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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, & Keyonna Summers

Leopard print: Trendy or timeless?



gene_tierney.jpgI've become predictable.

Twitter friend Andy sent me this link today, a Slate essay about leopard print from Barney's creative director Simon Doonan. Given my closet, it's a law of averages that I'd be wearing SOME leopard. Indeed, I glanced down, considered my leopard print cardigan and let out a there-goes-the-neighborhood sigh.

I've been deep in the leopard game since age 15, when I first got a pink baby doll tee-shirt with a little leopard heart in the middle. Intoxicating. I became quite literally drawn to it, like a dolty bird to a ball of tinfoil. These days, friends roll their eyes when we shop, because it's like I physically can't NOT go to it.

Leopard has an air of spunk, an old-fashioned pinup vibe that makes outfits immediately interesting. Because the base colors are neutral, leopard looks fantastic with bright, solid shades. It takes a black dress and makes it special. It's sexy, not smutty when done well. Paired with lipstick and heels and sunglasses, it's an instant mental promotion. You can run the company AND seduce the pool boy!

Leopard is drugs.

Simon Doonan argues that leopard is not the trend the unfocused fashion world would have you believe, because most women lean toward bland "investment pieces" instead of bold personality picks. It's an interesting thought, and I think he's right. But I've never thought leopard was a trend at all.  It has been around since the beginning of time (just look at actress Gene Tierney and her coordinating pet here in the 1940s), and it never goes away. It's timeless, the way all inspirations from nature are timeless. Because they're, you know, natural.

We must be realistic, though. Leopard can be dangerous, hard as good cheese to pull off. It's a fine, fine line between sophisticated butt-kicking CEO and nutty bag lady picking glitter out of the trash can. And thusly, it scares people away. My favorite quote from Simon's piece?

The truth is that leopard print is challenging. It is not for sissies and comes with some serious baggage. It is tacky, theatrical, and sad, albeit fabulously so.

ballet_flat.jpgSo well-said.

Want in? Check out these styles from Express and Macys and Ann Taylor. If you're new to the land of leopard, start out small. Pair a leopard scarf or blouse with classic pieces like dark jeans or a pencil skirt. Look for leopard in structured, figure-friendly shapes. Inexpensive ballet flats, like these for $20 from Old Navy, are a perfect place to start, too. Kind of like testing lime green nail polish on your toes.

Go on. Try it. You'll make me feel better next time I get a tweet.

Deal Diva Stephanie

[Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 6:30pm]


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