As I recall, my introduction to animal print began as a tot while watching The Flintstones. However, I don’t remember wearing it as children’s fashion in the ‘80s leaned more toward bright color blocks, although I do recall some neon cheetah print from Lisa Frank. Name for me one ‘tween girl who could resist that?

But for this girl who likes to play it safe, my love of all things leopard started around 2007. This coincided with my foray into the world of fashion, and no wonder. Christian Dior is credited with making this fashion statement in 1947:

To wear leopard you must have a kind of femininity which is a little bit sophisticated. If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.

Well then. Thank God, no one has ever accused me of being sweet.

Animal print is a funny thing. It’s either classy or skanky. There isn’t a lot of middle ground. One must proceed with caution with this fabulously fun print. A splash is all that is needed.

When I began planning my wedding, I knew one thing: I wanted the leopard to be present. But I also didn’t want him to rule the day. Thankfully, a dear friend who was a designer in a past life took my one definite prop—leopard clutches for my bridesmaids—and grew it into a vision of 1950s Hollywood glamour. When my bestie opened the box containing the finished product that she and my sisters would carry, she started to cry.

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Photo by Rebekah J. Murray

Animal print is powerful, I tell ya.

And I think David did his job in making sure none of us gave off a skanky vibe. We were sassy but classy, thank you very much.

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Photo by Rebekah J. Murray

Animal print isn’t just for your clothes. There are throws and pillows in my living room, paper in the glass doors of my hutch, candle holders, borders around my framed art, purses, unmentionables (but of course!)—you name it, we have it. These things are all in different rooms, mind you. And before you begin pitying the men in my household, please note: we also have The Lads hanging on our walls and our fair share of Star Wars paraphernalia. It’s a give and take relationship.

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Rachel Zoe is right when she says:

Every woman should have leopard, but not every woman will wear leopard. You have to have courage to wear leopard.

Perhaps this is why it took me 28 years to don this print. I’m stronger now. I take more risks. I wear leopard. I’m growing.

Our fashion should describe both who we are and who we want to be. For you, it could be a color or a shoe or a style. For me, it’s the leopard.

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