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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Fashion notes: Keep your leopard prints in check

I have yet to figure out what makes the leopard print so appealing to women in this region.
Cat skills: A model for Tome shows off the latest autumn/winter leopard-print look. Samir Hussein / WireImage
Cat skills: A model for Tome shows off the latest autumn/winter leopard-print look. Samir Hussein / WireImage

With the autumn season reaching its fashion climax, furs (hopefully faux) and animal prints are bound to make their much-awaited reappearances from attics, suitcases and the dusty top shelves of our wardrobes. For some of you, this winter-ready haul may include a leopard-print coat. My advice? Be charitable and throw it into the donation bin.

I have yet to figure out what makes the leopard print so appealing to women in this region. Sure, blingy, bold and rather ostentatious style elements are stereotypically key to Middle East dressing, but why is it that, season after season, leopard-print garments make tiresome comebacks in stores here?

Many of us have that odd leopard-­print top hanging in our wardrobe, saved for those once-in-a-blue-moon days when we simply have nothing else to wear, or are just bored by the multitude of geometric and floral patterns that hang around it. At times, we may feel like getting rid of it, but we hold onto it as if there’s some unspoken rule that every woman must have at least one leopard look in her wardrobe. Others limit the print to our beachwear or undergarments.

Maybe my tone is a tad too extreme, because I’m not a total hater of animal prints. I’m quite a big fan of python patterns, especially in luxe greys and beiges. I don’t think I’m alone in my favour of sleek snakes over garish leopards, so all of you undercover leopard haters should step out from the shadows of catty clothing, and have the courage to turn down the spotted pattern. The leopard print is one that you must absolutely adore to pull it off comfortably and confidently. If you’re not quite sure where you stand, stick to less-palpable patterns, such as python.

There’s a swanky safari trend currently in vogue, and if you ask me, it’s one of the few instances in which you can get away with rocking a leopard print right now. Khakis, olive greens and whites are great colours to play with, and leopard spots make nice accents. Carry off a serene and subdued colour palette – don’t turn to jewel tones with satiny sheens, which will cheapen your look.

I wouldn’t be caught dead with some of the leopard-print bags on the market – there’s quite a vile design in stores by Saint Laurent. It’s beyond me why someone would drop about Dh7,000 on this, when they could instead go for classic all-black or burgundy quilted design. That said, the new collection from Coach does have some rather nice leopard totes and cross-body bags, along with a range of travel accessories – perhaps it’s the scale, shade and texture of leopard prints that determine whether they’re hits or misses.

Still, no matter what the scale, leopard coats don’t ever become hits, especially if they’re of a furry texture – tacky much? Make sure your outfits channel icons other than Cruella de Vil, and downplay the leopard. Think flats, scarves and even the occasional button-down blouse with the print. There’s also something about a leopard-spotted maxi dress that can be quite fun – a cotton number for poolside, or a tiered chiffon design with a dramatic slit for a fancier evening out.

Be warned, the same sultry-­yet-playful-effect isn’t achieved in a skirt of the same print. Leopard skirts can make you look like an overeager cougar or a not-quite-there newbie at a fashion magazine whose outfit lacks that effortless appeal. So if it catches your eye on your next shopping escapade, give ample thought to this risky pattern before you open your wallet.

hlodi@thenational.ae