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Style Advice

Why animal prints are summer's polka dots

Why animal prints are summer's polka dots

Some time in the past year, animal prints clawed their way onto the mainstream style scene and reached polka dot-level ubiquity. No, they haven’t completely shed their status as the wild child of the print family, but they’re no longer limited to rock stars and runways. Even Burberry, best known for its signature check, has gotten in on the trend. And heaps of high-street retailers are following suit, which means if you’re typically not the showy type, now is your chance to get in on the action without appearing too ostentatious.

If this is your first time incorporating animal prints into your look, remember that there are a variety of ways to pull them off. “I can assure you animal prints can be done in a really tasteful way,” stylist Alexander McCalla says. From a tamer cheetah print to graphic zebra stripes, there is a whole spectrum of print options to choose from. Try easing in to the trend with leopard prints – they’re considered a neutral and serve as a great foundational print. And speaking of neutrals, they’re an easy way to temper the boldness of an animal print. “When you’re wearing a piece that might be considered daring, the key is to offset it with something more pared-down,” Alexander says. “If you wear a leopard-print coat, you can end up looking like Mike Tyson, but layering an animal-print t-shirt under a beige cardigan can create a really smart, balanced look.”

Still not totally convinced animal prints are your vibe? Try experimenting with them in small doses through accessories and footwear. Alexander suggests a pair of giraffe-patterned Converse (they're bold yet not overbearing), but a zebra-printed belt or a pair of colorful leopard socks will also do the job. Even a subtle jacket lined in an animal print or a contrasting animal-printed collar, which lends an unexpected pop of pattern to your look.

Before you walk out the front door in your new cheetah-print top, remember the most essential thing you can pair with any animal print is the right attitude. It’ll help you channel your inner-rock star – without committing to leather pants and eyeliner. “By their nature, animal prints are statement pieces, so the trick is carrying them with confidence,” Alexander says. “When you think of someone like Mick Jagger, the reason you don’t think twice about him in animal prints is because of his confidence.” The key is to experiment with different pieces and see how you feel in them. “There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that certain prints aren’t right for you, but if they make you feel good, you should absolutely go for it." Welcome to the jungle.


Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Alexander McCalla