Changing a leopard's spots

I’ve made an exciting new discovery. And I say ‘new’ because it’s new to me and my wardrobe. It’s actually been around for ages and ages, sifting down through eras, each generation laying claim and every mutation expressing a different mood, style or suggestion. It’s the most ubiquitous, trammel-sexy flash’n’trash-Pat-Butcher-but-Grace-Kelly-at-the-same-time hooker prim and proper snuggly predatory glorious pattern around. Kin ye see whaddid izyit? Why leopard print of course.

Now I’m obviously a bit late to the party here, given that when I googled ‘leopard print’ I was offered almost forty-four million results, and every newspaper and magazine I’ve picked up in the last ten days seems to be running a feature on ‘The 10 best LP MUST-HAVES’ but, up until very recently, I’d always written it off as ‘a bit naff’. But that vague whiff of tastelessness is underrated- I realise now is that its inherent naffness is a great thing. It takes the sting out of an otherwise pretty dramatic statement (historically prints and skins of animals were believed to convey power to the wearer and as early as the eighteenth century, elaborate silk designs emulating exotic furs were used to evoke a sense of luxury and wealth) and renders it harmless and fun to be around. Its chequered past only ramps up the thrill of donning a bit o’spot.

That lightly subversive undertone of being synonymous with those ‘all-fur-coat-no-knickers’ shenanigans of generations gone by, makes you a little bit daring by default but it doesn’t take itself too seriously either, and by association, the wearer can bask in the insouciance of it all.

It cosies up nicely with the gentler things in your wardrobe despite its vampy nature (exhibit A: a massive fluffy scarf I’ve just bought in which I swaddle myself shapeless and render everyday a duvet day) but is also able to alleviate potential boredom in an outfit with the same kitsch flair an out-of-date Heat mag provides in the doctors waiting room. These days, it is still sexy (tell my woolly scarf that), but in an ironic way. And we all know ironic sex is the best.

Because of all this loaded subtext leopard spots carry with them; it can be all things to all people. The sheer ruddy number of ways to style it makes my crotch hot. It’s the new neutral, so you can literally wear it with anything, ANYTHING I tell you. It just looks fabulous. All in black? Super chic; bright block colours? Yes please; stripes? Mother may I! There are also blown-out abstracted print versions readily available everywhere, from skirts to coats to scarves, which means you can wear it on the sly if you’re not quite ready for full rawr.

It’s also a mighty fine leveller. Example- I wanted a belt to add splashes of interest to jeans and jumpers and so picked up a rather yummy (fake) pony skin version from Topshop. It was 22 quid and does the trick very nicely thank you very much. An almost identical one from Isabel Marant is currently on retailing for £261.61 (weirdly specific price) and it’s lovely and probs superior quality than the ol’Toppers version, but hey, that’s the point.

Everyone from By Malene Birger to Moschino, Saunt Laurent to J Crew, River Island, Topshop and French Connection have a smattering of spot, even good old M&S have got in on the action and are selling a car coat for £69. So choose your entry level and dive in. I, for one, am swimming in a speckled sea of leopard!

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