Before I begin, I would like to set the record straight on one issue: I do NOT like leopard print shoes. No, I don’t think they’re tacky. I’m just one of those people who think they belong solely at a strip club and take offence when I see everyday women wearing them on the streets. However, I am locking my bias up in a steel cage so I can write this piece like the true, self-declared fashion critic I am (•ˆ⌣ˆ•) Okay. Now that that’s cleared, let’s proceed.
Leopard print, like many other trends has been around for a WHILE, and is now having another shot at the limelight. Almost everywhere you turn, there are dresses, bags, shoes, jackets, and pants in leopard print (don’t you just love how people can’t resist jumping on bandwagons?). And just as there are those who can successfully pull off some sort of leopard print incorporation in their outfits, there are those who just show blatant disregard for the fashion world and overdo it.
While small touches of leopard print can give your overall look a huge boost, it’s important to stay within the boundaries of sensibility. To further emphasise my point I’m going to completely ignore those who want to know how to dress from in animal print from top to bottom, and just skip ahead to how to gently introduce leopard print into your wardrobe. Today, shoes. Mostly because you can find stuff already in your wardrobe to wear with a nice pair of leopard print heels or flats, but also because they’re a great way to give whatever outfit you have on some personality.
As you might have already guessed (or had to figure out the hard way), finding the right outfit to pair with leopard prints can be a tricky task. But the wonderful thing is once you find that perfect combo, it’s difficult to beat.
I’ll start off slow with the easiest, most basic combo you could try. Yeah, you guessed it! (Or not) Black dresses, pants, and skirts are almost always a perfect match for leopard print shoes. A lot of people already have the mentality that “black goes with everything” so, I wouldn’t be surprised if most already set aside their pair of leopard print shoes to wear solely with whatever black number they have. If you are one of these people, then you have realised this gets really boring really fast. You could try mixing it up by adding a LBD (little brown dress) into the loop. Of course if you’re going to wear a LBD with a hot pair of leopard print heels, your accessories have to be toned down to the bare minimum.
Now that leopard print has taken the leap from the pole to street wear, you could try a casual-smart look. Let’s say you have an interview, or you’re the type that just enjoys looking smart and yet approachable at the same time, you could pair your leopard print heels with sleek gray pants, and a light brown or grey cardigan over an ivory top. You could also try reversing the colours on the pieces, but remember that for this look to work, it’s important to keep it on a basic gray/brown combo. Or you could also experiment with other light neutral colours like sand, blush, and cream. These colours can stand their ground with animal print without overshadowing it.
And what’s more casual than denim? The easiest way to pair your leopard print flats, pumps, or booties, after black of course, is to wear them with a nice pair of jeans. For a classic, casual, and maybe carefree look, wear a white button-down shirt, or a long tank on your favorite pair of jeans and throw on a pair of leopard print ballerinas. The shoes. Not actual ballerinas.
Don’t wanna play it safe? Why not mix trends? Rather than constantly toning down your animal print with muted colours, try pairing it the bold floral prints and loud colours (which also happen to be trending right now). Go for this look by combining coloured jeans (preferably skinnies) and a floral blouse with your leopard print pumps. You could either tuck the blouse into your jeans, or just leave it be. Whichever way works. Or, for traffic-stopping hotness, why not pair a bright red dress and a wide black belt with your shoes? Not much of an attention seeker? The beauty of this style is you can use simply use red as an accent colour alongside yellow, orange, pink and chartreuse. The super adventurous ones can splurge on a pair of Louboutin leopard print pumps
A look that might be a bit trickier to try (especially in this corner of the globe) is wearing your leopard print heels with leather. If you’re feeling like a risk-taker, then try wearing a black blazer on black leather pants. To balance the look and keep eyes from focusing solely on your shoes, wear an equally eye-grabbing tank under your jacket. It could be sequined or gold patterned, or even leopard print.
Some might consider deep, earth tones like Khaki, olive green, brown and rust shades too dull, but they work perfectly when you want colours a neutral tone can’t offer, but you want it subtle. Plus, earth tones and mid-toned neutrals are great when paired with neutral-hued prints like cheetah and leopard. To create a unified look, try matching your outfit’s tone to your shoes. For example, natural, more realistic, cream based prints should go with warmer tones like rusts and browns, where as a black and white print would go with olive and gray.
Well, that’s basically all the tips I have to give. I’m sure there are other amazing combos you could come up with if you tried, so these are just guidelines. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is not to mix prints. It NEVER works. Trust me. You can be adventurous without looking painfully ridiculous.
The options for leopard print shoes are endless. Pumps, ballet flats, boots, and so much more. Just remember that this print is a statement on its own, so keep things toned down with minimised accessories.
Next time, I’ll probably give tips on wearing a leopard print jacket or pants or something. Haven’t decided yet. But until then, go on and be awesome in your gorgeous shoes.
Written by Coco Anetor-Sokei
Photo credits: Mamichulo