A definitive(ish) ranking of all the animal prints

Fashion is a deeply personal thing, with people choosing to wear what they love and what makes them feel good. Opinions on what actually counts as stylish wildly differ, and are often dictated by current trends (seriously, who decided fanny packs slung over your body was a good look?).

Animal prints are as divisive a fashion statement as any. Whether it’s a leopard print or snakeskin, some people love them and others hate them. FYI, we’re just talking about the patterns here, and aren’t really into using an actual animal’s hide for fashion.

However, we’re here to tell you there is a definitive(ish) ranking of animal prints in the fashion world. Hopefully our (admittedly totally subjective) list will help clear up any further questions on the matter…

God tier: Cow print

View this post on Instagram

vienna, ya moody? 🐄 #cowprint #earthytones #moodysky

A post shared by CHEYENNE ALICE (@cheyenne.alice) on

Sure, cow print might not be the most common animal print, but we’re here to tell you it’s the best. Cows aren’t exactly the sexiest beasts in the animal kingdom, but they’re gentle, friendly and cute – what’s not to like?

A decade ago, the print was pretty much only seen in cow-themed onesies people wore when they were off school sick, but it’s since had a much chicer makeover.

View this post on Instagram

If you’re happy and you know clap your hands 👏🏼

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

All over Instagram, people have started sporting cow-print clothes in a way that’s low-key, yet super stylish. It’s a trend which reached the mainstream when Kylie Jenner wore a one-piece swimsuit with the pattern in January, but it’s clear this is a timeless design, rather than a passing fad.

View this post on Instagram

I'm not a cat, I don't say meow

A post shared by OANH (@oanhdaqueen) on

The best thing about this print is it’s simplicity, which means it’s easy to pull off and suits almost anyone. If you’re nervous about the trend, start with a cow print manicure and then go all-in on a shirt or jacket when you’re feeling a bit more confident.

Meh tier: Leopard print

Jorja Smith and Nadine Shah show two different but equally cute ways with the print (Ian West/PA)
Jorja Smith and Nadine Shah show two different but equally cute ways with the print (Ian West/PA)

Leopard print is basically the OG of all animal-inspired fashion. It might be classic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. For us, leopard print is difficult, because it can go two ways – and either be extremely cute or extremely not. If you pull it off, it can be stylish, sassy and just the right amount of playful.

In 2013 Katy Perry leaned perhaps a bit too far into leopard print (Doug Peters/PA)
In 2013 Katy Perry leaned perhaps a bit too far into leopard print (Doug Peters/PA)

But when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong. It’s got a history of trying to be ‘sexy’, and no one really wants to look like they’re trying too hard. Even if you’re wearing some pricey garms, poorly-executed leopard can end up looking tacky, or like you’re auditioning for Joan Collins’ role in Dynasty.

Theresa May has become well-known for her leopard pumps (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Theresa May has become well-known for her leopard pumps (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

And a final word of advice: Steer clear of leopard print kitten heels unless you want to end up looking like Theresa May.

Low tier: Tiger print

Trying to look too much like tiger print doesn’t always work so well (Ian West/PA)
Trying to look too much like tiger print doesn’t always work so well (Ian West/PA)

Tiger print finds itself in a similar dilemma. It can very easily look rather chintzy. If you want to tackle this print, we recommend using a backdrop of unusual and non-tigerish colours, like greens or blues, because then it just looks like a jazzy geometric pattern.

Tiger print with an unusual colour can work really well, as on Mollie King (Ian West/PA)
Tiger print with an unusual colour can work really well, as on Mollie King (Ian West/PA)

Bad tier: Snakeskin

David Beckham rocks a snakeskin jacket in 2000 (Toby Melville/PA)
David Beckham rocks a snakeskin jacket in 2000 (Toby Melville/PA)

We hate to break it to you, but snakeskin is really the worst of all the animal prints. Everything about it – from the texture to the colour – is off, and we find it hard not to look at the pattern and feel uncomfortable.

Yes, that is Amanda Holden wearing a snakeskin corset with a matching choker… (Toby Melville/PA)
Yes, that is Amanda Holden wearing a snakeskin corset with a matching choker… (Toby Melville/PA)

When it comes to prints, it really seems like the simpler options are the most effective. Snakeskin has just too much going on.

Maybe it’s because snakeskin was really popular in the Nineties and Noughties, but there’s something about it which feels really dated now. Who knows, maybe it’s due a fashionable update sometime soon?

Miscellaneous tier: Zebra print

Is Joanna Lumley the only person who can pull off zebra print? (Yui Mok/PA)
Is Joanna Lumley the only person who can pull off zebra print? (Yui Mok/PA)

It might shock you to learn, but we have no real opinions on zebra print. It’s something you rarely see, so it’s hard to know whether it can be pulled off or not.

Even though it’s not exactly the most ubiquitous of prints, what we do know is Joanna Lumley looks cracking in it. Maybe she’s the only one who should be allowed to wear it?

- Press Association

More on this topic

Man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over Emiliano Sala death

Corruption in firms most commonly found out by chance

Christy Moore opens up about his drug addiction in new campaign video

Two children with complex needs to receive schooling in July as court actions settled

More in this Section

Pauline McLynn shines in creative homecoming for Enda Walsh's The Small Things

Double act: Why talking to your baby is essential

Ask a counsellor: ‘My mother’s become so high maintenance since moving closer – what should I do?’

Victoria Pendleton on veganism and why she thinks everyone should eat less meat


Latest Showbiz

Lord Alan Sugar: I’ve only ever changed two or three nappies

Olivia Newton-John’s leather outfit from Grease to go under the hammer

Christy Moore opens up about his drug addiction in new campaign video

Tiffany Haddish cancels show in US state over anti-abortion legislation

More From The Irish Examiner