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Leopard print: the new neutral

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Exotic past

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While leopard print has never truly gone out of style, it is particularly "in" this season. This wild trend has a long history. The current leopard fanaticism stems from a time when people wore actual leopard skin clothing---a symbol of great wealth and status. During the Jazz Age, silver screen startlets such as Carole Lombard favored the fiesty print thus sparking a surge in its popularity. Bombshell Jayne Mansfield was an avid follower of the fad in the 1950s, which perhaps contributed to leopard print's seductive connotation. Leopard print has had many associations over the years (elite, exotic, edgy, risqué), but today, most fashion lovers regard it as a wardrobe staple. Leopard is the perfect way to add pizzazz to your look.

Ways to wear

If you want to embrace leopard clothing items likes coats and pants, you'll look polished if you keep the rest of your outfit simple. Put a leopard print coat or vest over a classic, white button-down with dark jeans, red pumps, and gold jewelry. Pair an emerald green blouse with a leopard print pencil skirt or a pair of leopard skinnies.

Should you simply wish to add pops of the print to your ensemble, then treat leopard as you would a neutral. For example, instead of wearing nude patent pumps, wear leopard calf-hair heels---which are, by the way, a worthy investment; they go with virtually everything. Little bits of leopard go a long way. A leopard skin clutch, cuff, scarf, or belt adds instant panache to your look.

Don't be afraid to mix leopard print with patterns! It looks lovely with stripes, polka dots, and plaid. Most fabrics complement it as well. Chambray, leather, and metallic are particulary compatible options. Leopard print is remarkably versatile. Everyone can wear it. It's even en vogue for men this year! See slideshow for styling inspiration. And check out fabulous finds below! Holiday gifts galore.

Leopard apparel

Broome Street Denim (neutral ikat disco animal), katespade.com, $136.00

Halogen Leopard Print Wool Cardigan, nordstrom.com, $78.00

Belted Faux Fur Vest, nordstrom.com, $68.98

Leopard Furry Coat, zara.com, $159.00

Leopard Print Top, zara.com, $39.90

Animal Print Pencil Skirt, talbots.com, $89.99

Furry Leopard Sweater Jacket, anntaylor.com, $139.00

Fierce Leopard Jacquard Ankle Pants, anntaylor.com, $98.00

Bronze Animal Jacquard Skirt, anntaylor.com, $89.88

Mossimo Women's V-Neck Cap Sleeve Dress- Animal Print, target.com, $11.98

Leopard shoes and accessories

DV by Dolce Vita "Fife" Boot, nordstrom.com, $64.47

Leopard Messenger Bag, zara.com, $49.90

Animal Print Heel Pointy Toe Pumps, loft.com, $79.50

Calf Hair Pouch, jcrew.com, $78.00

Collection Etta Calf Hair Pumps, jcrew.com, $350.00

Factory Wide Calf Hair Belt, factory.jcrew.com, $49.50

Warehouse Leather Leopard Print Gloves, asos.com, $54.45

ASOS Faux Fur Snood, asos.com, $29.95

Monki Bibi Leopard Print Tights, asos.com, $18.15

ASOS Angora Beret In Leopard, asos.com, $19.96

Women's Mossimo Supply Co. Lucretia Sneaker- Leopard, target.com, $16.99

totes Manual Purse Umbrella with Case- Leopard, target.com, $14.99

La Mer Triple Wrap Watch- Leopard, target.com, $39.99

Leopard Pony Holders, anthropologie.com, $8.00

Animal Print Calf Hair Tote, gap.com, $169.99

Go wild!

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