Photo Courtesy Chi City Fashion

Few trends last forever – most don’t. And very few graduate to become a classic style like jeans or the little black dress. Most trends last for a season, then leave. Yet, history repeats, and the trends make their way around and come back into style. One of these special cases is that of animal print. Never has a style offered up such an incredible sense of sex-appeal, sophistication, and elegance. Whether it be cheetah, tiger, leopard, or zebra print, this pattern has had the fashion crowd going wild for years now, and doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Both the runways and the streets have been chock-full with various prints, all piled on top of one another and vying for attention. They’ve been mixed with denims, leathers, suedes, and everything in between. We’re laying out why this trend will always be a win, and what pieces we’re looking to add into our closet and make the most of this upcoming season.

Our first case study in the versatility of animal print is from streetwear mixed with high-fashion giant, Off-White. Creative director Virgil Abloh has masterfully combined athletic-inspired clothing with high-fashion fabrics and styles, crafting a special that is completely in line with his brand’s name – it is neither white nor black, but rather off-white, somewhere in the middle. In his recent show he rolled out an edgy animal print – python. This print was layered on bright neon yellow green, and presented in various styles including tiered dresses, mini skirts, pants, and leather jackets. He demonstrated the great versatility of the print, considering it’s combination with a very bold and very eye-catching color. This proves a point here, animal prints can be layered on virtually any fabric or material, and fit many people’s personal style, even if you tend towards more masculine styles or athletic-inspired looks.

Even in this bright tone, you can still work a piece like this into your wardrobe. We’d recommend these Off-White pieces to be more directed towards your off-duty wardrobe or your eveningwear, not professional wear (but hey, if you can and it’s appropriate, go for it!). Try layering perhaps the top with a distressed dark skinny jean or black pant. Abloh paired his pieces with grey denim, in jackets and skirts – you can do the same very easily.

Looking back on one of Versace’s recent collections, it’s clear to see that animal print is alive and roaring in the historic fashion house. The brand has been pivotal in shepherding a movement that combines sensuality with style and sophistication, and done so in a brilliant way. Models pranced down the runway in looks bearing the brand’s signature golds and yellows, but also walked alongside dynamic black and white zebra prints, marled giraffe prints, and colored versions of the same print mixed in with. Donatella Versace did not stop with the classic black and white prints, but took the opportunity to paint in colored splotches in the garments – some in hot pinks, deep browns, and aqua blues. There was still a sense of sophistication there, but an added sparkle and added excitement that make the look a whole lot of fun and interesting. It was a runway walk on the wild side, and we’re loving it.

And while this collection is not Versace’s most recent, the animal print trend as transcended it’s seasonal boundaries. Almost every season, in some way, animal print has found its way to the runway. It may not be the most popular or the hottest new thing, but it’s still a hot ticket item that people will turn to when looking for something to wear. If you’re ever standing in front of your closet wondering what to wear, try reaching for that zebra print blazer or leopard print mini dress – you can’t go wrong.

For those looking for an elegant solution to this timeless trend, we suggest looking at Spanish brand Paco Rabanne. While animal prints were not as widespread in this runway show as they have been with other brands, they were a standout among the other gorgeous prints shown on dresses, coats, and pants. The classic leopard print coat was revitalized in a beautiful way and paired with a snake-print leather trench coat for good measure. A floor-grazing zebra skirt featured a flared tier at it’s base, and was paired with a black, high-neck corset-type top. Each look was layered with multiple patterns, including an animal print. It proves you don’t have to treat your favorite leopard-print top as something that can only be paired with neutrals. Try layering with something else – sequined tee, a printed denim jacket, even a pair of python boots.

When looking for sophistication in your animal print look, pay greater attention to fabrics and styles. Nothing cheapens a look quicker than a tacky fabric or slinky material. If you’re going for a sensual look, target a silk or a thinner crepe fabric. Thicker fabrics can maintain a more professional vibe and offer more structure to your look.