Leopard Print: Straight Up Or With A Twist

Sofft leopard loafers

I don’t remember when my affinity for leopard print first developed, but I have to believe it was pretty early on. Leopard’s aura of upscale glamour from my childhood years in the early 1960’s gave way to a more louche, rock-and-roll appeal in the 70’s, when the best pieces were snapped up quickly from thrift stores. I don’t think leopard print has really ever been “out” since the 1980’s, but this fall it’s everywhere. I’m really picky about my leopard prints, but have recently spotted (ha!) many that hit the right note for me. I always seem to have at least one pair of leopard print shoes in my wardrobe and love the zing they add to a casual outfit.

Above: these loafers have a very padded insole, and one of my favorite features on any calf-hair shoe, a strip of leather on the back of the heel to prevent wear. The 1″ heel gives a little lift without sacrificing a whit of comfort.

watch with leopard band

This modern-old-school wristwatch is perfect for those who prefer their leopard print in small doses.

silk leopard print top

I find leopard print easiest to incorporate into an outfit with accessories, but if you stick with the “one animal print at a time” guideline, an easy-fitting top like this one perks up an outfit without coming across as predatory. Looks fabulous with olive, berry, burgundy too.

leopard ankle strap pumps

Here are some ankle strap pumps with a reasonable heel and that will look as great with jeans as with your LBD. (Runs small, order 1/2 size up.)

abstract leopard print scarf

If a suggestion of leopard print is more your thing, here’s a scarf with a whimsical perspective.

I’m not the first person to say it, but leopard print can be a neutral. A classic black/brown/camel leopard print will go with just about any other color and mixes well with other patterns if that’s your thing (think leopard and stripes, leopard and florals).

Are you a fan of leopard print? What do you wear it with?


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  1. August 31, 2016 / 4:50 am

    I am a huge fan of leopard and prints in general. They always spice up an outfit.


  2. August 31, 2016 / 4:55 am

    I love your loafers. I had a similar pair and wore them into the ground. Sniff!
    Leopard print is a neutral, no? Goes with everything.
    Fun fact: leopard spots are open, with a different brown inside, whereas cheetah spots are plain black.

  3. Laurel
    August 31, 2016 / 5:03 am

    I love leopard and hadn’t seen some of these. In particular, I have several of the “big” Timex watches and this one immediately went into my shopping cart. 🙂

  4. Kristien
    August 31, 2016 / 5:29 am

    I wish I were brave enough to wear a leopard top, but think it would be too much on me. Chico’s is offering one this campaign that looks intriguing. Yes, I use leopard all the time with many colors. It fits beautifully with the warm colors I wear. Just ordered another leopard scarf with slightly different shading than the one I currently own. Also in my closet, leopard ballet flats, gloves and purse accessories. And I would like to add a comfortable pair of loafers. If I’m not carefully, the neighbors will start calling me the Cat Lady.

  5. Jill Pontiere PO Box 560733 Orlando, Fl 32856-0733
    August 31, 2016 / 5:50 am

    Love leopard! You have given me so many ideas in each posting. Thank you. I have that sleeveless blouse hanging in my closet and wil get some mileage out of it this fall/winter. I don’t think leopard ever goes out of style. I like to pair my blouse with white jeans and chunky gold jewelry. Also, I am in the market for some high rise jeans, that would go well with the leopard blouse too!

  6. August 31, 2016 / 5:56 am

    I still have my first pair of leopard print ballet flats from French Soles….bought in maybe 2002? Love love them and must replace them!! Headed to D.C. this weekend and daughter and I are definitely on the lookout for leopard: purse maybe? Love that scarf too!!!

  7. Allyson
    August 31, 2016 / 5:58 am

    I love all animal prints and will wear them all over! Just bought a zebra print dress from Chico’s and get tons of compliments on it every time I wear it. Tiger prints are also big down here as our college mascot is Mike the Tiger (LSU). The other university in town is the Southern Jaguars so you LOTS of animal prints all over town! Love your posts and look forward to receiving them in my email!

  8. bellsonme
    August 31, 2016 / 6:54 am

    One of my dear friends started wearing leopard prints in the late 1990s and made it her style signature, and oh, she wears it well! I stayed away until not that long ago, when another friend sent me a Diane von Furstenberg piece that had a small leopard print section on an otherwise plain bag. Meanwhile, I began teaching for a university with a tiger mascot, so I’m always on the lookout for tiger prints, tastefully offered, and wear plenty of black and gold to match.

  9. August 31, 2016 / 6:56 am

    Wonderful post. My animal print ballet flats are a staple of mine, and I’ve worn them so often they’ve had to have the heal replaced. Those loafers might just have to find a home in my closet too. I also have a leopard print scarf that I picked up in South Africa, I always get compliments when I wear it. Here’s to animal prints! I wonder if they have Iwatch bands??? I’m on the hunt.

  10. Mumbai
    August 31, 2016 / 7:29 am

    A pattern you never get tired. Therefore I keep some leo-pieces from year to year.

  11. Linda Kennedy
    August 31, 2016 / 8:01 am

    I just purchased a leopard belt this week at Ann Taylor. It was on sale – 40% off.

  12. cindy
    August 31, 2016 / 8:03 am

    Never met a leopard print I didn’t LOVE. I can’t wear all of them and have to be selective in my choices, but even the ones that would be obvious NOs for my wardrobe, can still make my mouth water just looking at them. Your loafers are to die for!!!

  13. August 31, 2016 / 8:17 am

    You have some chic selections here, Susan! I’m a long time fan of leopard print myself. A touch of it always bring instant style. I see that you mention the Sofft brand. OMG!! I wore a pair of Sofft sandals throughout Italy and Paris in July. They were amazing! Shoes can make or break a trip, right?

    So sorry we weren’t able to connect on my quick trip to LA recently. I would love to meet up sometime soon. Now that I’m retired I have more time for fun. 🙂 I’m redoing my blog roll and off to be sure you are on it. I always find such cool style inspiration here.
    Happy Wednesday!
    xx, Heather

  14. samantha4blair
    August 31, 2016 / 8:58 am

    I thought leopard was definitely a neutral! :oP
    Mixing a splash of leopard with more classic (boring?) items can look great.
    BUT a good pattern clash gets me all excited!
    Especially with bold florals…or tartan!
    Tartan + Leopard = Super-cool :oD

  15. August 31, 2016 / 10:00 am

    What great selections! (and I have just gone online shopping, btw!!). I’ll be sporting new shoes within the week!! yahoo! I have been stalking these, like a cat, …and finally decided to spring!! 🙂 – Roxanne

  16. nell
    August 31, 2016 / 11:28 am

    Cute shoes. I like most animal prints, leopard and snake being my favorites. Currently have 2 shirts– one in conventional tawny but slightly softened down colors, and another in lavender. I do like animal prints in quirky off-colors…

  17. Sheryl
    August 31, 2016 / 11:58 am

    I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of leopard or any animal prints, but you’ve inspired me to start seeing them with a bit of a different eye. While I will never be the one in a leopard dress or top, accessories can be a great way to try out the look.

  18. Diane
    August 31, 2016 / 5:11 pm

    I love it, but think a wee bit goes a long way. I have two purses (one vintage) and a wonderful scarf I found about 25 years ago that I still wear.

  19. August 31, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    I love them on pseu, and on some people I know in person, but I’ve never been one for prints personally, except for scarves, or some boho prints like paisley or Liberty-type patterns. And of course, I dread the mad catlady label.

  20. Aniko
    August 31, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    Thanks for the great post. I just “pounced” on the Sam Edelman block heels. Very stylish!

  21. Alyson That's Not My Age
    September 1, 2016 / 7:46 am

    That’s a lot of leopard! I have a fair amount of animal print but I do like the watch strap…

  22. Kelly
    September 1, 2016 / 9:54 am

    Like you, I don’t usually do animal print on an item of clothing, but as an accent I love it – accessories, shoes, etc. Those Sofft loafers are adorable. I need them. How did you find the fit – true to size? Love your blog. So much style inspiration. I find myself disappointed when I check in and you haven’t posted something new. But I don’t begrudge you time away from the blog. That’s why you retired, right? 🙂

    • Susan B
      September 1, 2016 / 10:27 am

      Hi Kelly, yes I find the shoes fit true-to-size. Thanks so much for reading the blog and for your support! I’m working on a lot of things right now, including figuring out what kind of posting schedule makes the most sense, both for readers and for me. I’m going to be setting up a survey beginning late next week to get some quantitative data, and hope you’ll participate.

  23. Juli Engel
    September 1, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    Susan, love your leopard post. It made me do a mental inventory of my leopard pieces. I have a leopard shirt, but stick mainly to accessories when it comes to animal prints. I guess I have more than I realized; I just counted; a clutch, slim belt, two pairs of flats (ballet and loafer), a pair of ankle boots and three scarves (the Sole Society from Nordstrom’s being a favorite). Leopard is a neutral and looks great with so many other wardrobe pieces. I just try to be careful and only wear one leopard accessory at a time. Thanks for sharing some new items; they all look great!

  24. September 1, 2016 / 11:42 pm

    Leopard print on women of a certain age, of which I’m one since I am 61, I personally think reads as trying to hard. I really don’t think it’s complimentary for us older girls, just saying.

  25. September 1, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    Ugh, typo, should have typed “too”. Sorry, my mistake.

  26. Karalane
    September 8, 2016 / 1:16 pm

    I absolutely LOVE leopard print, hardly a week goes by that I don’t wear it. I have 2 leopard print dresses and one dress with leopard accents, a leopard skirt, leopard slip-on sneakers and ankle boots, a gray leopard cardigan and gray leopard skinny jeans. Plus a scarf, gloves, belt, and a purse.
    Of course I only wear 1 item at a time, and my dresses are classic wrap style and a bateau neck gathered sheath with sleeves, so their modest professional cuts provide a counterbalance for the sassy print. I usually wear them with a classic blazer and simple accessories – just right for my corporate job in the fashion retail industry.

  27. September 17, 2016 / 2:15 am

    I discovered leopard late in life but love it. My leopard summer coat is my favourite, even though I cannot wear it much (either too hot or too cold or I am wearing clashing patterns..). For the rest I stick with one item per outfit. Unless it is f.i. a belt and scarf. Although come to think.. no, just one item per outfit.
    I clicked on the YSL bag.. Ouch.. Steep.

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