Oh no! Mary Berry what have you done? The Great British Bake Off star wore a leopard print coat on the front of yesterday's Times Magazine and, suddenly, leopard print started to look like something your mother might not just approve of, she might even wear. (It's not that Mary doesn't look very chic and smart and all, she does. It's just... well, that's precisely the ante-point of leopard.)
Ever since I was a student, I've nurtured a little 'thing' for leopard print (I blame you, Courtney Love). (Four pairs of shoes, one pair of boots, two bags, and counting...) It was the leather jacket's louder, trashier sister. For years it teetered on the cusp of being neither in fashion nor out of it. It was too rock and roll to bother with mere trends. Too 'tasteless and it knew it and, you know what, it didn't care.' Pretty much every year someone tried to declare leopard over (much like skinny jeans) and the cool girls just lit another fag, shrugged and kept on wearing it. Even its permanent place in Pat Butcher's and Bet Lynch's wardrobe couldn't wreck its karma. Especially Bet Lynch... there was just something about those fags and that beehive... That and the fact that when Bet was at the leopard print vanguard in the 70s your mum most definitely did not approve.
But then the really cool girls got their mitts on it. Kate Moss adopted it - always with black. Editor of Paris Vogue, Emmanuelle Alt, and Carine Roitfeld, love it. French women, in general, wear it. What more evidence do you need that leopard hasn't lost it, it's just gained a new convert.
3 low-key ways to wear leopard
1. On your feet...
FlatsTry Jigsaw for pointy flats, gap.com for celine inspired skate shoes (if they haven't sold out), Zara or Whistles for slippers.
Ankle bootsChelsea boots at Russell & Bromley, or a block heel boot from Sam Edelman at asos.
CourtsGianvito Rossi at Netaporter.com if you're feeling flush, J Crew's Etta pumps (if you move quickly there's a 'Shoe Event' online now) or M&S Autograph if not so much.
2. Under your arm or over your shoulder...Slouchy clutch, try Autograph at M&S or Topshop for a black and leopard duffle. The high street abounds with Celine-inspired black work-friendly totes with a leopard-print panel.
There are lots of muted variants out there this season, like this coat (The Klein) from a massively rejuvenated All Saints. (No longer just for old goths with bigger bank accounts. And I say, that as one of them...)
3. When it's not really leopard print at all...
Alternatively, you could just make like Julie (Bet Lynch) Goodyear and live a 'leopard print kind of life'...