This picture of my mother was taken in 1964, the day after her wedding to my father. This dress is the only leopard print piece she ever wore. I think it looks fantastic.
As far as prints were concerned, she was more likely to go for simple Breton stripes, or small flowers. Leopard print was something she considered ‘tacky’, or ‘cheap’. And yet, here it is: the proof that she once wore it, too.
I must admit that for the most part I share her opinion on leopard print, at least as far as my own outfits are concerned. However, I think it can be quite elegant on the right person with the right attitude, like her in this picture.
What is it, then, that makes these leopard print accents classy and elegant? I think it must be because the rest of the outfit is pared-down, almost severe, and accessories are kept to the minimum. This minimalist approach lets the leopard print be the centre of attention; it doesn’t have to compete with anything else.
I think this is the key to accessorising, especially with something eye-catching: let the accent / accessory steal the show, and the rest of the outfit is just the simple, plain background to show it off to maximum effect.
Any item of clothing or accessory with a ‘diva attitude’ – animal prints, cat’s eye sunglasses, statement necklaces – looks best when paired with something plain, simple, modest. Something that lets’s the diva take centre stage.
My mother knew this instinctively. And although I would never describe her as a diva (she was far too shy and modest for that; I’ve always been the one to claim the limelight…), she sure knew how to stand out in the crowd…
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DEDICATION: in loving memory of Ritva L (1 Jan 1942 – 25 Dec 1996)