Today we are tackling how to wear animal prints and more specifically the highly divisive question of: are animal prints a neutral?
Once upon a time, a friend sent me a screenshot that read “…with your style, consider incorporating alternative neutrals. There are browns, burgundy, greens, creams, blushes and camels that can be worn as neutrals too. Also, there’s agreement amongst fashion people that leopard prints are most definitely, always a neutral.” And added “I have decided this is true, whether it’s true or not.” Emphasis hers.
My response was “Well they’re neutral until they’re neon. Neutral colored prints are still neutral colors even if the prints are loud.”
Which is really the short of it. But let’s dig deeper.
Are animal prints neutrals? And how do you wear them?
Many animal prints are indeed neutrals because they are printed in neutral colors – browns, beiges, tans, blacks, whites, etc.
If you think of a naturalistic leopard or cheetah print it’s going to be a neutral color. Because real life leopards and cheetahs are generally neutral colors.
But just because many animal prints are printed using realistic, neutral color pallets, it doesn’t mean they all are.
We’ve all seen neon pink leopard print suits that no one would ever consider to be a neutral.
Neutral refers to the color, animal refers to the print. Just like you can wear neutral stripes or bright stripes or pastel stripes or any other color pallet of stripe. And you can wear neutral polka dots or bright polka dots or pastel polka dots or any other color pallet of polka dots. You can wear neutral animal prints or bright animal prints or pastel animal prints or any other color pallet of animal prints.
Animal prints are neutral until they are neon (or some other not neutral color).
How do you wear a neutral animal print?
Wearing a neutral animal print is similar to wearing any other neutral color print.
If you’re someone comfortable wearing prints and animal prints: Step it up! Play around with allover animal prints and garments that really draw attention and showcase the print.
Try high color contrast like a black and white zebra print or a bordering on Tony the Tiger cartoonish tiger print.
Or try mixing prints – some people love it, some people loathe it – see if it’s for you.
If you’re someone who is not already comfortable wearing animal prints: Start with more conventional animal prints in smaller quantities in more conservative garments with lower color contrasts. Trims, linings, accessories, flats, etc are excellent for this.
Keep an eye out for animal prints with lower color contrasts. For example, try leopard print in soft greys instead of a black and white zebra print. Or a light brown on cream or a medium brown on tan jaguar print instead of black on beige.
How do you wear a non-neutral animal print?
To wear a non-neutral (maybe even neon) animal print, make it the star of the show. Whatever you wear it with, the non-neutral animal print is going to fight for center stage (and probably win). So embrace it.
This could mean going bright and loud with an allover print in high contrasting colors. Or keeping your overall outfit (relatively) muted then adding a splash of animal print with a pop of color.
To sum up: put it on your body and wear it
Regardless of how you wear your animal print – whether you like neon or neutral, allover or touches – once you learn how to wear animal prints (in a way that works for you!) they can be a lot of fun.
So try your hand at it. And if you want help, or realize you have A LOT of (no-so-helpful) inner voices telling you, “you can’t wear that” or “that’s too garish”, reach out for coaching.
For another neutral clothing myth busting read: Is a colorful, high-vibe capsule wardrobe possible? (Spoilers: yes it is possible.)
And for another how to wear read: How to style a bodycon dress when you’re concerned about your belly pooch