How to Wear Leopard as a Classic Style Woman

How to wear leopard with your classic style wardrobe

I'm bringing leopard back

I gave up leopard three years ago because I was told it didn’t go with the bold hues in my wardrobe, and it’s true that SOME leopard prints don’t. But I’ve had leopard envy every since. I’ve missed it. A lot. It’s a very classic print, and it’s considered a neutral by many. It can also be tricky for a Classic Style Woman because of the colors and how busy the pattern can be. I decided there IS a place for leopard in MY wardrobe, and I went on the hunt until I figured out what is perfect for me!

the right leopard print

The problem with leopard is that it is typically variations of brown and very warm, which may not play nicely with bold hues (although if you read this post you know I recently bought some brown boots and I LOVE them). There are leopard prints that are are bold colors, like cobalt, with a black leopard print, or white leopard, and those definitely work. But that wasn’t the leopard I was missing. I wanted neutral leopard. Real leopard. Real leopards aren’t blue. Not all leopard prints are right for me, but I finally figured out what makes a leopard print work in my wardrobe.

The leopard print that is going to work with your classic wardrobe is going to be BLACK instead of brown. The base tan color needs to be cool instead of warm, and as close to your own skin tone as possible. For some of you, finding one that is two dimensional (only two colors) will be key, and for others, 3 colors will be fine. To really nail it, find one with black leather trim and it will match perfectly with your black bag!

how to wear leopard

The next potential problem with leopard is it’s busy, and as classics we tend to be drawn to neutrals, solids, stripes, plaid (which is still stripes, according to my husband), and occasionally other patterns in small doses according to our Classic Style Types. And for me that means I want to wear leopard in small doses, which would be accessories. Shoes, belts, and bags are where I feel most comfortable with a pattern like this.

I don’t know how I would feel about having that tan color up by my face with a scarf, and a shirt or pants would be way too much pattern for me. I’ve looked at a skirt or two, but even that feels like a lot to me. It might be perfect for you, though! We are all different in our preferences, so listen to what feels right for you. I most prefer to wear it with a predominantly neutral outfit, but I particularly like it with red.

I found my leopard flats on Poshmark, and I’ve been wearing them constantly. I. LOVE. THEM. They are black with a cool, light tan background, 2-dimensional pattern, mostly solid, and black leather. I wish these were still available in stores, but there are some available on Poshmark and Ebay. (The Lex-2 DV by Dolce Vita)

which classic style types should wear leopard

That’s a tricky question. I mean, on the one hand it’s pretty much a classic standard. Jackie Kennedy wore a full on leopard coat, which makes it pure Classic. But then again, so did Peg Bundy, so there’s that. It could be considered more Edgy Classic because leopards eat people, but Cute Classics like to play with other styles, and depending on the pattern it can resemble polka dots, so they may also enjoy it. Sporty classics might like it because it speaks to their inner hunter/outdoorswoman. Even Soft Classics may like it because the edges of the pattern are soft, and the pattern tends to be smaller scale. Which brings me back to the original theory that leopard is a purely classic pattern that all classics can enjoy, and the shape and details will make it more appropriate for one type or another. (Did that logic remind anyone else of Vizzini’s dizzying intellect in The Princess Bride?)

Remember that leopard may not be for you, and even though I found what works for me, it doesn’t mean you have to like it. This article may also be the permission slip you’ve been waiting for! Decide for yourself whether leopard has a home in your wardrobe.

where can i get some classic leopard

I found a few for you to check out. I wish mine were still available, but here are some others to try. If you aren’t sure if leopard print is right for you, look for something less expensive on Poshmark, Ebay, Tradsey, Mercari, ThredUp, etc. That’s what I do when I want to try out something I’m unsure of before I invest in something more expensive.

I chose varying shades of tan because we all have different skin tones. Mine are really light because I am. If you have a darker complexion, you will want something closer to your skin tone. Disclaimer: I did the best I could from online pictures. They may look different when they arrive.

21 thoughts on “How to Wear Leopard as a Classic Style Woman”

  1. Leopard! You are my hero, I have so been missing it and it is huge this fall. I’m seeing it everywhere. I don’t want it near my face but accessories….bring it on! Belts, shoes, bags maybe even 2 or all 3 at the same time. I’m not a fan of the faux colored animal prints either but a nice tan one I consider a neutral also. Plus it looks so good with our bold colors!

  2. I’m so happy to see a fellow stunning woman analyze how to still enjoy leopard. I haven’t stopped envying this classic "neutral" pattern in fashion since making my wardrobe more bold, especially in shoes!

    1. Rachel, thank you! I wanted it so badly I was determined to figure it out for myself, and when I was loving it so much I thought I’d share in case I wasn’t alone in my leopard lust.

  3. Just what I needed! Thank you, April. I have leopard flats that I love. I see them as a neutral, and wear them all.the.time. I just got a beautiful silk South African leopard scarf, but I am still not sure about having the print so close to my face. Time will tell.

  4. Joanne, I was determined to find the right one for me, and I love it! I’m glad it’s helpful to you too. I would definitely do shoes and belt if I could find a belt that matched my shoes. I’m probably happier to wear the shoes with my black bag since they wouldn’t be a perfect match. One of my favorite purses EVER was leopard calf hair. I finally got rid of it when it rubbed off too much.

  5. Love this!
    I have a black leather tote with a blk/white leopard calf hair panel (a rare find) that I absolutely love.
    Also, some pumps called “Dalmatian” – though are tan/dk brown and really more of the dotty leopard variety (in case that helps the CuteClassics search).
    I’m happy I held on to my traditional leopard Chelsea boots- far from my face they make me happy worn with red (and sometimes purple).
    Thanks for sharing great content!

  6. I couldn’t find leopard???? but….
    I found giraffe! ????
    Textured material, block heel, pointy toe and way too nice for work, but in my favourite work heel last.

    Then there is my black pleather jacket has shiny silver leather lining.
    A pair of patent Mary Jane kitten heels with leopard body
    I just need some more wider leg pants for winter to wear with these (I wear all black and you really only see the toe of the shoe as the heel is black patent.
    My leopard scarf courtesy of my sister…again I wear it with black and dark denim and a red lip.

    1. I love leopard, but haven’t worn it in years. I’ve given it in silk scarves and wreaths to my sisters, who adored them.

      My love started in the early sixties when my older sister made my mother a bucket hat and clutch from faux leopard fur. They were so beautiful! When I was 17, I went to the fabric store and bought leopard fabric and black, short, brush fringe. I shoved two twin beds together, and made a bedspread out of that fabric. I added two low-slung, red leather chairs to my room, and created quite the lair! It was absolute over kill, but my mother was great about letting me redecorate my bedroom regularly.

      I am new to your group, and I’m absolutely excited to get back to being me. I retired two years ago, and have just become a shlump. I broke my knees a couple of years before I retired, so stopped wearing stylish outfits, because they didn’t go with the flat black sneakers I had to wear to be able to walk. You have given me a new lease on life! I’m going to add a little leopard to that life! Thank you, April!

      1. Peggy, I wish I had your lair! That sounds amazing! And it sounds like leopard is truly you. I’m excited for you to get it back! I have a pair of black sneakers I LOVE.

  7. Didn’t realize how much I loved leopard for me until I ventured out and bought the blouse from the fall Guide. Thanks to you April, I am going to expand my accessories to include leopard and maybe try a similar skirt!! Vince Camuto has a pencil skirt this fall 😊

    1. Mine are Tory Burch. I hunted and hunted until I found the ones that coordinated in styles that suited me. Look for a brand that does bags and shoes if you want to coordinate as closely as possible with less guess work.

  8. I am a Type 2 woman , a Soft Classic, and I adore leopard print. There’s a picture of me as a little girl in full leopard print outfit(it was the 90s) underneath a green palm and it was my favorite shirt/slacks. I still love it but I find that I look best in Snow Leopard print, or clouded leopard. When I find these kinds with their more muted grey and charcoal colors, it is perfect! I have a scarf and also a handbag that I just love in snow -leopard print.

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