Leopard Print: Flashy? Or Trashy?

Leopard print is one of those things in fashion that people love or hate—there is no in-between. For most of my life, my opinion on the print has been associated with a longing to be viewed as subtle, collegiate, and even J. Crew inspired, yet, since the start of 2016 my opinion on the print has changed and culminated into absolute worship.

I guess change is kind of a dramatic word.

In actuality, my personal style has, more or less, evolved from dressing for other people to dressing for myself. Other forms of cult-like-worship for leopard print has been inspired by GucciKate Spade, and Jimmy Choo for reinstating proclivity towards the print whilst also reminding us that fashion can be fun. Which is exactly why I love the print, and why, I assume, everyone else does as well.

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Joan Crawford, sleeveless dress with leopard print trim, Jully 22, 1928

The truth of the matter is that yes, leopard print has been used to show some déclassé characters over the years, but its origins were once signifiers of wealth and prominence in fashion. The design was first coined by Joan Crawford in the 1920’s and lasted as a symbol of sophistication and elegance until about the 1960’s when it started being featured in racy publications like Frederick’s of Hollywood and attributed to vixens and trophy wives like Anne Bancroft in The Graduate. By the early 70’s and well into the 80’s, leopard print was reinvented by rockstars, musicians, and pop icons showing that animal print had edge and sex appeal. What remains true with leopard print is that everyone still loves it regardless of whether it is in high fashion or the exact opposite, this fluctuation is the reason its associated with femininity, sex appeal, and power.

If it wasn’t for Gucci, or Mui Mui, or Isabel Mirant, or hell—even Kate Spade x Manrepeller’s leopard party last fall, would Forever 21 have created the physical conception I have slid my feet in the photos I am subjecting you to?

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My actual feet

That’s rhetorical.

They’re not Gucci, they’re not even Jimmy Choo, and they’re nowhere near Zara’s leopard print boots, but they fit me perfectly and were only three dollars in a clearance bin.

Leopard Shoes

Regardless of all of that, would I have bought them had I been concerned with what everyone was going to think every time I slipped them on my feet?

No.

I probably wouldn’t have, because, at the time, my mind would have been so preoccupied with how I was perceived that the thought of even wearing them would have put me in a state of serious anxiety. BUT now, who gives a hootenanny?

Leopard has made me a new person.

Leopard print changes the wearer into someone who is not-quite-predator, not-quite-prey.

Leopard print was something that I chose, simply because I liked it.

So when I first wore them, I did it in a way that would make them absolutely recognizable from far away. I wore them black joggers, a black hoodie, and black sunglasses. The Shoes were the star of the show and everything else was secondary.

The truth is, I feel good about them in spite of the looks that I get from the occasional straight man in Silicon Valley. Do their side glances mean they think I’m flashy?

Or does it make them think I’m trashy?

Or does it mean that I have sex appeal?

Or does it mean that they think I’m a high-class sort of trashy?

?

??

????

!!!!!!

Asking for a friend.

Image by Tova & Wild