How to Confidently Wear Animal Prints at Any Age

Animal prints. They can be quite intimidating especially after 40 because too much leopard will make look like a middle age cougar on the prowl. How do you tame your big cat style to look classy, not flashy? Here’s how to look fabulous and feel confident in animal prints at any age.

animal print - leopard jeans


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 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 image 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 must stick to clothes with clean lines to look elegant and not cheesy. A leopard shirtdress, pencil skirt, cashmere cardigan, zebra trench, tiger sheath dress, or python pumps are all excellent examples.

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 in 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 a 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.


6. Keep Accessories Simple

An animal print is a solid focal point, so you don’t need to overcomplicate your look by wearing heavy or glitzy jewelry or accessories. Take a look in the mirror and ensure your accessories like earrings, necklaces, bracelets, 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.


7. Avoid Animal Prints on Heavy Areas

Animal prints are attention-getters, meaning an animal print worn over the heaviest part of your body will draw the eye there. For example, don’t wear an animal print skirt if you are bottom-heavy. 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.</span>

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 spotlight 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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12 thoughts on “How to Confidently Wear Animal Prints at Any Age

  1. I have a black suede outfit with a zebra print around the collar and cuffs. I look 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, a couple of zebra flats, and a snakeskin 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! It’s not what you wear but how you wear it. A woman can look fantastic in animals or any print because of her figure, beauty, or skin texture. A woman can look terrible at age twenty because of her figure, appearance, and skin texture. It annoys me when people assume you can’t wear this or do that after a certain period, etc., etc. Again, nothing to do with age but more with what kind of person you are and how you feel about yourself. Another example mini skirts. They somehow have an age cut-off. For heaven’s sake, a forty-five-year-old can look smashing in a mini while a twenty-five-year-old best wears pants. It all depends on how you pull it off, your figure, your attitude, your confidence, and so on. So anyone who says you can’t do this or that because you are aging tells them to get their heads examined and stop making up garbage that somehow travels through the years.

  4. I love how you emphasized the importance of toning this wild print down as the first in the list 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 different 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 jeans to run around town and see if you can’t have some fun with it!!!
    Your new top sounds excellent!! Enjoy!!!!

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

  7. In desperation, I used to be about 30 lbs heavier and bought a long animal print jacket to wear to several slightly dressy events. My husband hated that jacket – even after I lost 30 lbs and had it taken in, he still didn’t like it. The fit is very flattering now- but now I wouldn’t say I like 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 more significant is challenging to get right.

    1. Hi Cathy,
      Animal print can be tricky, and so many variations of image and quality of the fabric and style need to be considered. I (JoJamit got rid of an animal print swing coat I repurchased a few years ago. 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 giveaway pile. Wearing it casual is more accessible than trying to wear it for a formal affair. I would not rule it out for everyone, but a full animal print coat is not for the faint of heart!

  8. A 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 – I love the burgundy shoes- great outfit!

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