Wearing Animal Print: Can You Pull It Off?

If the mere utterance of animal print conjures images of Zoolander and retro costume parties gone wrong, then it’s time to reconsider the call of the wild. The season-less trend has become a ubiquitous sartorial staple, boasting far more than nine lives. And donning the proverbial spots is a surefire way to bring the school of rock into your wardrobe.

Animal Print Saint Laurent and Burberry fall runway style

Source: Saint Laurent and Burberry Prorsum/Vogue.com

When styled correctly, the fierce patterns are a powerful addition to any ensemble, acting as an edgy counterpart that can be paired with almost anything. The trick to not drawing the wrong attention is to take the print in small bites — when it comes to leopard, cheetah, and zebra, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. But have no fear: Its wide variety of neutral colors and iterations — from black and white to beige, brown, and gray — provide plenty of options

This season, design houses from Burberry Prorsum to Calvin Klein Collection and more have shown their true spots — and stripes — sending animalistic-inspired menswear looks down the fall runways that are newly modern and tailor-made for the urban jungle.

Here, five runway-inspired ways to rock the print and take a walk on the wilder side. If anyone asks, you’re with the band.

1. Mix and match

Burberry Fall 2015 Runway style animal print

Source: Burberry Prorsum/Vogue.com

With his fall collection, Burberry Prorsum designer Christopher Bailey provided full-on permission to blend prints with ensembles that will have you ready for your close-up. Lush leopard shearling was elevated to a new level of glamour when paired with smaller micro-spots and the brand’s iconic plaid checks. Bohemian-inspired paisley and floral shirts made unlikely companions to more big bold spots. If nothing else, animal-patterned scarves and over-sized day bags brought a punch of print that is appropriate for nearly any look du jour.

2. Go gray

Calvin Klein Fall 2015 Runway style animal print

Source: Calvin Klein/Vogue.com

When no fewer than 50 shades of gray swaggered down the Calvin Klein Collection fall runway, it was clear that this sartorial showing was going to be one to top the charts. Charcoal, granite, slate, and heather hues dominated the fall collection, so naturally the animal print changed its stripes to accommodate the color palette. It turns out speckled cheetah and leopard textures are rather fetching in foggy gray while adding a touch of street to a tailored look.

3. Accessorize!

John Varvatos Fall 2015 Runway style animal print

Source: John Varvatos/Vogue.com

Designer John Varvatos could practically be the king of rock himself with his perpetually cool collections, so it’s no surprise that this season he channeled rock-stud status a la Bob Dylan. The dynamism was in the details, with accessories taking center stage. Take a cue and add one statement leopard piece, be it a big duffel bag or a handsomely unorthodox pair of micro-print boots. Or, just wear a spotted, sharply tailored coat for ferocious protection from the elements.

4. Push the boundaries

Moschino Fall 2015 Runway style animal print

Source: Moschino/Vogue.com

While Moschino designer Jeremy Scott had no intention of taming the beast that raged through his daring fall collection, his butch menswear looks were a reminder that some irreverence can be quite fun. While we recommend skipping the furry moon boots, a pair of bold leopard pants could easily be styled with a more subtle button-down shirt and blazer. Or, topping off your suit with a snow-leopard scarf or hat is a totally acceptable way to channel that animal instinct.

5. It’s all about attitude

Saint Laurent Fall 2015 Runway style animal print

Source: Saint Laurent/Vogue.com

If there’s one thing that the Saint Laurent fall lineup proved, it was that animal-tinged, rock-star style is all about copping the right attitude. Whether you sport skinny, super-tight leather pants with your zebra overcoat, or save them for a rainy day, it’s all about keeping your cool and rocking whatever you’re wearing with total confidence.

Follow Rachel on Twitter at @rachellw and on Instagram at @rachellwatkins

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