Animal prints are always elegant

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Embracing the classic chic of a leopard-print skirt 

Recessionary times call for smart shopping. That’s one reason I think you should be looking for animal prints the next time you head to the mall. Choose your species: Leopard, zebra, giraffe and reptillian, too, they’re all fantastic for mixing and matching in your wardrobe. The secret is to wear one one patterned item at a time. If you throw a few on together (and you’re under-40), you risk a fashion accident, or (if you’re over 40) you can come dangerously close to cougar territory. And noone wants to look like they’re trying that hard.

A sexy pair of python heels or a cheetah-patterned ponyhair coat: Both are excellent options, elegant and timeless. My latest find is Tahari’s leopard pencil skirt at the Bay (see below). It hits stores later this month.

Let me list the countless ways that it can work for you:

1. Worn with a black T-shirt, jean jacket, black opaque tights and black heels or black flats for causal fridays at work.

2. Worn with a black tee or fine-guage sweater, a trim and waist-nipping black blazer and high-heeled pumps for a hip, corporate look.

3. Worn with a crisp white shirt, wide black belt and dressy boots when you don’t feel like wearing a suit.

4. Worn with a white T-shirt and tan-coloured flat leather sandals for an al fresco summer dinner. If you’ve got even more fashion personality that needs to be expressed, throw on a big pashmina-style wrap in an electric colour like fuchsia or lemon yellow. You’ll look absolutely wow.

5. Worn with a camel, grey, black or white twinset with coordinating or black slingbacks for a new take on an iconic feminine, ’50s look.

6. Worn with a lightweight chino-hued trenchcoat (either cropped just to the hip or at the knee) with like-coloured heels for a safari-inspired option.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point re: versatility.

Deborah Fulsang

Leopard-print skirt, Tahari at the Bay, $128.