Annie Vihtelic
Animal print

Walk on the styled side

By - Sep 4th, 2010 04:00 am
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Photo by Kekka via Flickr

Animal print is one of those things that you’re either a fan of, or you’re not. I’m a fan of it all – giraffe, zebra, leopard, snake, whatever – just not the real thing, of course. Give me leopard print over plaid, stripes, polka dots, or paisley any day.

I’ve been hearing a lot that animal print is big for fall, but I never really considered it a trend. After all, people have been wearing the look since the beginning of time. I’d say animal print has enough longevity to be considered a classic when it comes to textiles, and is not merely a fad.

Though I love them, I could not wear animal prints every day; I have to be in the right mood. It can’t be one of those days where I want to shrink into the background and blend in, because animal print is a look that will be noticed, no matter how little you wear. It doesn’t take much to add a little wild to your outfit; it just depends how adventurous you are.

I like to break up the boldness of animal prints into three categories – mild, styled, and wild.

MILD refers to those who at one point might have said, “I’m not the type to wear animal print,” but now realize they can’t resist its allure and hip detail. I’d place Katie Holmes in this category. She represents the fairly conservative and classic dresser who is aware of trends but will always stay close to the straight and narrow rather than venture over to the wild side.

If you’re more the mild type, it’s unlikely you’ll ever wear in-your-face animal print outfits. You will probably make more subtle additions and start one piece at a time. Maybe accessorize with it in the form of a belt, bag, or shoe. It’s a great way to ease into the look. Then if you’re ready to take it beyond small touches, try updating one of your old standards like a cardigan or blouse. Not all of today’s animal prints are bold and outrageous. You can definitely find something more subdued and appropriate for all ages and style personalities.

Photo by Robtxgal via Flickr

For STYLED, the first person who comes to mind is Jennifer Lopez. She’s a fashion chameleon who can get away with looking demure, dangerous, and dignified all at the same time — although she’s never one to blend into her environment.

This women in this category can pull off bigger, bolder pieces and effortlessly ooze sex appeal. Their look may cause other women to think, “I wish I could wear something like that.”  We take cues on how to wear looks from this type of woman, who is willing to experiment and test the waters for the rest of us. Keep in mind that people will notice you, so if you put together a fierce printed outfit, make sure you do it right.

These are some things I keep in mind: If you wear separates, do one piece of animal print at a time. Don’t try to match the prints on different pieces; they’re nearly impossible to coordinate and usually end up looking distracting. If you choose to wear an animal print top, go for a solid bottom and vice versa.

The definition of “overkill.” Photo by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

Then there’s WILD. This look should rarely be replicated unless you are some type of entertainer.

Pamela Anderson and Snooki from Jersey Shore are good examples. It’s like they do everything wrong with the print – too much, too tight, lots of skin – usually all going on at the same time. Wild may not be an enviable look, but it’s their personality to do things that are over-the-top. People like Snookie and Pam can get away with it, but here in Milwaukee it’s not a good look when heading to work, school, the grocery store or going about your day-to-day activities. If you do feel the need to go wild, save it for a night out when you can get away with exposing more.

If I had to place myself in one of the above categories, I’d probably be between mild and styled. I feel I’ve had enough experience wearing it in the past that I know how to do it right. I’m no Jennifer Lopez, that’s for sure, but l’m comfortable and confident when I wear animal print.

That’s really all that matters … oh, and that the fur is faux.

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