What takes leopard print from trashy to classy? Well, there are a few deciding factors. For me, leopard prints that look too two-dimensional, are in neon colours or are stamped onto the wrong garment all contribute to tackiness. However, that being said, those things aren’t always a bad thing. So, when it comes to trashy vs. classy leopard print, where do we begin?
It’s pretty obvious what sort of items have come to be known as timeless wardrobe staples. That basic white tee? Everyone needs one. A wrap around trench? Always a classic. But that off-the-shoulder crop top? Not so much. The same principles apply to leopard prints. After all, leopard varies in colour, size, and the shapes of the spots. All of those details help contribute to making it a trashy or classy leopard print.
I’ve chosen five of my favourite ways to wear leopard—one example in a classy look and one in a more cringe-worthy attempt. So, let’s get down to business!
Trashy vs. Classy Leopard Print: What Makes the Difference?
CLASSY: Leopard print pumps
These shoes will never go out of style. How do I know this? Because this style of shoe has been worn by every fashionable person, in every fashionable place, in any fashionable situation. That’s how I know. This type of shoe can effortlessly take you from the office to post-work cocktails. Plus, the pop of leopard print will add a fashion-forward edge to your look.
TRASHY: Studded platform wedges
There isn’t much to say about these—except that I wouldn’t be caught dead in them. Even in death I would have a complete shame attack if I was seen wearing them. (Sorry not sorry if you happen to love them.) I don’t like wedges at the best of times, but there’s just something extra sickening about the cork, leopard and studs all together that makes me cringe.
CLASSY: A simple leopard blouse
I know I mentioned off-the-shoulder tops above as something to be weary of in terms of timelessness. However, in the form of a blouse I think they’re more prone to being a classic. I paired mine here with a simple, black leather skirt and strappy sandals to keep the focus on my leopard top. There’s nothing overboard about this look and the clean palette helps to show off the leopard.
TRASHY: A leopard top with too much going on
Leopard print is something that’s best worn in the simplest way possible. Once you start adding text, colours, graphics and all that jazz, it tends to get a bit messy. After all, leopard print is eye-catching enough on its own. You don’t need all these other details to spice it up. Trust me, it’s spicy enough as it is.
CLASSY: Leopard print paired with bright hues
If you’re a colour lover, don’t worry. Leopard print can still look incredibly handsome paired with something other than black—which, is usually my guilty go-to. For example, this bright blue dress needed a little something extra. So, I added my trusty leopard print clutch to give it a hint of my signature print.
TRASHY: Leopard print in a rainbow of hues
Yikes. Where do I begin with this one? Well, for starters, the style of the dress isn’t all that timelessly classy. If it were in black like Posh Spice’s little Gucci dress, then for sure, it would be. But all these colours? No way José. I can tolerate coloured leopard print in activewear—but anywhere other than the gym, I’ll pass. Thanks.
CLASSY: A leopard print calf hair clutch
I’m obsessed with leopard printed calf hair. I have mules, heels, purses, belts, clutches—you name it—and love them all. Leopard print clutches are a completely timeless addition to your wardrobe. They can be carried with an over-the-top look (like Olivia Palermo, above) or they can be used to jazz up a laid-back look like jeans and a t-shirt. Either way, this accessory screams class.
TRASHY: Actual leopard print hair
You guys know I’m pretty much the biggest leopard lover ever. Right? Yet, not even I would go this far. Maybe for Halloween! I have a pair of leopard print feather eyelashes that I’ve been saving to wear one day. They could be the perfect pairing for this hair if I went as a crazy leopard lady or something. But catch me like this on a regular day of the year? Definitely, never.
CLASSY: A statement leopard coat
Whenever I got to events, I always wear something leopard. (That’s actually how a lot of people from social media recognize me! Just look for the classy leopard print.) And one of my favourite things about the chillier months is whipping out my leopard print coats. Since I love to dress in head-to-toe black a lot of the time, a statement leopard coat works wonders for making my outfit pop in a crowd. Proof that leopard coats are timeless: I have a leopard trimmed coat from 1964 that I bought at a vintage market.
TRASHY: Statement leopard everything
There are definitely ways to wear head-to-toe leopard print. (See this photo of Bella Hadid.) But, sorry Nicki Minaj, this isn’t it. I like to wear my statement leopard pieces one—maybe two—at a time, maximum. This whole look is so cringe-worthy that it’s a statement in its own right. However, that’s not the kind of statement I’d want to be making.
For more classy leopard print looks, check out these pieces that you need to pick up for fall.