Simone Ashley wearing a leopard print dress
Photography by Getty Images

For the Love of Leopard Print

We should all embrace the once-maligned animal motif. Here's how to wear it this summer.

It’s never fun to admit you’ve fallen victim to the trend cycle. Any person who cares about clothes knows that a good sense of style comes from within, and shouldn’t be wavered by the outside noise of TikTok FYPs and Instagram #OOTDs. But in the name of journalistic integrity, I stand before you today to confess that this is exactly what happened to me with leopard print.

 

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A few years ago, I had a great pair of leopard print pants from Zara. I wore them all the time, tickled by their benign kitschiness and enthused by the thrill of channelling a ‘90s It girl. But once minimalism began to take hold of the zeitgeist, I turned against my once-beloved jeans and stashed them in a donation bag.

Leopard print was o-v-e-r, I thought, convincing myself that my newfound disdain for the pattern was of my own volition. Now, I feel quite silly about my hasty dismissal. The 2024 runways were rife with the animal motif, and everywhere I look, it’s endorsed by fashion tastemakers.

Jacquemus s24 leopard print
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF LAUNCHMETRICS.COM/SPOTLIGHT

Lily-Rose Depp, Lupita Nyong’o, Simone Ashley, Alexa Chung and Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon have all co-signed the style choice in recent months. Seeing it widely re-emerge, I realize error of my fad-following ways. (I’m a sheep!)

Lupita Nyong'o wearing a leopard print dress
Photography by Getty Images

The thing is, leopard print — with its built-in risk-taking, confident statement-making and undeniable sass — has always been chic.

How to wear leopard print now

Forgive the terrible pun, but go wild! If you’re not sure how to style a pattern so busy and outré, I suggest diving in head first with a bold leopard print dress. Accessorize with a pair of strappy sandals, chic gold earrings and a classic slicked-back bun, and you’ve put a refined spin on the maximalist moment.

Not ready to go all out? Start with one statement piece you love — say, a leopard print skirt — and build out an outfit from there. Whether you opt to go minimal with a white tank top and flat sandals or layer on other busy patterns for some clashing coolness, leopard print can fit into any aesthetic.

leopard print street style
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF LAUNCHMETRICS.COM/SPOTLIGHT

Of course, if you’re looking to micro-dose the animal print, you can seamlessly infuse some sass into your outfit with the right accessorizing choices. Leopard print shoes, scrunchies or chunky hoops can ease you into the wild side without going on a full-on safari.

But most of all, as you enter your leopard print era, learn from my mistakes. Never throw out something you love because it’s not “on-trend”. It will always come back, and you’ll wish you’d have held on.

The best leopard print piece to shop now

Ba&sh Fanika dress

Go big and bold with a leopard print dress. This flowy design by Ba&sh falls between midi and maxi lengths for the perfect summer statement. Featuring mid-length sleeves and a gorgeous back cut-out, it is a built-in statement piece. Pair it with minimal accessories, and you’ve got a chic cocktail hour ensemble.

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Ganni leopard poplin blouse

leopard print ganni blouse

Step into your Scandi era with this A+ leopard print shirt. Ganni’s beloved peplum tie-up bow blouse takes new form with the animal print. Made from organic cotton, it offers a relaxed fit that would look ultra-chic with jean shorts and sneakers.

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Kitsch satin leopard print scrunchie

kitsch scrunchie leopard print

When in doubt, turn to a hair accessory. This patterned satin scrunchie gives a subtle nod to the trend without getting too committed. Plus, with its soft-to-the-touch frayed linen material, it saves your hair from breakage and promises a frizz-free day.

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Reformation Gale satin pant

reformation leopard print pants

Invest in some great leopard print trousers, and you’ll know a new kind of stylistic excitement. This Reformation pair can be office-wear appropriate with a structured blazer or going-out ready with a cheeky baby tee. High-waisted with a relaxed fit, it emits in-the-know retro coolness.

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8 Other Reasons Wild Pia bag

leopard print bag 8 other reasons

Introducing: The ultimate outfit accent. This asymmetrical shoulder bag by 8 Other Reasons instantly infuses some personality into a monochrome outfit or dresses up a basic tee and shorts. Featuring a leather exterior with gold-plated hardware, it’s both evening-wear dressy and perfect for daytime summer outings.

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Asos Design leopard print satin mini dress

asos leopard print

Nothing says fun like a leopard print mini-dress. This design by Asos is a summertime staple you’ll want to repeatedly reach for. Complete with a soft satin feel and a vintage-looking faded wash, it’s the perfect piece to slip on when you’re headed out for dinner on a balmy night.

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Jeffrey Campbell Aurora flats

leopard print flats jeffrey campbell

A playful way to continue riffing on fashion’s fascination with balletcore: Leopard print flats. Jeffrey Campbell’s offering features a round-toe silhouette, satin uppers and dainty bow detailing. Bonus style points are earned when paired with a statement anklet.

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Alden polarized sunglasses

alden sunglasses leopard print

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Sunglasses are the ultimate outfit finishing touch. If you’re curious about animal print, I suggest going about it via speckled eyewear. These square specs have rounded edges and an oversized fit for a bold sunny day look.

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Etsy hoop leopard print earrings

etsy leopard print earrings

If you’re limiting your accessories to just silver or gold, you’re seriously missing out. Bold, colourful earrings are an easy way to elevate an outfit, and these dark leopard print hoops are the perfect example. Handmade to order on Etsy, they are both on-trend and timeless, thanks to their gold accents and chunky shape.

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Lioness Enigmatic maxi skirt

lioness leopard print skirt

‘Tis the season to wear maxi skirts as much as you possibly can. Whether you’re buying flowers at the farmer’s market or eating gelato on a patio, the garment is synonymous with splendid summertime living.

Lioness’s leopard print iteration is lined with lace-trim for a delicate finish and made of a satin fabric for a breathable wear. Style it with a crisp white tee or pair it with the matching cami for a full-on leopard print co-ord.

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Urban Renewal remnants cheetah print halter top

leopard print urban renewal top

Do animal print differently with this black and white tank top. Featuring romantic lace trim and a cropped fit, it would pair perfectly with baggy Bermuda shorts and statement cat-eye sunnies. Fun fact: This top was created using deadstock and discarded fabrics, making it a cute and sustainable pick.

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