Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to choose animal prints

What to choose
Animal prints are demanding, both in personality -none of the animal prints are for the faint-hearted: you do need to have the personality to carry them- and the taste level they require. The classical animal prints are feline and reptile, although you can also find zebra, giraffe.
You can find, of course, other prints but I would advise the utmost caution, because the taste level is always doubtful. Take for instance cow and dog (Dalmatian)...

If you are an animal print woman, you will probably find you have a favourite pattern and will probably stick to it. I am myself a leopard print person, albeit in moderation.

Feline. Leopard is probably the most wearable and subtle and them (a smaller-sized pattern that usually combines tones of the same palette), with ocelot as a close second and tiger slightly behind, as bigger and bolder.


Leopard by Caroline Grant. A wearable green dress is not easy to find, especially not one that can be taken to the office or the classroom. Green is also a nice counterpoint to the leopard print.
The leopard trench is great for Body type As: short wide lapels, double breasted and A-line. The shades or beige and brown, quite muted, make it everyday. The necklace continues the "wild" theme started by the trench.
I like the idea of loafers for work, plus a medium kitten-heel with pointy toes because they elongate the leg. However, traditional square-toed loafers look good on most legs and stacked heels are even more comfortable.
Hobbs Angel Trench Coat / Hobbs Elysia Dress / Brooks Brother Handbag / L.K. Bennett Linda Loafer Shoes / Monies Shell Necklace / Gucci Rolo Scarf / Tom Ford Lipstick in Scarlet Rouge / Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Smoke Red.

Black and Tiger Print

Tiger Print by Caroline Grant. The construction of the LBD is very flattering for all body types: the vertical seams have a slimming effect, while the soft open pleats below the waist can be very forgiving.
The long gloves will keep your arms warm with a cape (or a three-quarter sleeve). These ones are Tory Burch but high-street brands also do long gloves every season in affordable prices.
The necklace, by Hervé van der Straeten can be found in all price lines: a hammered warm metal will always look more expensive than shiny, more wearable and less harsh for more mature complexions. Always go for glow instead of shine.
 The cape is just spectacular, and possible the most subtle tiger print out there.

M Missoni Tiger-print Cape / Reiss Ambrose Curved Dress / Gucci Lady Stirrup Handbag / Nine West Just Right Boots / Tory Burch Opera Gloves / Massimo Alba Wrinkled Scarf / Hervé van der Straeten Necklace / Hervé van der Straeten Bracelet / Tom Ford Lipstick in Wild Ginger / Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Ginger Fire.

Reptile. Snake is versatile, and has been safely worn by older ladies for decades (in matching sets of handbag and courts), and has fallen in and out of fashion every half decade, with real snake having lagged quite back for most. Lately, new colour combinations and materials have revitalized it quite a bit, adding mostly python-themed items.

DVF Python

Python by Caroline Grant. This DVF skirt is the perfect juxtaposition of shape and colour: square angles against animal print, cobalt blue against black. The colour-blocking is very slimming. You can trust DVF to think about a woman's shape when designing.
The wool trench coat is just the ticket to keep you warm when the temperatures drop.
Good gloves in supple leathers that fit perfectly will last for a decade, so it's worth your while to invest in a good pair in one of your neutral shades.
The court shoes are romantic and ladylike, although a plain bootie would also complement the skirt. Choose one that elongates the line of the leg, so no horizontal lines at the opening.
The lips and nails are kept deliciously neutral while the eyes have to respond to the animal print, so some degree of smokiness in the eye makeup is in order.

DVF Paulina Python Jackard Skirt / Ted Baker Albine Wool Trench Coat / L.K. Bennett Kate Jacket / Gian Battista Valli Silk Ruffle Top / Hobbs Littleton Handbag / L.K. Bennett Molly Court Shoes / Tory Burch Opera Length Gloves / Anton Heunis Ring / Urban Decay Palette in Smoked / Tom Ford Lipstick in Indian Rose / Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Mink Brule.

Zebra and giraffe. The first is a high-contrast, big-sized pattern and, therefore, not that easy to use for most. I'm not an enthusiast of giraffe, but there are nice things out there.


Zebra by Caroline Grant. A dress in simple lines and a neutral shade but interesting details (the black fringe) offers infinite possibilities for different moments of the day. This is day wear, with the neutral shoes (worn with nude pantyhose) and the shopper handbag.
The trench offers a much more subtle version of traditional B&W zebra, which is quite harsh for everybody but Deep Winters.

 Hobbs Totley Mac Coat / Orla Kiely Heavy Wool Dress / Mary Portas for Clarks La Wesley Court Shoes / Zara Two-toned Shopper Handbag / Daniela Swabe Dragon Drop Earrings / Aspinal of London Button Gloves / Asos Belt / Tom Ford Lipstick, Nail Lacquer and Compact in Black Orchid.


Abstract Animal Print by Caroline Grant. At the beginning, I put this print down as giraffe, but after a while I started to have my doubts. I researched giraffe fur patterns and it seems they come in different shades and slightly similar patterns according to subspecies, and none really fitted this one. Then I thought it reminded me of a crocodile, but its not that either. Ergo, abstract animal print. The necklace offers square lines to counterpoint the fluid abstract print.
There is a considerable amount of brown in this set (in the handbag, dress and jacket), but its made interesting by the different textures and print. The yellow in the sandals and in the scarf are a great zany counterpoint to them.

Hobbs Adeline Dress / Mango Suede Cropped Jacket / Radley Rollesby Handbag / Theory Toscana Shoes / Kate Spade New York Pyramid Hill Necklace / Henri Bendel Scarf / Salt Optics Cadence Sunglasses / Estée Lauder Mandarin Solid Perfume Compacts / Tom Ford Lipstick in Wild Ginger / Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Ginger Fire.
Quality is all-important
Animal prints can go tacky VERY easily. Go for natural fibres like silk, wool, or mixes of them or, in the case of leather, printed calf-skin.
It is better to choose items from reliable brands in whose taste you rely if you are unsure about your own in this matter: let's say less Topshop or H&M (unless handled with extreme care), and more Ann Taylor or Hobbs. That does not mean that really high-end brands cannot be tacky or that high street fashion cannot be spot on, it is more that neither are producing thinking of working women in mind (at least, not realistically), but rather of someone out to make an statement or just experimenting with fashion.
Finally, consider the amount of "sex-appeal" suggested by the print. Italian designers do propose, agresively and well, sexy animal print pieces in the "hammer-to-the-head" modality. Think, for instance, in Cavalli or D&G, not to mention Versace. If this is what you want, well, now you know where to get it. If it is not, you can always choose a scarf by them. Every woman should do what she very well pleases in this subject although, unfortunately, you will fare better if you consider this issue first.
In any case, enjoy your animal prints!


  1. Thank you, I really enjoy reading your posts, you put such a lot of effort and information into each one.