Thursday, April 17, 2014

Beginner's Guide: Animal Print in Small Doses

I know a lot of you don't need to be convinced to wear animal print, but I'm surprised by how many people I talk to that still have a bad stigma of it.

I get it.  There are pink/purple/metallic animal printed hats and leggings that people actually wear.  (Dear Lord, WHY?)  Or the mental image of a woman that looks like Gloria from Modern Family in a skin tight, deep-v leopard print dress.  It can be anywhere along the spectrum from tacky to intimidating, and in those instances it definitely doesn't seem like it'd be practical for a normal everyday person.  

If you've been hesitant to get on the animal print train and haven't known how to jump in, here are a few ways you can do animal print in small doses.  

Small Doses
With any new style venture that I'm unsure of I like to start in small doses, aka in accessories.  No need to buy a top or a dress in all animal print when you can start small with accessories!  Try a belt, scarf, shoes, or even a small animal print clutch.

I started with an animal print belt, which you could hardly tell was animal print.  It felt safe and let me test how comfortable I was.  It also warmed me up to it.  Then I saw an animal print scarf that I liked--I think it was because the pattern on the scarf was larger than other leopard prints I'd seen.  Then I moved into full blown animal print stuff--a top, pumps, flats, and a dress!

Type of Print - Not All Leopard Prints Are Equal
I was enlightened once I realized there are different sizes of leopard print and different patterns altogether.  Like I mentioned earlier, the scarf shown above is a larger print than typical leopard prints I'd seen.  The same is true for the top and dress that I got.  They're also more brown and less brown-orangey, and overall feel friendly that way.  Just saying, don't write off all animal print.  Know that the variation of color and size of print goes a long, long way.

Below are some accessory options that are affordable and totally wearable for a sensible (but stylish) everyday person!  :)

Links to Shop:
1.  Target  |  2.  Target (I own this one)  |  3.  Macy's
4.  JCPenney  |  5.  Target  |  6.  Nordstrom
7.  Target  |  8.  American Eagle  |  9.  Target

What's your favorite way to wear animal print?  If you're not on board yet, which "small dose" are you willing to try?


  1. This is the perfect post for me. I don't have a stigma about it, i just don't know if it's me, but I agree starting with small doses is the way to go. I"m the same way with florals. Afraid of looking like a couch.



  2. fabulous post. i definitely like it in small doses, and am 99% sure i will never venture into larger items like tops or dresses. i have been searching for the perfect animal print scarf, no luck yet.

  3. I started with those flats from American Eagle. (You may remember me from the PMT FB page.) =)
    I could wear those ALL DAY LONG! They are super comfy and super cute! They go with lots of things too.

  4. This advice was spot on (bad pun intended)! Having grown up in NJ, I harbored anxiety about resembling Snookie if I dipped into animal prints, but I am now the proud of owner of a pair of leopard flats AND a J.Crew top (though I lean towards the versions that look more like polka dots).

    The Salty Hanger

  5. These accessories are like the "gateway drugs" to all things leopard. I also started off with just a scarf...then a belt.... then shoes... Now I have added 2 dresses, a blazer, a top & jewelry. Leopard print is great for me because I love to mix black and brown along with small pops of color. Adding a leopard print gives me a purrrr-fect palate to build off of. :)

  6. Honestly, until I started reading your blog about a year ago, I never would have worn animal print anything! Now I don't know what I would do without my leopard-print belt or flats! Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone. Now, if only I could find the perfect leopard-print scarf (the hunt continues).

  7. I bought the JCPenney leopard heels #4 and love them! They are real leather and I had a $10 off coupon- can't beat that! Thanks for the post!

  8. I am in the hesitant group. More often than not, IRL, I've seen animal prints done very tacky. I have dipped my toes in a little with belt #2, and a scarf. I just haven't braved up enough to try a top or a dress with animal print yet.

  9. My original worry about animal print was being cheap looking, so my tactic has been to either invest a bit (like my Madewell flats - also worth it because they're so comfy/versatile) or, if I'm looking for a deal, to look at the pieces I like at the "nicer" stores and find the knockoffs that most resemble the pattern - because like you said, the size/shape of the pattern can definitely make a difference!

  10. While pretty much EVERYONE wears them, I still can't force myself to like animal prints. They always ruin outfits for me, and while I should get used to them, since you can't go to a fashion blog without seeing them, I haven't been able to get there yet.

  11. I love animal print in small doses like this. What a great post! Thanks for sharing.

  12. I'm one of those people who is just not on board AT ALL with animal prints. I don't have a single thing in animal print. Some of it is the stigma, some of it is the fact that I'm much more of a gray/black neutral person than a tan/brown neutral. Maybe if there was a nice grayed out zebra or something? I'm not sure.

  13. I bought my first tan/brown scarf more than a year ago and while I like the pattern, the color tends to wash my face out. Couple months ago I did a research on my color type and ordered a blue/grey version of the same scarf and it's perfect and goes with everything in my wardrobe!

  14. BTW Audrey what do you think about making an update for the Wardrobe from scratch series about different color seasons/types? Because while you look fabulous in every color most of us don't and advice on that would be very helpful and prevent the mistake of buying colors that look good on others and not ourselves. And I wanted to thank you for all the time and effort you put into this blog, I've learnt a LOT from you!

  15. I so agree! I really, really love the leopard/cheetah print accessories you've picked, especially the belts.

  16. I'm so happy about this post! I've wanted to try animal print for months, but had no idea where to start. Fantastic advice, thank you!!

  17. I used to shy away from animal prints, leopard especially, because I didn't want to give off the wrong impression. Now, I have leopard print heels, belt, blouse, skirt and even a dress. Two of these items are "snow leopard". I also have a zebra print scarf, a giraffe print purse and shoes, and some snakeskin print shoes. I've never worried about other animal prints giving off the wrong vibe.

    My rule is to stick close to the real item - both in color and size of spots. Your oversized print scarf, however, is making me rethink that.

    I also try to avoid anything too revealing or form-fitting when wearing leopard. That often veers into the image I'm trying to avoid.

    Finally, I try to avoid the obvious and overdone pairing of leopard with red. I like to mix it up with other colors such as emerald, yellow or cobalt, or just stay neutral.

  18. Lauren WickersheimFriday, April 18, 2014

    I got a H&M leopard scarf via ThredUP a while back and was so excited about, but keep not being able to be brave enough to wear it. But as I was putting together my clothes for my upcoming Europe trip (following your 10 pieces = 14 outfits plan!), I discovered though that I LOVE how it looks with my Target striped tee. Leopard AND pattern mixing? WHO AM I?

  19. I am fully on board the leopard print train! I would like to find a dress, but It's hard to find the right print in the right style (and not too short!), so the search continues!

  20. i love animal print any way!! well in small doses too.. like scarf or shoes!!

    Sandy a la Mode

  21. I always think it's crazy when people are afraid of animal print but then I see people wear animal print to the extreme and I understand why some people are afraid of it. lol. You really can't go wrong with a leopard scarf, belt, or shoes though :)


  22. I love a good animal print -- it goes with everything! And I have all sorts of things in animal print, from dresses and sweaters to shoes, bags, scarves and belts (don't worry, I don't wear them all at once!). It totally does depend on the print and the colors used, though. Sometimes people will buy me things because they know I like animal print, and they they are super tacky/cheap looking or are terrible colors.

    I used to have the most perfect (and inexpensive) leopard-print flats, but I wore two pairs out and the company stopped making them! I got those Target ones instead, and they're fine, but the other ones were darker brown and less obviously leopard-y, if that makes sense. I also have that first belt, and I love it.

    Zebra and other black-and-white animal prints also work really well as neutrals!

  23. I'm with you, I add just a hint. I have all of these items (scarf, belt, flats, pumps) and I love adding a little pop to my look. I haven't branched out into a full shirt or skirt yet, I'm still debating it.


  24. I started with a leopard print headband. I love it!! It goes with pretty much anything - since it's on my head and is small, it matches pretty much whatever. I then saw your scarf and had to get a similar one! I also have dalmatian print shoes which I love, and I recently got some leopard print shoes. Love animal print! I used to think it was super sassy but now I realize that it can be refined and just cute.

  25. I love small doses of animal prints as well...although my mom just bought me a gray leopard print blouse, and I recently thrifted two leopard print dresses. They definitely make a big statement on their own, so I try to keep accessorizing to a minimum when I wear them. The small leopard accessories that I have, like my scarf, belt, and flats, are often treated as neutrals and I LOVE THEM. When I'm not sure what color to accent with, I usually just default to leopard :)


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