DO THIS DON’T: Wear Leopard Print From Head to Toe

I'm not saying that I am pulling this look off successfully, I'm just saying it's interesting.

Jul 30, 2012 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

I have long preached that leopard print is a neutral, and as such, can be worn and matched with anything. That is, with the exception of itself. Leopard on leopard always seemed like something no self-respecting person could/should pull off. Then I saw this photo last week of Gwen Stefani wearing leopard-on-leopard-on-leopard while out promoting the first No Doubt record to be released in over 10 years.

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I'm starting to re-think my position. She's really working it here. That broad has insanely good style. I like to think that I don’t ever copy anyone, but Gwen is the reason I dyed my hair pink years ago and asked my dentist to put some fake braces on my teeth. He declined to do so.

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I'm thinking that maybe head-to-toe leopard isn’t the world’s worst idea, and when done right, it can be quite thrilling. A lot of people pointed out on my post about wearing a white dress this summer that they were terrified of how dirty white gets. Well, leopard print hides a multitude of stains. You could barf on yourself and it would never show.

I spent valuable hours that I could have used for sleep (my Olympic sport) cruising the web for some examples of hot babes (as per usual, celebs & bloggers) rocking the head to toe leopard look successfully. 

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Left: Rihanna. Right: Keri Hilson.

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Left: Amitee Blogazine. Right: DEV.

I love the way leopard print looks on all skin tones. I think what these ladies are doing right is wearing their multiple leopard pieces in very conservative, buttoned up styles. Leopard by itself is a pretty bold statement -- there is no need to add in overt sexiness. Also, they are keeping the scale of the prints either exactly identical or severely contrasting in size. 

A jumpsuit may be the easiest way to wear full-body leopard print. Add a pair of matching leopard shoes like I did for extra craziness.

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I'm not saying that I am pulling this look off successfully, I'm just saying it's interesting. Luckily I was going to watch a movie in a graveyard, so most of the attendees weren't alive and were therefore unable to judge my outfit.

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Clockwise from top left: Leopard Toms, $95.00. Pink soled oxfords, $78.00. Black/leopard wedge heel bootie, $189.00. Cap toe pump, $170.00.

Head-to-toe leopard print could also work if it's done in fun colors with a few classic brown leopard print pieces grounding the mix.

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Clockwise from top left: Tank top in pink or orange, $15.50. Pale blue skinny jean, $69.00. Thong sandal, $60.00. Skinny belt, $55.00. Double layer necklace, $198.00.

I love the inherent "Mob Wives" feeling in an all leopard outfit. It's blissfully, ironically tacky. Normally I am diametrically opposed to irony in fashion, but this combo would be so perfect to wear on a lunch date with Big Ang that I'll allow it:

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From left: Sleeveless top, $19.94. Skinny jean, $57.00. Pony hair belt, $47.90.

I also kind of adore the idea of leopard on leopard when you mix in a very large dose of funky via crazy neon colors, studs & spikes and a kid's style backpack:

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From left: Spiked moto jacket, $178.00. Fuchsia leopard skirt, $10.00. Purple & leopard backpack, $49.99.

A good starter kit for the first time you try wearing this look would be to match a leopard dress to a leopard bag. A clutch is a smart idea because it's small and doesn't add much extra to the print party. Bare arms and legs also help to break up a giant expanse of leopard, so the end result is quirky, not gaudy. 

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Left: Ombre leopard dress, $148.00. Right: Wrist chain clutch, $429.00.

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Left: Silk cap sleeve dress, $448.00. Right: Cream leopard clutch, $45.00.

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Left: Satchel with green trim, $358.00. Right: Printed jersey wrap dress, $375.00.

Don't forget to wear matching long line underwear under your dress, in case the wind blows your skirt up. IT HAPPENS! This is one way leopard-on-leopard is your friend -- the pattern is so busy, it fools the eye. Nobody will ever realize what they are seeing, even if your dress is over your head.

I can totally hear everyone shaking their heads at this idea in disbelief, but I honestly am going to keep trying to work a bit of leopard on leopard into my everyday outfits. Maybe I wouldn't wear it on a job interview, but otherwise, why not? I'm only ever dressing to entertain myself, and fashion isn't supposed to be so deadly serious. It's supposed to be fun. Live a little! Make people think you're a nut. It keeps them on their toes.

What do you think? Tacky or terrific? 

Twitter: (@IveyAlison)