How To Wear Leopard Print Without Looking Like Your Crazy Aunt

Before I start I think it might be worth me saying that I fully appreciate this isn't the most original of blog topics. I've seen tonnes of "how to wear animal prints" and similar posts and swore not to follow suit, but when I was looking at these images I couldn't think of a better summary - I'd never have dared to have worn this skirt a few years ago and its only through putting some effort into getting the surrounding basics right that I can actually feel comfortable in it. It's become one of my go-to "looks"  when I want to make an effort, but as I'll explain its through choosing what goes with the leopard print that gives it that "I woke up and din't think about it" kind of vibe.

One thing I have really learnt is that if you want to try a new print or colour, never abandon the shapes and styles that you know work for you. For example, low scoop t shirts do not work on me as they make me look chestier and broaden my shoulders. So no matter how much I love a t shirt in that shape I never buy it. It was somewhat of a revelation for me, I was go guilty of buying something just for the colour etc. Any way, you probably already know this so I won't blather on...

Midi skirts are my nemesis and it's taken a while to realise they're a possibility for me. I'm quite short (5 foot 4) and wasn't blessed with slim calves so I always worried about looking a bit dense in them. Equally my hips sit quite high so I have to buy things a size bigger so that skirts sit where they are supposed to (another revelatory moment for me; when a stylist revealed I wasn't fat I was instead short-bodied - there is a compliment in there somewhere).

I only wear floaty fabric ones because they create the illusion of "supermodel underneath," and if possible I want ones that some kind of "vertical feature" - be that buttons (like the one in the pictures which I got with my Stories allowance) or some kind of split... You can see I've spent way too much time on this, but I was determined to find a way to wear them as all my favourite muses just look so damn epic in them. Above are some options I've found that work for my complicated shape.

Ok, so leopard print. We've already gone through the "stick to the shapes you know work for you" rule but the second one is if not more important; don't buy cheap sh*t. Seriously, the combination of leopard print and rubbishy fabric just screams Pat Butcher. Also, consider the time and effort that goes into a £10 piece of clothing. Not much! In truth the quality of the shape, and quality of fabric goes hand in hand. Unless it's in the sale, a little tip would be never spend less than £30 on a top or £40 on bottoms. That cost eradicates all the obviously no-no scenarios.

I've put my favourite pieces above. And Other Stories is killing it at the moment (perhaps an ill placed expression given the subject matter, sorry). I've stopped myself buying any more print as I have trousers (Ganni, here), a skirt (And Other Stories, here), dress (Lily and Lionel, a much loved gift, here) and a shirt (J Crew, here) - I don't need more unless I want to be known as the girl who wears leopard prints, which I don't. I just want it to become as normal as me wearing any other pattern, stripe or colour.

My next tip is to only pair leopard print with classic colours, and stripes. I don't know why but I love breton shirts and animal prints. It's probably all the Parisian chic Pinterest boards I've built over the years. I'm hardly reinventing the style-wheel here but I just think it looks awesome. My one is by Mint Velvet here, part of a charitable initiative they did with Women for Women. The shape works really well for me and looks good tucked in. 

As I wear stripes so often I don't mind spending a little bit more and getting styles that will stay nice. I tend to size on classic Breton shapes too as I like them loose. I really recommend checking out (I've put links directly to their striped stuff) = Whistles, J Crew, Boden and Etre Cecile.

Stripes aside, the other things that look good with prints are things like your complete basics. Pair it back, don't over dress it. Things like the jacket I recommended above (here if you missed it) would look gorgeous with blue jeans and a black tee... Simple, neutral tee shirts and sweaters. My favourite look is a leopard print skirt/trouser with white trainers (mine are Stan Smiths, here) and a navy mens' sweater (the industry favourite is the M&S one, here). Don't complicate it with other prints or colours, it cheapens it.

Last but not least, the other thing that goes well with leopard print is leather. Now, I fully understand that buying a decent leather jacket is a considered purchase so I'll explain how I went about it. I wanted to see if I was a leather jacket person (spoiler: I am) so I bought a deliberately cheap one from ASOS for a summer two years to see how often I wore it. I wore it a lot.

I then saved my pennies and bought Agnes; the much loved and repeated style from Whistles. She isn't cheap, but two years in she only get better with age. That said she's one hell of a lot cheaper than the Acne/Belstaff ones you see littered over Instagram. I love her and do recommend her (but recommend if you're new to the idea of one, try something like this first).

Photography by Claire Menary. Products were bought myself unless otherwise disclosed. This is a standard footer on all blog pieces; some links used in this post may be created with an affiliate tag meaning I will receive a small % of any purchases made as a result of clicking on them. This does not make any price difference for you, the consumer.

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