How leopard print became a summer staple

Photo: Getty Images 

Once as autumnal as falling leaves and conker fights, leopard looks set to be the surprise-hit print of the summer, explains Hannah Banks-Walker

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By Hannah Banks-Walker on

I didn’t think a leopard could change its spots. I thought those spots would forever be a seasonal signifier – the nod we all needed to tell us autumn had arrived; that we could start wearing ankle boots, tights and faux fur coats (in leopard print, obviously). 2018 has brought many, many surprises. The fact that leopard print is absolutely everywhere, however, is one of the less bizarre, more welcome of these. It’s not that it hasn’t ever been included in sunny season collections, just that it’s never been as prominent as it has this summer, which is thanks, in part, to cult brand Realisation Par’s Naomi skirt.

Like most Instagram trends, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why this skirt became such a breakout hit. It’s a slip-style midi in leopard print, so not exactly something we haven’t seen before. But anything Realisation Par makes seems to be a sell-out (it’s the brand responsible for those frilly wrap dresses copied all over the high street). It may also have been down to the way it was worn on social media – women on their holidays paired it with simple T-shirts, chic sandals and straw bags. Whatever the reason, the skirt has sold out multiple times, only to be restocked before promptly selling out again.

Anything leopard that you buy now is really just practical – a way of constructing a wardrobe for all seasons

This isn’t the only item of leopard clothing I’ve been seeing frequently, either. I’ve walked past so many people wearing & Other Stories’ kaftan dress, I’ve lost count. M&S’s leopard dress with a side stripe was so popular, it also sold out (currently available in only size 6 and 18), which is the same situation with Hush’s multiple styles. From cami dresses to long sleeved smocks, they sold out faster than you could click. Then there’s Ganni and Rixo, who both have collections full of the print – on swimsuits, shirts and everything in between – and Whistles, whose own £99 skirt also sold out. Not to worry, though – the high street has plenty of options still in stock that you can buy right now. 

Now I come to think of it, a leopard T-shirt with white denim and a holiday sunset sounds like a match made in heaven. Or even a pair of wide-leg printed trousers with a plain cami and tan slides. Dressing for work in the heat has become a complete chore, so I’m contemplating a leopard midi with mules, or even a spotty shirt with plain black trousers if i need to be smarter. I would also say that a quick look at the new season collections, which have alarmingly started to land in stores already, shows that the print is perhaps even bigger news for next season (it’s that autumnal appeal). So, anything leopard that you buy now is really just practical – a way of constructing a wardrobe for all seasons. A leopard midi skirt, for example, will work just as well with tights and ankle boots. And some printed trousers will be crying out for slouchy knits when it gets colder. Who can argue with that? Not me. 

Click here for the best summer leopard print pieces and what to wear them with


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Photo: Getty Images 
Tagged in:
leopard print
fashion advice
Hannah Banks-Walker
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