How to Wear Leopard Print

by Mira

Useful style advice for women on how to make classy statements of style with leopard print clothes and accessories.

Leopard print never goes out of fashion, and yet it can be something of an acquired taste. A shirt or a jacket, not to mention leopard print pants, can easily get to be too much leopard pattern on one's body. I've never been a big fan.

Lately, however, with the resurgence of this fashion trend, I’ve started paying more attention to how fans of this pattern wear it, and have noticed some very interesting and successful combinations. So if you’re considering including leopard print in your wardrobe, read on for advice on how to mix and match old clothes to make new fashion statements around a leopard print item (shirt, jacket, pants, scarf, etc.). You may find that wearing leopard print is easier to pair happily than you'd thought, and will not require a major overhaul of your wardrobe. Following are some style tips that I hope even seasoned wearers of this fashionable pattern can find useful.

Leopard Print Cardigan with Denim or Striped Shirt

My favorite clothing items right now of all you can find with animal / leopard print are jackets and cardigans. You may think that if you were to wear them you had to keep your shirt and pants in solid colors and neutral tones but that’s not necessarily true. I’ve seen them with denim shirts and they look fabulous. (In fact I prefer them with denim shirts and black pants rather than with black or white shirts and blue jeans.) I’ve also seen them with black and (light) beige horizontal stripes, in a combo that's rather common these days, and enjoyed the look. When pairing with such a shirt though, make sure the stripes are much lighter than the beige in the jacket.

Sheer Kimono Oversized Cardigan. You Can Choose Leopard Pattern

Leopard Print Jacket with a Red Dress

Leopard print also works extremely well with red, and red is in this season. In fact, a leopard pattern item with a red one can be just as stylish as a red and black combo. So if you have a red pencil dress (something that follows the shape of your body but is more elegant than sexy), you can pair it with a longer leopard print jacket. There’s something about beige, black, and red together that makes the combo very appealing. Also, the print makes that outfit shine.

Make sure you also make a statement with your shoes. Rather than choosing simple black pumps, go with something with a little more detail, not print-wise but shape-wise. A pair of buckle pumps in two colors would work great. I’d go with patent leather shoes, as I’ve seen in one photo, but I think faux leather shoes wouldn’t be amiss either. And they don’t have to be black and beige. Black and steel gray works just as nicely; in fact, I think they’re even better, as they open up the outfit.

Business Pencil Dress. Available in Black and Red
Faux Fur Leopard Overcoat

How to Wear a Leopard Print Shirt

Leopard shirts and blouses go well with black pants, of course, but off-white pants work equally well. You can also wear them with a solid-color skirt (I prefer red, dark aubergine, and merlot) or pair of pants. You can then choose a black jacket and large faux pearls to complete the outfit.

While a leopard jacket works nicely with blue jeans, I think you should avoid jeans when wearing leopard shirts – unless you’re wearing a shirt that only has a leopard breast pocket, or one with leopard trimmings). You need something to open up the leopard print, and that can be achieved either by wearing a pair of black pants that will make the print pop, or by wearing a pair of red pants (including red denim pants, especially with a flimsy blouse) and a black jacket, for instance, that will create a push and pull of color.

Leopard Peplum Shirt
Leopard Print Zipper Jacket
Sheer Tulle Leopard Print Shirt
Leopard Pattern Blouse
Skinny Stretch Jeans in Merlot
Cord Jeans, Available in Red

Leopard Skirt

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of leopard print skirts (and pants), unless the skirt is a mini skirt. But I have seen leopard print skirts in black and white; they can be wonderful.

Leopard Scarves

I prefer black and white leopard print scarves myself. There’s a nice model on Amazon I really like. Not quite leopard pattern (it's a stylized leopard pattern), but still very fashionable and wonderful with so many outfits! If you’re tempted to wear a leopard scarf with a striped black and white shirt, I’d say go for the beige and black pattern; otherwise the result is too flat. You can also wear the beige leopard scarf with a shirt that's striped in large red and black bands. I'd go with a women's rugby shirt as well. I could only find a men's rugby shirt on Amazon. I'm showing it so you see the look.

Leopard Print Moto Jacket
Pippa Middleton was spotted wearing a similar scarf with a light aubergine jacket
Leopard Print Infinity Scarf
Click to see it in red and black as well

Leopard Shoes

My favorite leopard footwear are ballet shoes. They make a bold stylish statement in a casual shape, which is great, I think. I much prefer them over leopard high heels. I think one of the main tricks when wearing leopard print is to be careful not to overdress in other ways. Also, to combine stylish elements with casual ones.

Nine West Ballet Flat
Jessica Simpson Leopard Flats

Leopard Sneakers

Leopard sneakers work great with a white shirt or T-shirt and jeans, of course. You can also wear these, too, with a striped black and white shirt. You can get shirts with stripes of various widths to vary the look. I think both thin-striped and large-striped shirts look great.

New Balance Women's Sneakers. You Can Choose Leopard Print
Running Sneakers, Lightweight. You Can Choose Leopard Print

Leopard Suspenders

Suspenders are fashionable these days, and they are wonderful for leopard print, because they add a playful, casual yet chic touch to your outfit that goes well with an outfit incorporating leopard clothes or accessories. You can go with beige and brown leopard suspenders, or with black and white ones. My favorite are the latter. If you choose the former, they would go well with a white or black shirt and merlot or red jeans. For a more powerful fashion statement, you can choose a black and white striped top and merlot jeans.

Calvin Klein Ladies' Cotton Stretch Dress Shirt

I hope this has been helpful

I hope this article has helped you make some fashion decisions that include leopard print! Have fun wearing it! And if you're already wearing leopard pattern a lot, I'd appreciate a comment from you on some of the outfits you put together with it.

Updated: 07/12/2018, Mira
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Mira on 01/31/2017

Good point :) Thanks for visiting, Tolovaj!

Tolovaj on 01/30/2017

Isn't interesting how animal patterns never really fall out of fashion? Lovely presentation, Mira!

Mira on 01/30/2017

Yes, I agree, they can be in the right combinations :)

Mira on 11/10/2015

Thank you, Carley! Leopard shoes can be fun :)

CarleyClagg on 11/10/2015

I love this! These are all great ways to wear leopard print. i'm especially a fan of the shoes!

Mira on 08/12/2015

Thank you, Anita! Tight pants and bustier in leopard print can look good if you have the body and attitude for it :)

Sarandipity on 08/11/2015

Great tips Mira. I love leopard print myself. I used to wear a real t.right pants and bustier in velvet leopard a long time ago. One of my favourite outfits. When I outwore the first (I designed it myself), I got another suit made.

Mira on 06/25/2015

Derdriu, I took a look at Chronicles and it appears to be a disjointed compilation of some of Dylan's thoughts and remembrances. I may buy it, but as I'm not familiar with some of the bands and names, I may not get a lot out of it. Still, one reviewer said he mentions various authors as well. I may be in more luck with that.
You said your sister wrote about Dylan and Yates. I remember the article. So Emma's your sister? She writes just like you, btw!

Mira on 06/25/2015

From what I've heard and read of his lyrics so far, Bob Dylan surely sounds like an inspiration. I'll have to read and see. Maybe there's something there for a future book :) Finding connections between his writings and other poems sounds like a great project, especially if he mentioned his favorite authors in his autobiography. Yes, I've seen that movie and really enjoyed it!

DerdriuMarriner on 06/25/2015

Mira, My pleasure to give reminders concerning Bob Dylan. ;-)
My sister read Bob Dylan's autobiography, "Chronicles Volume One" and said that it was intriguing.
Have you seen Martin Scorsese's documentary on Bob Dylan, "No Direction Home"? It's very interesting. It covers his early fame, from the New York scene to his retreat from fame after his motorcycle accident.
It is quite a challenging, deep, and rewarding venture to delve into Bob Dylan's lyrics. For everything that has been plumbed from his words, there's so much more. His songs are like icebergs: what you see is only a small part of the whole. (My sister, who is taking a break from writing so her writings are no longer available on the internet, did a study of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and made connections with a poem by William Butler Yeats, a poet who explored timelessly deep truths in his way just as Bob Dylan does in his.)
Is there a chance of your writing about what you glean from his lyrics and from reading about him?

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