15 tips to look sophisticated in animal prints (ultimate guide)
  1. Signature clothes of the decades
  2. Animal prints are It right now
  3. How to wear animal print in midlife
    • Which animal prints work over 40
    • Outfit ideas with animal prints
        • Snake print outfit ideas
        • Zebra print outfit ideas
        • Giraffe print outfit ideas
        • Leopard print outfit ideas


    • How to wear animal print at the office
    • What doesn’t work for ageless style in animal pattern
    • Stylist’s remarks

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

Signature clothes of the decades

The 1950s are known for the wide skirts, the 60s for the Mod. In the 70s, it was the era of Bohemian style. Read flared legs and tie-dye T-shirts. The 80s had the wide shoulders and long jackets. The 90s were black everything. Jeans with crotches hanging at the knees and exposing the Y were everywhere. The 00s were famous for the empire-style tops. Every woman looked like she were pregnant. The 10s probably will be known for the leopard print everything like leopard print tights, footwear, coats, dresses, bags. You name it. This  print is thought of as a neutral, on the contrary to the 50s. Back then it was for date night only. Now snake and zebra joined the animal print trend. This guide addresses how to wear animal prints in a sophisticated way in all kind of dressing situation.

Animal prints are It right now

The current animal print trend is dominated by this cat’s nice pattern. But what about all the others that we saw on the runways like giraffe, zebra or snakes? They are as easy to style, may be even easier in case of zebra and giraffe. Black and white is a classic. Thus, a white or black skirt or pair of pants and you’ll be office appropriate with a zebra top, blouse, or cardigan. Brown and yellow giraffe works well for all fashionistas whose color palette is Fall.

Zebra is a classic with a twist. #agelessstyle Click To Tweet

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How to wear animal print in midlife

To look sophisticated in animal prints is a challenge at any age. Nobody wants to look like a feature of the animal as a Halloween costume shopped from the own closet. But the older one gets, the more urgent it is to get it right.

As a neutral leopard is mixed with plaid, stripes or floral as well as solid colors others than red – again on contrary to the sex-bomb look of the 50s. … and yes, unless worn tight, super mini, extreme cleavage, it is totally work appropriate in classic cuts. So to speak it lost it’s “sex appeal.”

Now let’s mix things up a bit in the zoo and take a look at animal prints in general.

Which animal prints work over 40

  1. The easiest way to wear animal print is on a pair of shoes.
  2. Animal prints should be in the colors (or close to the colors) of the animal’s fur or skin. In this case, you can treat the animal print as a neutral.
  3. Wear only one animal print item per outfit unless you have an Eclectic Style. You don’t know your style? Take this free online style quiz to find out.
  4. Animal print requires tailored clean, sleek and simple cuts like a shirt dress, pencil skirt or cardigan. Style the pattern like you style your neutrals.
  5. Animal print scarves, pumps, clutches, totes, satchels are easy to style.
  6. Wearing animal print with pieces that harmonize with the print rather than compete with each other it is a safe bet as well.
  7. Leopard print with red is a classic.
  8. Try leopard print with spots larger than the floral print that picks up at least three colors of the leopard print. It may or may not work. Read risky! See this guide for mixing prints and patterns.

When you liked these free outfit tips, and want styling tips for all kind of dressing situation in midlife, buy my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.

Outfit ideas with animal prints

Below you can find some photo inspirations for how to style the various animal prints over 40.

Snake print outfit ideas

blogger in posh casual trendy outfit with denim and animal print J. Crew snake print skirt, Ray Ban sunglasses, Levis denim jacket, Judith Leiber belt, Festina watch, pantyhose, Covington pumps, Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own)

fashion blogger in business casual office looks with snake design skirt, sweater, tights and boots Anne Klein sweater, GNW tights, Söfft booties, Hermes collier de chien leather bracelet, Hermes collier de chien bangle, smoky quartz buckle, Altuzarra skirt (all own) and pearl studs c/o Wendy Mignot

over 50 years old blogger in snake print pants Sienna Studio pants, GNW Luxe sweater, Moda International cardigan, Festina watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Kieselstein Cord belt, peridot-pearl necklace (all own)

You can find a style guide entirely devoted to snake print outfit ideas at the link.

Zebra print outfit ideas

style blogger Nicole working out at the gym in a zebra top Zebra top c/o Covered Perfectly, own Very Fine Dance Sports shoes, and No Nonsense leggingsmature lady in zebra print GNW zebra pattern cardigan, Newports News leather pants, Jake’s hounds-tooth blazer, Ivanka Trump pumps, Moschino belt, and 3.1 Philip Lim tote (all own)
mature fashion blogger with animal print tee and leather skirt 3/4 sleeve zebra print v-neck Tee c/o Covered Perfectly, own Sienna Studio skirt, dagwood flower necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle, GNW tight, and Harley Davidson booties

Giraffe print outfit ideas

over 40 woman wearing a giraffe print I.N.C. leather pants, knitwit giraffe print sweater, layering top (similar here), Hermes collier de chien bangle, statement necklace and Clarks booties (all own)
mature woman wearing plaid with girafe print Ruby sheath dress, knitwit girafe print cashmere sweater, GNW tights (all own)

Leopard print outfit ideas

Leopard is the easiest to style of the animal prints. It works with most neutral colors as well as some bright ones like orange or red. Leo pumps are a classic. Thus, they are an easy way to start when you are new to animal pattern.

midlife woman in leopard and floral print GNW leopard print cardigan, eShakti floral print dress, H-belt, Michael Kors sandals, Jaeger tote (all own) and wooden watch c/o Jordover 50 years old fashion blogger in leo sweater, sheath winter outfit with over-the-knee boots Unbranded leopard sweater, Eli Tahari sheath dress, Longchamp bag, GNW tights, and Dior over-the-knee boots (all own)over 50 years old fashion blogger in floral and snowleopard cardigan with tweed skirt Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, Notations cardigan, snowleopard print cardigan, Modalo Pippa bag, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, Hermes collier de chain bangle, Covington pumps (all own)

midlife style blogger layering a leopard print GNW leopard cardigan, Ann Taylor sweater, Sienna Studio leather pencil skirt with Harley Davidson booties (all own)

fashion blogger with long curls, knitdress, tall boots J. Peterman knit dress, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, GNW tight, Manelo Blahnik leo print boots (all own)

style blogger Nicole donning a fall outfit with three layers in shades of gray and green GNW cardigan, Hermes collier de chien belt, Sienna Studio skirt, Steve Madden lizard imprint pumps, triple necklace, pantyhose, Gucci bamboo handle ostrich bag (all own), green motorcycle jacket c/o Leatherskin and olive halftee c/o Halftee

over 50 woman wearing leopard print pumps Levis denim jacket, G-III skirt, Aldo leopard print pumps, Ray Ban sunglasses, Celine tote (all own) and T-shirt c/o Marine Layermature stylish woman with leather pants, sweater, leopard print scarf winter business casual look I.N.C. leather pants, GNW Luxe sweater, silk scarf, and Clark booties (all own)

midlife style blogger in business casual work outfit with skirt, top, cardigan and leo print boots Max Mara skirt, Moda International cardigan, unbranded sweater, smoky quartz bracelet and necklace, Yes Saint Laurent bag, twigg’s pantyhose, and Manolo Blahnik boots (all own)

over 50 years old woman in classic winter outfit Leopard diamond jacket, Eli Tahari leather dress, Dior over-the-knee boots, Longchamp bag, leather gloves, pill box hat (all own)over 50 woman doning leopard patterned tight Oliveo  leather skirt, GNW Luxe sweater, GNW leopard print tights, Nine West plateau heeled loafers, Hermes collier de chien bangle and Hermes enamel bangles (all own)

Nicole of High Latitude Style in leopard cardigan and orange skirt Max Mara Weekend skirt, Paloma Picasso x belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Valentino studded boots, Seiko watch, statement earrings (all own)

Do you like any of these outfit inspirations? Then it would help me if you pinned them to your own Pinterest board. It’s a great way that your friends, family, and others can see them too.

How to wear animal print at the office

Times have changed. In the 50s, animal print was considered too sexy for the office. However, today it’s ok, even when your work dress code requires classic attire. All that is needed is that the outfit consists of classic pieces and the print has the beast’s natural colors. Feline pattern are easier to get away with than snake. A snowleopard print is a nice variation.

Always go for natural colors when wearing animal print. Click To Tweet You can wear a trendy item in a conservative work environment when everything else is classic. Click To Tweet

midlife style blogger in Euro Chic snow leopard cardigan, pencil skirt, pumps

 work attire with snow leopard cardigan, pencil skirt, statement belt

midlife woman in classic boxy rust leather coat with structured bag, snow leopard print jacket

 style blogger Nicole shows how to look classic in a snow-leopard outfit
Boxy leather coat (similar coats here) over GNW snow leopard cardigan, layering top (similar here and here), gray pencil skirt with DIY necklace and DIY belt, Esprit bag, and Steve Madden classic pumps (all own)
Always style your outerwear too. Click To Tweet

The wide statement belt gives the outfit some twist and keeps it interesting. The boxy cayenne colored leather coat gives the outfit a modern touch.

When you have clients with whom you have to go for a work lunch your outerwear outfit must meet the work dress code too. Click To Tweet

When you like style recipes as a short cut for getting dressed in style buy my style recipe book now.

See this post how to look classic in a snow-leopard outfit. #agelessstyle Click To Tweet Then they owe you, and I say thank you! 😉

What doesn’t work for ageless style in animal pattern

  1. Animal prints from head to toe
  2. Different animal prints in one outfit
  3. Animal prints in colors that are far away from the actual animal’s fur or skin colors
  4. Tight, short, and shiny leopard dresses, skirts or tops
  5. Baggy clothes with animal print
  6. Ruffles, embroidery, sequins, lace and animal print all together in one outfit
  7. Ruffle animal print tops or tired animal print skirts
  8. Animal print patchwork in bags or leather jackets
Never wear one animal print head-to-toe. You are not the animal and it's not Halloween. #animalprint #styletip Click To Tweet

Stylist’s remarks

Animal print trends are perenial trends. Leopard print seems to be an eternal clssic. It works on many occasions except for a Military Ball, and Black or White Tie formal events like inauguration or formal weddings.

How do you style your animal prints? What are your style challenges with respect to animal prints?

P.S. Let’s keep in touch. Register for my free High Latitude Style newsletter and ask your friends to sign up too!!

Photos: G. Kramm

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