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Fit To Print

Images + Post By: | August 24, 20116 Comments

My love for leopard print is eternal. If there’s something (anything) leopard printed in a store—a wallet, a shower cap—I have to at least hold it in my hand. Leopard print is beyond trend; it’s not IF you wear it, but how.

As a leopard lover, I have been through many phases with this print. The “accessorize solids with animal” phase. The “spandex and gold lamé leopard” phase was cute (and long), and now I think leopard print is circling back around to be more about opulence than showing your wild side.  I saw this perfectly accessorized old lady strolling down the street the other day wearing a gorgeous leopard print cardigan and it reminded me: this print has status.

My trashy leopard phase emerged from rebelling against leopard as a demure symbol of wealth. So I wore too much of it, or I wore it cut low, or tight, or low and tight. Leopard became wild when I made it campy; when I looked like Nordstrom on MDMA, when I looked like too much to handle and that was exactly enough.

Now, the way I want to wear leopard is about luxury. The unruliness comes from the juxtaposition of my wild hair/tattoos/rouged cheeks with a perfectly tailored or structured piece. I’m not saying pair it with pearls; I’m saying pay attention to fabric and shape. I want to be able to incorporate classic without looking like an American sportswear ad or falling back into the era when I looked like Ms. Dinsmore from Great Expectations.

Come fall, maybe I need to retire my leopard plimsolls and pair street wear with a leopard loafer. Giving the people ostentatious, gurl! I haven’t found a proper sneaker in seasons upon seasons, anyway. Now is a good time to mention I never, ever want to see a ballet slipper ever again anywhere, least of all in leopard. I would settle for either of these shoes, though. Both have great texture:

Leopard Loafer from Steve Madden

Leopard Scalloped Boot by ALFIE

Big cat print has also been updated incredibly well by Marc by Marc Jacobs.  I love literal. And large. This short-sleeve dress is clutch:

And since there’s definitely 1970s happening, now is a great time for thrifted vintage prints on button ups, skirts, and shifts.

While it’s a constant that fashion is always (and has always been) about borrowing, taking, and appropriating I’ve seen some prints recently that make me question where the line is. Like shirts that are called or could be called, “Tribal,” especially when they feature beads and fringe. What tribe? In this case, naming a garment “tribal” completely erases the history and context of that word in a country where white Americans attempted to destroy  tribal cultures. “Tribal” also has meaning in the global context, and is often connected to stereotypes about other cultures being primitive or exotic. Other trendy titles of tops I’ve seen are “Native,” “Mayan,” and “Aztec.”  I question the accuracy of the imagery on these clothes, and also the privilege of  visually defining  another culture and when it is (and then later isn’t) attractive, desirable, and for sale.


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