Monday, May 10, 2010

It's a jungle out there


cheetah print shirt (Saks)
jeans (JC Penney's)
red shoes (DSW)

Earlier Drafts:
I wore these shoes with my Burberry scarf. 

When I was 15, I redecorated my room.  The room had dark pink carpeting, light pink walls, and a floral motif -- I had a floral comforter, a floral border on the walls, and I think even a flowered window treatment.  It was my 6 year old fantasy and my 15 year old nightmare.  We painted the walls off-white and got rid of the border, but my parents vetoed, for obvious reasons, an expensive carpet change.  Pink remained the main color palate of the room, but I wanted to edge it up a bit.  So we replaced the floral prints with zebra print.  I got a zebra window treatment, zebra sheets (paired with a solid dark pink comforter), a zebra rug, and zebra throw pillows.  The overall effect -- it still sits now in my parents' house -- is very me: feminine, but with a kick.

I relate this anecdote because 1) it displays my love of animal prints (when used appropriately) and 2) I think the principles of the decorating scheme matches the way I view animal print clothing.

Animal print can be tricky.  Worn in certain forms - say, particularly revealing clothing or an overload of the print - I think that it can veer into certain cultural stereotypes of trashiness.  To avoid that, my approach to animal prints has been to either use them as accents or to use them to spice up more conservative styles.  This top, for example, is an example of the latter.  The shirt's shape is pretty conservative, but the cheetah makes it interesting.  The top is also versatile.  I can wear it with a pencil skirt and heels or, as I do here, with jeans.  I haven't had the courage yet to wear a full animal print dress, but if I did, I would get a classic silhouette.

As in the example of my room, where the zebra is paired with a bold color, I wore this top with red shoes.  The neutral colors in the print make it scream for a bit of color (thought it might just be saying that to me), and I think the shoes put a nice exclamation mark on the outfit.

  • How do you use animal prints?
  • Are there any types, styles, colors of clothing that you avoid because of their cultural connotation?


She Spys said...

I love wearing animal print as an accent ex: shoes, headbands, maybe a scarf... I recently got a brown and black zebra cardi which I have been using lots but, the cultural stigma attached to a full animal print dress or shirt is hard to mentally contend with.

Anonymous said...

I have a deep love for animal print. I mostly wear it in my shoes. And I have an awesome dress that is leopard print, but reserved for date nights. I got it on a super sale. :)

Dorky Medievalist said...

I recently found your blog and I enjoy very much the approach the three of you have taken to your posts. I love animal print but definitely in small doses. I have leopard print flats that I wear to spice up all black ensembles often. And I have a leopard print umbrella that I haven't left on a bus yet.

Your shirt is more animal print than I have ever worn but I agree with your approach re: the conservative silhouette. It looks great. And the red shoes are a nice touch!

Scholar Style Guide said...

Katie, I think you make some great points about animal print! I feel most comfortable using it as an accent but I think you make a good point about 'conservative' styles also working with animal print without seeming too costume-y.

I generally think of zebra print as more "tasteful" than cheetah/leopard. Am I alone in this or do others agree? Maybe it's because I've seen too many garish polyester leopard items, or maybe I just prefer the simple black/white palette of zebra.

To answer your second question: yes. But too much to say to begin to unpack it here. Haha! : )


Scholar Style Guide said...

Katie! Until today I hadn't recognized our gestures at animal print, but we've each broached the subject:

Liz's favorite top:

My patterned dress:

Liz, I typically consider zebra print more "tasteful," too, but I think I'm attracted to it for the lines. The zebra markings seem to flatter the body better than cheetah print in a sort of stripes vs. polka dots way.

I echo the rest of you: I most often use animal print as an accent. Though Katie's top is convincing me otherwise. :)

I also have an awkward cheetah print laptop bag I've been unsuccessfully trying to phase out of my wardrobe...