Fashion bloggers over 40

How to Wear Animal Prints at Any Age

Edith Prickley with leopard print sweaterAnimal prints over 40 can be scary. Too much leopard, and you can wind up looking like Edith Prickley. How do you tame this trend, so you don’t look like you escaped from the zoo? Here are a few tips on wearing animal prints at any age.

animal print - leopard jeans

leopard jeans red sweater

1. Wear Animal Prints Sparingly

A bit of animal print is sexy and chic, but too much of it will make others roar..roar with laughter. Don’t be a fashion victim. Be stingy with animal prints and live by the ONE ANIMAL RULE. What’s that? If you are wearing a leopard sweater, you don’t need a leopard purse or leopard shoes to go with it. That’s matchy-matchy overkill.

If you are new to animal prints, why not try them out by going with one chic animal print accessory? A shoe or a bag lets you ease into animal prints and jazz up an everyday outfit.

Leopard Print Andie McDowell

2. Don’t Mix Animal Prints

It’s the rare fashionista who can pull off more than one animal print at a time, and even then, she would know not to mix two different animals. Stick with one print per outfit. You don’t want to look like you are wearing an entire jungle.

black and white leopard print dress

3. Choose Classic  Shapes

Animal prints are wild and busy, so you need to stick to clothes with clean lines if you want to look elegant and not cheesy. A leopard shirtdress, pencil skirt, a cashmere cardigan, a zebra trench, a tiger sheath dress, or python pumps are all excellent examples of this.

Stay clear of animal print clothing that is fussy, frilly, sparkly, shiny, teenage-trendy, or skimpy. Stay sleek like the animal itself.



leopard print sweater
This leopard print sweater looks sexy with red.

 4. Pair Animal Prints with Solid Colors

Animal prints should be worn with solid colors, which is the main focus. Don’t wear animal prints with other patterns.

You’ll never go wrong wearing an animal print with a solid neutral color like white, black, brown, khaki, camel, or taupe. For example, try a giraffe print blouse with white pants or a leopard sweater with a camel skirt or black jeans. These neutrals subdue the leopard print and result in an elegant color combination.

Prefer a touch of bold? A gorgeous shade of red or oxblood paired with leopard looks dramatic and beautiful when done right. Emerald green, orange, and denim also can be striking worn with animal prints.


5. Wear Natural Looking Animal Prints

We’ve talked about the colors to wear with animal prints, but what about the animal print color itself? It’s best to stick to what you’d find in nature. The closer the print looks to the actual animal, the more high quality it will appear. Artificial-looking prints like fuchsia zebra or electric blue leopard are weird, fad color combinations that cheapen the look of animal prints.

Leopard Print Suit
Jerry Hall, sporting a glam leopard print suit.

What to wear with black leather pants for women over 40

6. Keep Accessories Simple

An animal print is a solid focal point, so you don’t need to overcomplicate your look by wearing a lot of heavy or glitzy jewelry or accessories. Take a look in the mirror and make sure your accessories like earrings, necklaces, bracelets and belts, and shoes complement your animal print, not compete for attention. Judith Ann Graham has it perfect. She’s teamed a graphic animal print blouse with leather pants. She might have been tempted to add matching snakeskin heels, but Judith chose gorgeous burgundy pumps and a matching burgundy handbag to make her outfit pop.

animal prints
Image Consultant Imogen Lamport teams up a leopard print cardigan with all black for a dramatic look.

7. Avoid Animal Prints on Your Heavy Areas

Animal prints are attention getters, which means that an animal print worn over the heaviest part of your body will draw the eye there. For example, if you are bottom-heavy, don’t wear an animal print skirt. You are better off wearing an animal print top with a skirt or pants in a dark, solid color to shrink your bottom half visually.

The reverse is true if you are big-busted. In this case, wear the dark color up top and the leopard print down below. Do you have great legs? Try a pair of animal print shoes to put the spotlight on your fab ankles and calves.

Animal prints can be fun, so long as you follow these laws of the jungle. If you are getting into them, an easy way to start is with an animal print accessory like a tiger print scarf, zebra bracelet, or python pump.

Do you own an animal print outfit? I do.

Check out how I wear my leopard pants and get more ideas for how other 40+ bloggers wear animal prints.

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15 thoughts on “How to Wear Animal Prints at Any Age

  1. I have a black suede outfit that has zebra print around the collar and cuffs. I am looking forward to wearing it when the weather gets cold, but I am concerned that it is out of style. I haven’t seen anyone else wearing an outfit like it. Should I get rid of it?

    1. Hi Irene,
      Leopard print is more the trend this fall. This does sound a bit dated with the matching collar and cuffs. I’d say, if you feel that it is out of style, you are probably right. Go with your gut.
      Cheers, Deborah

  2. I like animal print in small doses, worn as accessories. I have a pair of leopard print flats that I love, a leopard print scarf, and a pair of zebra flats, and a snake skin purse. These prints are fun and timeless and I think they look great on anyone from 0 to 100.

  3. Fashion has no age. People assume when you get to a certain age that’s when you need to change your clothing style. Rubbish! Its not what you wear, but how you wear it. A woman can look fantastic in animal or any other print, because of her figure, beauty, or skin texture and a woman can look terrible at age twenty, once again because of her figure, appearance and or skin texture. It really annoys me when people assume after a certain age, you cant wear this or do that, ect, ect. Again, nothing to do with age, but more to do with what kind of person you are and how you feel about yourself. Another example, mini skirts. They some how have an age cut off. For heavens sake, a forty five year old can look smashing in a mini while a twenty five year old is best wearing pants. It all has to do with how you pull it off, your figure, your attitude your confidence and so on. So anyone that says you cant do this or that because you are ageing, tell them to get their heads examined and stop making up garbage that somehow travels throughout the years.

  4. I love how you emphasized the importance of toning this wild print down as the first in the list on because this trendy, luxe print is already a statement, I learned more about wearing it with other neutral colors to balance it. Lately however, I´ve been experimenting with how to wear it with other prints and bright colors. I´ve been gathering inspiration around the web.

    Thanks a lot for this gorgeous guide!

  5. Hi Cathy, LOL.. that seems to happen a lot around here!!! You should try wearing that leopard coat with some jeans to run around town in and see if you can’t have some fun with it!!!
    Your new top sounds great!! Enjoy!!!!

  6. Gee thanks for answering so quickly. After i wrote this I found a really nice small scale animal print blouse at winners which i just love. It is very subtle tiny scale leopard type pattern on a sheer fabric. I wore it over black jeggings with a narrow slate bow belt and a long cardi and metallic ballet flats. Being 5’9″ – this is a great look for me. So, I guess my motto is now never say never. But once you hate something – just get rid of it.

  7. I used to be about 30 lbs heavier and in desperation bought a long animal print jacket to wear to a number of slightly dressy events. My husband hated that jacket – even after i lost 30 lbs and had it taken in he still didnt like it. The fit is very flattering now- but now i hate the animal print too.

    I think after age 50 or so, animal print is best confined to smaller accessories like a scarf or even better –
    Gloves or perhaps shoes. Anything larger is difficult to get right.

    1. Hi Cathy,
      Animal print can be tricky and there are so many variations of print and quality of the fabric and style that needs to be considered. I (JoJami)just got rid of an animal print swing coat that I had bought a few years back. I wore it for fun with jeans while running errands around town. I have a bold personality and seemed to be able to “pull it off”, but I got tired of it and had not worn it much lately so it went in the give away pile. Wearing it casual is easier than trying to wear it for formal affair. I would not rule it out for everyone but a full animal print coat is not for the faint of heart!

  8. Great tip to add to my fashion “do not do” list! Don’t overdo it on the animal prints – check!! I’ll save my need to be more animal-like for the gym! Agreed – love the burgundy shoes- great outfit!

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