

Slip on snake print for a look that is subtly sexy.

spinner image Joe’s Jeans The Lara Mid-Rise Cigarette Ankle in Vesper; Vince Camuto Snake Print Rumple Blouse; Banana Republic Pietra Bucket Bag in Python
(Left to right) Joe’s Jeans The Lara Mid-Rise Cigarette Ankle in Vesper ($119, joesjeans.com); Vince Camuto Snake Print Rumple Blouse ($44, nordstrom.com); Banana Republic Pietra Bucket Bag in Python ($180, bananarepublic.gap.com)
Joe's Jeans; Nordstrom; Banana Republic

Toss on tiger print for a look that is fiercely fabulous.

spinner image Figue Vivienne Dress in Tiger Cream; Charles & Keith Minta Tiger Print Chain-Link Hobo Bag in Multi; Massimo Dutti 100% Ramie Animal Print Shirt in Brown
(Left to right) Figue Vivienne Dress in Tiger Cream ($97, figue.com); Charles & Keith Minta Tiger Print Chain-Link Hobo Bag in Multi ($86, charleskeith.com); Massimo Dutti 100% Ramie Animal Print Shirt in Brown ($70, massimodutti.com/us)
Figue; Charles & Keith; Massimo Dutti

Zero in on zebra print for a look that is strikingly self-confident.

spinner image Venus Zebra Print Blazer; Natori Zebra Cotton Poplin Balloon Sleeve Belted Shirtdress; Wolf & Badger Zebra Print Hair on Leather Grab Shoulder Bag
(Left to right) Venus Zebra Print Blazer ($30, venus.com); Natori Zebra Cotton Poplin Balloon Sleeve Belted Shirtdress ($277, natori.com); Wolf & Badger Zebra Print Hair on Leather Grab Shoulder Bag ($191, wolfandbadger.com/us)
Venus; Natori; Wolf & Badger

Ladies, it’s a jungle out there!

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