When I was a teenager, my mother forbid me from wearing leopard print. Animal print, she reasoned, was too risqué for a young lady. Thus, in college, I brazenly purchased a few leopard items—a clutch, a pair of calf-hair pumps—as a coup d’etat against my mother. This was about the same period I put fake nails on—purely as an act of rebellion—damaging my perfectly lovely fingertips and costing unnecessary amounts of time and money. Sometimes, Mom is right about some things. But, not about leopard—on the caveat that it’s done correctly.
Nowadays, leopard has become a staple print—comparable to nautical stripes, polka dots, and florals for its level or permeation in the fashion markets and closets of women everywhere. Leopard is practically a neutral, you can mix and match it with a variety of colors, shades, and prints.
However, I’m terribly particular with my prints. My preferences border on obsessive compulsive disorder. I have a prejudice against small polka dots. Polka dots must be large and evenly spaced, or else I find them appalling. Striped shirts? Two colors only, and I loathe when the stripes are of varying widths. How grotesque.
Thus, when upgrading my pair of leopard pumps from the pair I had in college, I struggled to find the perfect pair. The material had to be calf hair, the print had to be large, and the shade had to be the correct shade of brown. As for the pump, round or pointed toe, without any sort of studs, leather detailing, or odd accoutrements that would make the shoe faddish and out-of-style come next year.
Finally, after quite a bit of searching, I settled on a lovely, almond-toe calf hair leopard pump from Coye Nokes (pictured below). When they arrived, I squealed with delight. Moreover, unlike my last pair, they were comfortable, with a pad at the bed of the shoe that adds cushion to the forefoot and keeps the shoes from slipping off the ankles. Voila, I had found the perfect pair.
This was crucial because, beyond nude and black, the third pair of pumps a girl should have on her shoe rack is leopard. Leopard pumps add style and pizzazz to a black dress or black slacks—they go with practically every color.
You can also take it up a notch, mixing prints by pairing leopard pumps with brocade or floral pants. Or, add leopard to a military look.
For a classic look that’s always chic, throw on your favorite pair of jeans, the perfect white v-neck t-shirt, a blazer (black, white, or navy), and leopard pumps.
Here are my picks.
Kate Spade Charm Heels, $325.