Leopards and Tigers and Croc, Oh My!: Lucky's All-In Guide To Animal Prints

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So you're excited to add some animal prints into your wardrobe this season—but do you really know your spots from your stripes from your scales? Click through to learn about (and shop!) some of the fashion industry's favorite critter patterns, from leopard and tiger to cow and croc. And don't worry—no actual endangered species were harmed in the making of this story!


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Leopard

Arguably the most classic and popular animal print around, leopard is now considered a neutral by most members of the fashion industry—and for good reason! Its simple brown-and-black palette means it pairs beautifully with neutrals and bold hues alike—and even with other, simpler patterns, like stripes and windowpane checks. Click through to shop our favorite leopard-print pieces.
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Cheetah

While many retailers tend to use the words "leopard" and "cheetah" interchangeably, they're pretty distinctly different. While leopard print's characterized by open spots that resemble horseshoes or even individual rings of dots (called "rosettes"), each filled with a deeper brown color, cheetahs are covered with solid black spots that tend to be evenly spaced. Click through to shop our favorite cheetah-print pieces.
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Jaguar

Jaguar spots are even more complex. While they resemble leopard markings in many ways, they're larger, more open and frequently contain groupings of smaller black dots—sort of like leopard on steroids! Click through to shop our favorite jaguar-print pieces.
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Ocelot

Yet another big cat beloved by the fashion world but not always properly credited, the ocelot features spots similar to the leopard's, but elongated in shape. Some ocelot markings are so stretched out, in fact, that they almost look like stripes! Click through to shop our favorite ocelot-print pieces.
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Tiger

Finally, a tiger print is easily identified by its—you guessed it!—stripes. As Tony, the famous Frosted Flakes mascot, might say: they're grrreat! Click through to shop our favorite tiger-print pieces.
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Giraffe

A giraffe's coat features large, multi-sided dark spots separated by thin white or pale beige lines. Fun fact: Much like fingerprints, each giraffe has his or her own unique spot pattern, and no two animals share identical coats. Click through to shop our favorite giraffe-print pieces.
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Zebra

Black and white, of course, matches everything—a fact that makes this animal's signature stripes supremely easy to work into your wardrobe. Click through to shop our favorite zebra-print pieces.
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Deer

While deer spots pop up on clothing far less frequently than, say, leopard print or tiger stripes, that's no reason to avoid trying them on for size. Thanks in large part to Carven designer Guillaume Henry, who worked the brown-and-white print into his Fall 2013 collection, Bambi spots are looking chicer than ever right now. Click through to shop our favorite deer-print pieces.
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Dalmatian

This is perhaps the one time it's OK to take your style cues from Cruella de Vil—and don't worry, no actual puppies were harmed in the making of these items. Click through to shop our favorite Dalmatian-print pieces.
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Cow

Whether bovine spots remind you of childhood trips to your local ice cream shop, verses of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" or that weird cowhide rug your grandparents used to own, they're certainly more nostalgic than most animal prints—and well worth revisiting. Click through to shop our favorite cow-print pieces.
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Crocodile

Moving on to the reptile family, we might as well start with the most luxurious of the cold-blooded creatures. Real crocodile bags and shoes will set you back thousands (and isn't very kind to animals, obviously)—but croc-embossed pieces? Now those we can fully support. Click through to shop our favorite croc-print pieces.
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Snake

Inherently sexy and perpetually in style, python scales pack a major graphic punch despite their naturally muted color palette. Try them on shoes, bags and party dresses for an instant dash of retro glamour. Click through to shop our favorite snake-print pieces.
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Lizard

Sort of like snakeskin on a shrunken scale, lizard spots—most frequently seen on accessories—are marked by tiny scales that add up to one big textural punch. Click through to shop our favorite lizard-print pieces.
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Senior Digital Editor

By all accounts, animal prints have evolved past the point of being a trend; today, they're year-round wardrobe essentials. But do you really know your spots from your stripes from your scales? Surprisingly, even some of today's top designers tend to mess up when labeling their wildlife-inspired pieces—particularly those that draw inspiration from big cats' beautiful coats. As is turns out, however, leopard, ocelot, jaguar and cheetah all look pretty different from one another!

Excited to add some animal prints into your wardrobe this season, but not sure where to start (or where to go past your basic leopard spots)? Fear not! Above, I've compiled a handful of the fashion industry's favorite critter patterns and explained exactly what makes each one stand out—and, of course, provided some shoppable options for each. Click through above for a whole menagerie's worth of wild animal prints, from leopard and tiger to cow and croc. And don't worry—no actual endangered species were harmed in the making of this story!

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