Skip to Content

Wearing Animal Prints: Dos and Don’ts

In honor of World Wildlife Day (March 3), let’s talk animal prints! Animal prints are a high-risk, high-reward style element. A leopard spot or tiger stripe can look amazing, edgy, and chic. But then these prints can also be cheap, tacky, or gaudy. It’s a flatter-or-fail situation, and that can be intimidating.

Fortunately, there are some easy strategies that can protect you from major style missteps. Here are the dos and don’ts that’ll help you work wildlife flair into your wardrobe with confidence.

This post may contain affiliate links*

DO wear animal print accessories

Dip your toe in the wildlife waters by sporting some cute animal print accessories. Scarves, bracelets, hairbands, handbags, socks, and even shoes can all be starting points. Take a look at the gallery below for inspiration.

DON’T be too sexy

If you’re not comfortable wearing animal prints generally, you’ll feel self-conscious in a super-sexy animal print outfit. A tight dress or short skirt that’s also spotted or striped could drive the wrong kind of attention if you know what I mean.

As you’re learning how animal prints affect other people (and specifically, their reaction to you), lean towards classy and sophisticated over sexy and seductive. You can always turn up the heat later as you gain confidence.

DO mix animal prints with soft fabrics and shapes

Balance is always a wise style strategy, and that’s particularly true with animal prints. Strive to pair edgy prints with soft fabrics and drapey silhouettes — soft knit cardigans, comfy cotton jeans, or a flowing blouse. As you can see in the Pinterest image below, the combination is head-turning, in a good way.

The bold, shapely skirt looks incredible with the soft, modest-cut sweater.

DON’T pair mismatched prints

Mixing prints generally isn’t for the faint of heart. An mixing animal prints with other patterns could possibly make the people around you nauseous. It’s possible to do it well, but if you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you’d rather not take that kind of risk.

Stick with one animal print garment and keep the rest of your outfit simple.

ZiziDonna shows us here how to mix prints right. The zebra top matched with a checked suit works for two reasons. First, the check is a small print, small enough to look gray from a distance. Second, the entire outfit is limited to three colors of black, white, and gray. It’s interesting, balanced, and eye-catching — without being overwhelming.

DO pair animal prints with solid neutrals

When you’re first experimenting with animal prints, pair them with neutrals. Start with blacks, whites, beiges, and browns. These colors go seamlessly with big-cat and snake prints. Once you master those combos, you can work in additional pops of color via shoes or a fun handbag.

This combo is very wearable, even though the coat is a bold statement piece.

Here’s another easy animal print outfit anyone can wear.

How great is this outfit? A white top (note the modest cut), printed midi, and those amazing orange shoes. This combo is on point because the print on the skirt is mostly white and not excessively bold.

DON’T wear chunky/flashy jewelry with animal prints

Any outfit requires only one statement piece. Generally, the animal-print piece is what’s making your statement — so you don’t need to add crazy accessories to the mix, too.

Stick with simple cuffs, stud earrings, and dainty necklaces.

DO pair with pink, red, or orange

When you’re ready to experiment, start with soft pinks, reds, and oranges. These colors (in small doses) can be gorgeous role-players in an animal print outfit.

DON’T worry about your age

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young or too old to wear animal prints. Any woman of any age can pull off this style element with confidence. The fashionista with a youthful style might pair a vibrant animal print skirt with a moto jacket and sneakers, for example. The fashionista who’s feeling more sophisticated might prefer a zebra print blouse under a blazer with mules. Either one of these outfits could be worn by someone who’s 20 or 70.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how you wear tiger, zebra, snake, leopard, or cheetah prints — as long as you feel great about it. What I hope you take away from this post is the confidence to experiment. That’s the first and most important step of mastering the art of wearing animal prints.

Like this article? Head over to 7 Budget-Friendly Leopard Dresses that Aren’t Trashy.

PSA. It's time to dump Google and switch to Ecosia. Get answers faster and make the world a better place. Download the Ecosia iOS app and make your browser's homepage.

fashion style

Saturday 2nd of May 2015

Hi I like to wear animal printed dresses, I am trying to purchase animal printed jacket but i cant find that model.. I tried in many stores. I hope i will get it for next spring season.

Comments are closed.