Give me an animal print and I’m happy. If there’s one trend that I’ve been obsessed with forever, it would be a leopard or cheetah inspired print that I’ll wear in fashion, shoes, handbags, hats … just about everything … just not all at once. And I’m not the only one. I shouldn’t even call it a trend anymore, it’s a classic that will stand the test of time. Designers from Tom Ford to Dolce & Gabbana to Yves Saint Laurent have dipped into it for years and that will never stop. Here’s a little story of my obsession: 

Photo by Phillip Chin, January 2017

I bought this faux fur topper from Zara almost 20 years ago. I had just arrived in Toronto and was shopping with friends when one of them spied it stuffed under a pile of jeans on a sale table. I pounced the second she hesitated (I hardly knew her, ok?!) and dashed to the cash register. At $70, I knew it was a keeper. 

Photo by Phillip Chin, 2017

All these years later, I still wear my old favourite. I put it away for a few years and now it’s back in heavy rotation with a Celine handbag, Chloe boots and another Zara favourite, a black lace skirt. 

Selfie, January, 2017

I’m wearing it a lot of different ways now. The other day, I paired it with a turtleneck and my new sequinned appliqué jeans from Anthropologie, worn with a Valentino cross-body bag and Prada boots. Oh … a new Kate Spade leopard print phone case too! I only ever stick to one leopard pattern but the phone case doesn’t count.

Photo by Norman Wong, 2012

Here it is five years ago, worn with simple black trousers and heels. It’s my all-time favourite shot by Norman Wong, from 2012.

The unexpected moss green leather skirt worn by rising star, Ruth Negga, is a perfect way to wear animal patterns now. Black would be the obvious choice, but green or rust or teal blue is fabulous.

Photo by George Pimentel

And here I am in 2010 in a favourite old pair of animal patterned YSL heels that elevated a simple black outfit. I love the red spots in Tommy Ton’s sweater. 

From British Vogue, February 1995

I just spotted this classic Stephen Jones hat from the February 1995 issue of British Vogue. It’s featured in the latest issue, February 2017, in a story called “Talking Heads” – 22 years later, it looks just as wearable. 

A Tom Ford Eyewear campaign, Fall 2013

And here it is again – lots of animal patterns in a super chic advertising campaign. There are a million examples, and will continue to be for years to come.

Photo by Phillip Chin, 2017

I know that I’ll continue to wear my leopard print topper for years to come. These are the style tips that I’m using for now … and no doubt they’ll change as I keep updating it to go with my wardrobe.

NOW 1) only wear one animal pattern at a time. 2) Pair it with unexpected stripes or patterns (that’s next for me). 3) Try it with different colours, not just black (see Ruth’s example above).