Animal Print Clothes for Women l Animal Tops & Dresses
There’s something primal about a woman wearing animal print attire—passionate, intuitive, instinctive. Ever since animal prints took the fashion scene by storm in the 1930s, women wearing animal print clothing have inspired strong opinions, from clutched pearls to dropped jaws. But one thing is sure—they don’t get ignored. A woman in animal print clothing owns every room she walks into.
Whether you are a fashionista on the make, or an artistic soul close to the earth, there is an animal print that works for you. If you’re reading this, you have likely already crossed the rubicon. You already know that you aren’t afraid to be bold, to stand out, to make room for the animal inside and express it on the outside. Ready to take the next step? Let’s take a sexy safari through the exciting world of animal print clothing!
History of Animal Print Clothes
Animal skin clothing may be some of the earliest prints ever worn by humankind. Before fabric printing became an established technology, animal skins were used as garments—along with whatever print was on the skin being used. Hunters in some tribal cultures believed that wearing the skin of an animal imbued them with the powers of that animal—for example, leopard print would give them the strength and speed of a leopard.
Considered exotic and expensive—especially if the animal was dangerous or hard to slaughter—animal print clothing has long been a symbol of status and wealth, favored by royalty.
In the high fashion world, animal prints rose to prominence in the 1930s. This was in no small part due to the hit 1932 film Tarzan the Ape Man. Stars Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) and Maureen O’Sullivan (Jane) prominently wore skimpy animal-print costumes, becoming instant sex symbols and sparking a world-wide craze for similar prints.
Pin-up models like Bettie Page fueled the animal-print craze in the 1940s, bolstering the reputation of animal prints as edgy and sensual, coinciding with the leading edge of the earliest women’s liberation and empowerment movements.
In the 1950s, iconic designer Christian Dior fell in love with leopard print, thanks to the influence of his personal consultant Mitzah Bricand. Together, they ushered in an era of classy, elegant animal print clothing, elevating its reputation from girlie mags to high society.
But animal print wasn’t done being bad yet. The hippies of the 1960s and the punk rockers of the 1970s embraced eye-catching animal prints as a sign of proud adherence to counterculture and revolution. Still, animal prints have never left high fashion behind, making a resurgence in 80s power outfits that incorporated not only great cat prints but also snakeskin, zebra, and even more esoteric prints.
How to wear Animal Print Clothes & Be Fashionable
Animal print clothing is a bold choice. Wear it right, and you’re the heartbreaker of the western world. Wear it wrong, and you’ll look as out of place as a zebra in a lion’s den. But don’t let that scare you away! Here are some points to keep in mind so you can make animal prints work to your advantage every time.
Know Your Animal
When it comes to animal print clothing, you have almost as many choices as the animal kingdom has biodiversity. Each animal print has different applications, implications, and levels of popularity on the fashion scene. Here’s what to know about some of the most popular animal prints:
Leopard. Round spots with dark accents, known as rosettes are usually natural brown, tan, and black, but you can find leopard prints in other colors. Made popular by Christian Dior in the 1950s, leopard print has an elite association with wealth and power. Leopard print clothing has the longest standing association with high fashion of any animal print.
Cheetah. Solid-color spots, circular or ovaloid, with more of a polka-dot effect compared to the “patterned” and organic impression of leopard print. Cheetah print has a more disreputable reputation than leopard print, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided! Tasteful accents of cheetah print show that you are a free spirit, at ease with your sensual side.
Zebra. Zebra print is unmistakable in stark black and white, an organic striped pattern of high contrasts. To choose zebra print is to embrace the dualities of life and of womanhood—the light and the dark, the madonna and the vixen, the triumph and the heartbreak. A woman in zebra print clothing expresses her internal integration—a harmony of beautiful contradictions.
Tiger. Tiger print is also unmistakable for it’s warm brown, tan, white, and black striped pattern. As long as humans have known of the tiger’s existence, these animals have been feared and coveted. A tiger pelt was a prize beyond comparison … but messing with a tiger could get you killed. A woman in tiger-print clothing is no one to mess with—a boss of the highest order. She plays to win, and she gets what she wants.
Snake. The irregular diamond texture of reptile skin has a long history in high fashion in the form of leather-alternative accessories like belts and watch straps. Snake print garments can come in any number of dramatic or subtle colors. Slinky and sexy, a woman in snake print clothing is a prize for a patient and charismatic snake charmer.
Know Your Strategy
A great outfit may look delightfully carefree, but few of these happen by accident. This is especially true when talking about a bold choice like animal print clothing. You need a strategy to keep the outfit from falling apart. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you strategize an outfit that includes animal prints …
Pick an Area to Highlight. Where on your body do you want the attention to go? If you want to highlight your legs, consider an animal print on a shorter skirt or dress. If you want to highlight your waist, try a cinched dress in animal print.
Balance Patterns. Animal print is an assertive pattern. It tends to work best in an outfit if it doesn’t have to fight for attention with other assertive patterns. Consider balancing your animal print clothing with solid colors in dark or light neutral tones to give your animal prints a chance to shine.
Don’t Mix Patterns. Be careful about pairing your animal print clothing with other striped, spotted, or checked patterns. A soft plaid can work, but in principle you don’t want to create an outfit that is too busy with aggressive patterns. Let your animal print be the star of the show.
Know Your Garment
With some basic strategy points in mind, it’s time to pick the garment for your animal print statement. Here are some points to consider for each possible piece of animal print clothing you might incorporate …
Dress. The dress is the most common animal print garment you will find. Look for your favorite style of dress in animal print and pair it with neutral outerwear, shoes, and accessories for a striking look.
Shirt or Blouse. Incorporating animal print in a shirt or blouse can provide just the right amount of flirty fun without overwhelming the outfit. Try it with jeans, neutral slacks, or a black skirt.
Skirt or Pants. Animal print on the lower body makes a bigger impression than an animal print top, without the commitment of a dress. Pair your animal print skirt with black tights, dark shoes, or a light top for classy contrasts.
Jacket and Outerwear. Choosing an animal print as outerwear, like a jacket, sweater, or cardigan, puts the bold print front-and-center. Try using animal print outerwear to spice up an edgy outfit in dark, light, or neutral tones.
Suit. Choosing an animal print suit is an aggressive statement. Beware of looking kitschy, but if you can pull it off, no one will ever doubt your confidence.
Shoes. Animal print shoes can add drama to an otherwise neutral or conservative outfit. Consider the print in flats, booties, heels, or sandals. Be careful with super-high heels—those shoes are saucy to begin with.
Accessories. Animal print accessories are a great way to add excitement to an outfit. Consider an animal print bag, tights, earrings, scarves, and earrings.
Know The Attire
The most surefire way to craft a hit outfit is to dress for the occasion. That way, you never look out of place. Fortunately, there are ways to incorporate animal print clothing into nearly any attire. Here’s how to calibrate animal prints for the occasion …
Business Casual. You might not think animal print clothing will fly at work, but animal print does work with business casual if you wear it subtly. Try some animal print shoes, or an animal print blouse beneath a neutral blazer. Stealth sexy! This is particularly effective if you have a more creative role within your company—it will make sense that you are edgy.
Night on the Town. A night out is your chance to let it all hang out. Don’t be afraid to pick a sleek animal-print dress, maybe with a leather or faux-fur jacket if it’s chilly out. Choose some smashing shoes, and you can’t go wrong.
Formal. Women walk a fine line wearing animal print at formal occasions other than accessories, but don’t count it out. A flowing zebra print or shimmering snakeskin print can make a stunning gown, paired with elegant black heels.
Q&A Animal Print Clothes
Why Are Animal Prints So Popular?
As long as there have been animals and people, there has been animal print clothing—starting with clothes made from the actual pelts of animals. Like most artists, fashion designers often look to nature for inspiration. Animal prints provoke strong, often instinctual emotions, which makes them hard to pass up for many top trendsetters.
Animal prints also project opulence. In a pre-vegan era, animal pelts were often difficult or even dangerous to obtain, making it a popular choice for royalty. Although modern animal prints rarely require the death of a cheetah or a zebra, the prestige endures.
Why Do People Wear Animal Prints?
The simplest reason people keep coming back to animal prints is because animal print clothing gets noticed. We’re usually talking about a bold pattern, with high-contrast stripes and spots. You don’t wear it to blend in—you wear it to stand out.
Women gravitate to animal print clothing if they are confident, creative, and sensual. Women in creative fields, in particular, choose animal prints. Even if she isn’t an artist or a pop star, a woman wearing an animal print refuses to fold her hands in her lap and obey—she is a rule-breaker, an influencer, a game-changer.
Are Animal Prints Still In Style?
Animal prints have never really gone out of style. Over the decades they have had different connotations—pinup girls in the 40s, movie stars in the 50s, hippies in the 60s, punk rockers in the 70s, elite socialites in the 80s—but they have always been present.
You can evoke retro chic anytime by self-consciously imitating any of these past trends. For creative women, animal print clothing has a place even in contemporary outfits. As with any bold pattern, you might have to be judicious to avoid a fashion faux-pas … but pull it off, and you’re golden.
Are Animal Prints Tacky in 2021?
When overused, any theme can become tacky, especially an edgy and attention-grabbing theme like animal prints. For example, if you decorated your entire bedroom in animal print, “boom-boom room” comparisons would be inevitable.
But animal prints are some of the oldest and most beloved prints. Evey in times where they aren’t enjoying being at the forefront of the fashion world, they have never dropped out of the public consciousness altogether. Animal prints can be incorporated into classy outfits in 2021 and any other year.
What Does Your Animal Print Say About You?
Animal print garments tell the world that you are confident, creative, and sensual. You aren’t afraid to stand out in any crowd, neither are you afraid of your primal desires and ambitions; you won’t stop until you achieve them.
Tastefully deployed, animal print clothing shows people that you can flirt with the edge while staying just on the right side of it. You’re part of the pack … but a dynamic and exciting part of the pack who marches to the beat of her own drum. Animal print clothes are for women who are sexy, stylish, and powerful and who aren’t afraid to let everyone else know that.