Knowing how to wear leopard print comes down to this one simple, unwritten rule: Treat it like any black item in your wardrobe. Yes, this might seem counterintuitive, but adding a little leopard to any outfit upgrades and harmonises a look. True, leopard print has often walked the line between flashy and luxurious, but it's been proven time and again that fashion girls can't resist it. And despite its ubiquity, leopard prints popularity began with one designer and his muse—more specifically, Christian Dior and Mitzah Bricard. Bricard was fascinated by leopard print, and as a result, during the '50s, Dior created a range of his accessories featuring the design, elevating leopard to be the must-have print of the moment.
Rex; PICTURED: Debbie Harry in 1979
From the '60s through to '80s, leopard print was often associated with rock stars—but that wasn't a bad thing. Debbie Harry of Blondie wore it better than anyone else. There were plenty of other leopard-print champions, but perhaps none loved it as much as Jackie Collins, who reportedly said her biggest weakness was "wearing too much leopard print." (Is there ever such a thing?)
Nowadays, it's a classic for any closet but particularly booming for autumn/winter 2018. Across the whole of the fashion world, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't own at least one standout animal-print piece right now—from the many silky slip skirts that keep selling out (yes, Réalisation, that's your fault) to an increase in leopard-print shoes on the virtual e-commerce shelves.
In 2018, there are plenty of fashionable ways to enjoy it and we've even decoded the differences between cheap and expensive-looking leopard prints for you. Keep scrolling for the 10 rules on how to wear leopard print and to see where to shop key pieces.
#1: Clash leopard with other classic patterns.
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Style Notes: As we pointed out earlier, you need to treat leopard print as if it were another neutral colour in your wardrobe. This means you can definitely wear it with other prints—our favourites are stripes and checks.
#2: Even small leopard-print accessories will make your outfit sing.
Style Notes: Wearing a tiny leopard-print bag is still a great way to bring out the rest of your outfit.
#3: A leo-print slip skirt is all you need.
Style Notes: Everyone we know wants a leopard print slip skirt right now. Wear it simply, with a white top of any variety and some neutral sandals or boots.
#4: It doesn't have to come in neutral tones.
Style Notes: While we'd normally say stick to the classic colours, there's something about this bold red Ganni leopard print that's so out-there, you can't help but appreciate it.
#5: Leopard print looks incredible with more leopard print.
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Style Notes: There's the worry that you'll come off a bit Bet Lynch, but you need to embrace that. Take a style tip from Giovanna Engelbert, and accessorise your outfit with gold jewellery.
#6: Zebra and leopard print were made for each other.
Style Notes: It's not a combination we could have predicted, but thanks to the neutral tones found in each, you can mix and match different animal prints together quite easily.
#7: Leopard-print shoes are the easiest route in.
Style Notes: Want a quick way to make anything you own that's plain look so much jazzier? Leopard shoes, friend.
#8: Animal-print trousers are totally acceptable.
Style Notes: For a no-holds-barred approach we'd recommend revisiting that '80s look and trying out leopard-print trousers with red leather boots.
#10: Never forget that leopard print looks incredible with denim.
Style Notes: Leopard print makes a classic white tee and blue jeans sing.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.