x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Katie Trotter: Choose your leopard print with care

There are only two ways to wear leopard print - discreet or all-out.

Tina Chang / The National
Tina Chang / The National

I've been skirting around the subject of leopard for a while now in the hope that it might fade away, rather like yo-yos or side ponytails, but I'm afraid it's here to stay.

The problem is that leopard is oh so easy to ridicule. And then there's the bad press - normally hinting towards the old mutton dressed as lamb thing. You know the type - the half-crazed dye job and the litre of white musk that lurks behind her in a giant puff. Women with oooomph, pizzazz - wives with secret lives.

The thing is, a woman has to be feeling pretty darn pleased with herself to pull on a garment that looks a little like a giant cat. If people such as Chloë Sevigney and her brigade didn't look so freaking fabulous we would all just be able to cast it aside and carry on as normal. But they just won't stop wearing it. So what do we do?

First, we need to re-evaluate things - change our perception a little, think more sleek than freak. Then we need to arm ourselves with a bit of background knowledge. There are only two ways to wear leopard. One is in the demure way - little and often, flashes rather than pieces. Just think of Audrey Hepburn's pill box hat or Catherine Deneuve's leopard-print coat circa 1965. A short cardigan with a plain white buttoned-up shirt, cut-off dark jeans and flats look great. Keep your hair simple, your shoes flat and your make-up clean. Basically anything that doesn't scream "come hither" helps. Start small - like testing yellow nail varnish on your toes. Shoes and bags in leopard give great bite to an otherwise plain outfit.

Avoid pairing animal prints with red shoes - or lips, for that matter (a common mistake) - and that also goes for lace, sequins, rhinestones, or anything else that gives the look of a late-Nineties cougar.

But better by far is the second way to wear leopard print: go all out and create an assault on the senses. A three-quarter length overcoat, or a body-con figure-sucking dress.

OK, it's not for sissies and you run the risk of creating a bit of a hoo-ha, but what the heck, at least you'll have bite.