Your Complete Guide to Wearing Animal Print, Metallics, Patterns & Colors
The clothes you wear can send a message about who you are as a person. And these days, you have many new palettes and prints to work into your wardrobe.
If you style animal prints right, they have the power to make any outfit look daring and sophisticated. You can brighten up any ensemble with fun, flirty or casual metallic shades. Showcase your personality by knowing how and when to wear patterns and prints without clashing. And knowing what colors say about you will help you pick just the right looks.
Now is a great time to explore the many possibilities to energize your closet and make the most of your signature style. You’ll find all the info you need right here, so let’s get you started!
Leopard, cheetah, zebra, tiger, crocodile, snake – the list goes on! And yet, dressing in animal prints is not always that simple. Still, this timeless look packs a lot of potential. Here are three tips on how to look chic when wearing wild prints:
1. Keep it simple
Simplicity is a key element for styling any outfit, but it is especially important when you’re rocking those animal prints. In order to look attractive in a special print, you must consider everything from the shoes to the accessories and to the jacket. Slip on your best pair of skinny jeans, a solid-colored blouse and a safari inspired boyfriend blazer. Since you’re only sporting one printed garment, feel free to add a pop of color with a neon clutch handbag. This is the perfect outfit for a casual day at the office or for a daytime date. Avoid wearing animal print on your feet if you’re already wearing it on your body. Stick to solid-colored shoes. Or . . .
Another way to incorporate this pattern into your ensemble is to slip on a pair of animal-printed kicks. Day or night, leopard heels are a great option. However, these might be a little too fashion-forward for the office, depending on where you work. So opt for a pair of printed pointy toe flats for the workplace, and save the heels for a date night. While these shoes may look simple, they are a great way to dress up workwear basics like your black slacks and white blouses. The shoes make it easy for you to take your look from the office to the bar for happy hour with your coworkers.
2. Treat the print as a neutral
The intensity of animal print can be a little daunting, but if you treat this pattern as a neutral, you’re golden. As long as the tones complement each other, the sky is the limit! Don’t be afraid to wear your favorite emerald snake skin blouse with a pair of chartreuse skinny dress pants. The metallic texture of the blouse exudes a feminine look and the pants tie in a bit of elegance, making this outfit great for both day and night.
3. Create a balance
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to wear head-to-toe animal print, there are a few things you should consider before stepping out the door. By all means, feel free to mix these prints with more graphic and geometric patterns like polka dots, stripes or plaids. For a balanced look, keep the color scheme simple, accessories to a minimum and layer with neutral-colored garments. Additionally, both prints should be proportionate to one another. There are different variations in size and design among all prints. For instance, tiger print is typically large while zebra patterns are usually thin and diagonal. With this in mind, it’s important to create a balance when wearing print on print. By this, we mean one print should dominate the other, for contrast.
Printed dresses account for this tip too, seeing as a leopard print dress can be too intense if it’s not styled right. The key here is breaking up your outfit with neutral accessories, such as all black leather items like a jacket, shoes and a cross body handbag.
From cute tops to sophisticated dresses, here are three ways to shine in metallics:
1. Wear them with neutrals
If you’re new to this trend, start simple by pairing metallic garments with neutrals. This will help balance out the intensity of the metallic piece, exuding both a chic and polished look. Another way to begin small and work your way up to this eye-catching trend is to start with a pair of metallic shoes, keeping the rest of your outfit simple.
For a date night, slip on one of your hi-low skirts, a solid-colored blouse and knee-high gladiator sandals, and you’re ready to roll. For a more casual look, team the Faux Leather Metallic Jacket with a pair of white skinny jeans and a black top – it’s effortless and the perfect getup for waking around town. Just remember: Always use neutral tones to balance out the brightness of the metallic piece.
You can also pair shiny metallics with their neutral, matte counterpart. For a simple yet gorgeous look, pair a silver maxi skirt with a fitted gray blouse. To complete this outfit, throw on tailored gray blazer.
For a balanced yet fabulous look, pair metallic fabrics with neutral garments.
2. Less is more
The metallic trend is eccentric and fun to style, but it is important not to get lost in it. To avoid looking like a disco ball, keep it low-key. Just purchase a couple of simple and modest pieces that flatter your figure and can be worn many different outfits. Begin styling your outfit by choosing one metallic piece – be it a blouse, pants, jacket, or dress – and keep the rest of your ensemble to a minimum. Even if you’re feeling adventurous, we recommend not decking yourself out in head-to-toe metallic. Instead, tie in a solid-colored garment to complement your metallic piece. Your ensemble will still radiate an edgy vibe, but the matte color from your second article of clothing will provide balance for a more subtle look.
3. A hint of glint
Metallic accessories are a great way to to add a little shine to your casual outfit. Dress up your ensemble with a shimmery fashion scarf, clutch, shoes or belt. Even the slightest addition of this color will instantly make your look pop. This is a great way to dip your toe into the trend before fully committing to this edgy style.
If you’re already wearing a metallic garment, steer clear of accessories all together. Remember: Less is more. The shiny clothing piece is already the focus of your outfit, so don’t divert the attention away from this fabulous fabric. If you do, no one will know where to look, so let the metallic piece do the talking.
Prints & Patterns
Incorporating prints & patterns into your ensembles can add a lot of fun to your outfit when done correctly.
It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of features like bold floral and animal prints, but throwing every pattern in your closet into one outfit can create a clashing style. Certain patterns have their own characteristics, and knowing how and when to wear each print will showcase your personality in your wardrobe.
Bold floral prints allow you to effortlessly coordinate natural beauty into your outfit. Capture the soft, organic feel of this print by looking for pieces that reflect watercolor brush strokes in light hues of red, blue and green. The delicate pastel colors provide a more graceful feature to the ensemble, so consider selecting ultra-feminine pieces like skirts and dresses for this pattern type.
However, floral patterns don’t have to be dainty. Go bold with brighter colors and a more defined floral print. Darker shades allow your outfit to make a more intense impression, and with the variety of flower hues, it’s easy to select accessories that coordinate. Select a chunky necklace, pronounced ring or bold-colored jacket that picks up on tones found in the floral print.
Nothing quite says summer like sipping on a fruity drink on the sandy shores of a beach. Capture this relaxed, fun vibe in a tropical print outfit. Integrate this style into bottoms or a top, and the vibrant seasonal colors will put you and everyone else in the right mindset for summer.
Satu Maaranen, freelance fashion and print designer at Marimekko, explains that stripes can be viewed as a neutral in the pattern world. Just as you could wear any hue with neutral colors such as black, white, gray and nude, you can pair any pattern or texture with the versatility of stripes. For example, a striped top will coordinate just as well with a textured leather jacket as it would with a multi-colored cardigan. Consider stripes as a staple in your wardrobe so you can mix and match different prints. Additionally, parallel lines draw the eye in the direction they flow, so you can use vertical or horizontal stripes to lengthen your body, making you look tall and thin.
So, what do your color picks say about you? Let’s find out!
In general, bright colors are attention-grabbing and full of energy. They might show that you don’t mind being looked at and are confident in yourself. Of course, individual colors have other, unique spins:
This vibrant pink shade is often associated with balance, as it brings together boldness and femininity. It’s also seen as a color of unconditional love and sends the message that you’re an open and caring person. Fuchsia also lets other people know the wearer is passionate but capable of quiet thought.
Variations of vibrant blue are linked with positivity, calmness, loyalty and peace, all traits that work well together. A study conducted by Career Builder found that employers recommend people wear blue to an interview to show you’re a team player with an upbeat attitude and level head. The color of water and the sky, blue shows you’re content and intelligent. People may come to you for help or advice because this shade also indicates that you’re trustworthy.
Sunny, energetic and vibrant, yellow shows the world you’re happy. It’s the quintessential summer shade and perfect for your warm-weather wardrobe. In addition to showing your lively spirit, yellow tells others that you’re confident and bold and handle attention well. It also means you’re willing to take risks and are courageous.
Neutrals are staple colors during all seasons. They pair well with all of the bright tones you’ll wear and give your look a little grounding.
Variations of brown, including tan, show that you’re down to earth. You have a strong sense of self and are emotionally stable. People also link tan to dependability, trustworthiness and honesty.
Pure, clean and simple, white is a foundational color for every wardrobe. In the summer, it’ll bring light to your ensembles. When you don this color, you’re showing that you’re balanced and courageous. The color can also make you feel like you’re starting the day with a clean slate, as it’s often associated with new beginnings.
Black is timeless and associated with elegance, grace and simplicity. Wearing the shade shows you’re powerful and in control of yourself and the situations you’re in. Black can appear mysterious but also frame you as a leader.
Colors carry with them powerful messages. The ones you gravitate toward might shed some light on your personality traits, but you can also use them to tell others about yourself. For help selecting summer shades, check out our color wheel guide.
There you are! Now you are fully equipped to enliven your wardrobe and your personal style with animal prints, metallics, patterns, prints and color—all in stylish, attention-getting ways.