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There are two phrases that, if uttered in the same sentence, sound absolutely wrong. “Summer outfits” and “animal prints.” Styling animal prints is a delicate art—one that tends to work best during the calendar’s coldest months, when you can mellow out your animal print with a bunch of black layers. Summer animal print outfits, on the other hand, sound basically blasphemous. Animal prints are meant to be used sparingly, right? They’re supposed to be the pop of fun in an otherwise-neutral ensemble, right? They’d surely look incredibly tacky if paired with summer’s brightest, most saturated colors, right?!
But if my line of logic is sound, why are there so many animal print clothes on offer in some of our favorite retailers? Seriously, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Topshop and ASOS are all filled to the brim with animal prints. So are Lulus, Missguided, Nasty Gal and Forever 21. Not to mention, my Instagram feed is, too. And the last time I checked, it was still July—AKA, the middle of summer. Could it be? Could summer animal print outfits actually be happening?
As a fan of any sartorial challenge—no matter how daunting—I set out to master this perplexing trend once and for all: I decided to style five summer-friendly animal print outfits. And let me just say, I’ve only worn animal prints a few times before. I’ve long felt animal prints were best enjoyed in very small doses—a cheetah print scrunchie here, or a pair of snakeskin sandals there. I’ve never humored the idea of decking myself out in head-to-toe animal prints—mostly because I figured there was no way to do it without looking like I stepped fresh out of the Jersey Shore beach house, hand-in-hand with my BFF Snooki.
Did I emerge from this weeklong experience ready to sport all-over animal prints on the daily? No. I’m definitely skeptical of animal prints during the summer—and honestly, still a little wary of animal prints during any season. But I’m definitely more willing to get adventurous with them than I was before. And that’s at least some kind of win for Team Animal Print, right?
Summer is here, y’all. So tube tops and shorts are my jam for the next couple months. To start things off in the most low-key way possible, I opted for an animal print top that I could remove if I started feeling uncomfortable. I stuck with an all-black look (always a classic), threw on some fun accessories and topped things off with a lightweight snake print top. (Which—fun fact—I did not end up taking off.)
This, you guys, THIS was out of my comfort zone. As I headed out the door in these in-your-face cheetah print culottes, I nearly turned around and changed my pants. They were loud AF. To tone things down, I decided to keep the rest of my ensemble as neutral as possible—tan and black. One thing I’ve learned about styling cheetah prints? It’s easy to go overboard. Unleash your inner minimalist and lean into subtlety.
I have to say of all the animal print pieces I experimented with, these cheetah overalls were probably my favorite. My style is very fun and playful, so these were right up my alley. At this point, I was feeling a little more confident with animal print clothes, so a bright-colored top was the answer to styling these bottoms. I mean, hey, I have pink hair. Clearly, I’m not afraid of color—so I figured I might as well go all in, right?
Jumpsuits will forever be my go-to, so when I had the opportunity to try one out that was decked out in animal print, I jumped at the chance. Thanks to the neutral green tone, I didn’t feel very out of place in this jumpsuit—which was honestly pretty surprising, since it was head-to-toe ZEBRA PRINT. (WHAT?!)
By the end of this experiment, I caught myself feeling into the idea of wearing animal print pieces more frequently. Normally, when I’m looking to add some spice to an outfit, I reach for one of the brightest colors in my closet. This time, I grabbed a cheetah print top, instead. (Progress!)