Do you wear animal?

I, for one, am happy to wear fur – especially rabbit which is lovely and soft. I enjoy eating rabbit too, and although I like to see little bunnies running around in the country I do not feel there is any, in principle, difference between leather, sheepskin and fur. On the other hand giraffe fur, zebra or leopard is neither widely available and probably protected so you won’t be seeing it used in my dressmaking projects. However there is something very compelling about the patterning on wild animals that textile designers have captured again and again. Usually we find in nature the most wonderful, harmonious colour palettes, gorgeous colour graduation, markings which increase and decrease in scale (depending on where on the body they are).

As well as looking lovely these animals are well camouflaged which helps them to hunt effectively, or protect them from predators.

The advantages of natural skins and furs are

  • they are strong and weather resistant, which is why they composed mankinds first clothes and adornment
  • fur reflect light and will enhance your skin. This is really why women (when it wasn’t politically confused) used to demand “a mink coat”.
  • they tend to work well with both neutrals and colours making them a good wardrobe staple – shoes, belts and handbags are almost always in fashion.

Much more affordable, and available today, is the animal print. Here are a few style suggestions:

Firstly get the colour right. Just as with your primary colour direction, there are patterns which fit the same set of definitions. There are animal prints which are deep, and others which are light, those with cool undertones, and others which are warm. There are brighter designs, and designs which are muted. Choose an animal print which co-ordinates with your natural colouring. But, in general most natural colouring in wild animals is yellowy and warm so watch out if you have a cool palette.

Secondly get the scale  right. If you are petite stick to a small pattern, like a snake skin or a small leopard type print. Larger women can get away with a large pattern which will look better – the tiger and bigger giraffe patterns perhaps. And also take care where you wear it. Alot of it – a coat, dress or trousers will make a big statement – ideal if you have a dramatic personality. But if you are more a classic dresser, for example, it might be better to have use it as just one, retrained wardrobe item.

For many of us it might be better to stick to details – a scarf, handbag or shoes. Here are some nice accessories that would look especially beautiful on people with warmer colouring.


The fabric chosen for me by Demented Fairy includes white (much whiter than is shown here), black and blue, so a cool, bright colourway. The scale is medium, so suitable for someone my height and build. And I could use it on either the upper or lower half, but I have decided to make an all in one jumpsuit, as I find bolder patterns work better on me when I use them head to toe.

blue animal print
Present from a Demented Fairy

11 Responses

  1. chezsews

    I like the traditional animal prints on others, but feel the browns and yellows of the more popular animal prints are not my best look. However, I love the kaleidoscope of colours and coats animal have, often feeling a bit jealous in my dull skin. Sewing a ‘jumpsuit’ from the blue/black leopard print is a great idea, definitely not dressing like a dinosaur.

  2. Bunny

    I like animal prints but the warm tones of most keep me away. An occasional zebra has slipped into my wardrobe and worked well. Then again, I love the graphic effect of black and white in any form. I just was gifted some exquisite fur which I think is fox and am waiting for the right idea to hit. Time will tell.

  3. helen

    We’ve been talking about this in the office lately, a guy has a fantastic parka on the back of his chair and every time I go past I want to stroke it, I finally asked if the fur was real and it is coyote (and a got a stroke of it as well).
    I can see your point about how some furs are no different from leather and sheepskin but I’m not sure if I’m quite ready yet which I suppose is a bit hypocritical of me!

  4. Stephanie

    I think I might have to admit that I am a bit too conservative for animal print, though I your cool blue one is striking. (Realizing this makes me want to give Jungle January a try next year!) I think the problem may be that when animal print turns up on clothing it is often on low-quality fabrics and garments and so perhaps that has tainted my impression of it. I like the gloves above and I’ve seen very nice ballet flats and purses in similar prints.

  5. Joyce

    I have no animal print in my wardrobe……another idea inspired by you Kate! well, actually my pj pattern is very animal like. I must send you a photograph. NO…I do not have an embroidery machine, I am doing it by hand, as I really enjoy handwork…something to pick up and put down throughout the more relaxing moments of the day and evening.
    Today……..I’m cutting!!!
    As far as fur goes………… I love it. even a little rabbit fur on my gloves makes me feel a tiny bit of pleasure. I have thrifted a grey fur shoulder wrap. I removed the overly sparkly trim…and sometimes where it to watch an at home Movie. There is a hand sewn label inside at the neck that reads “Bobby Bloom” (machine embroidered) and a person’s name embroidered inside on the lower front (“Marion H”…and one more rather large patch which reads “Countess Chinchilla”.
    oh, now that I think of it, I do have a animal print fake fur 3/4 length sleeve ———- Photographs on their way sometime today Kate.
    I cannot wait to see the jumpsuit done. You will be having the most fun……….no doubt in my mind. (I am a little worried about the upside down print…….fingers crossed!)

  6. Demented Fairy

    Great stuff as ever- I’ll be sewing at least 2 of my ‘Jungle Collection’ up tonight [she says] How exciting!

    • fabrickated

      Sits, slowing hand-stitching unsuitable and non-matching buttons onto jumpsuit. DF is making “at least two” items a night. Maybe three! Maybe more!! She is the Queen of the Jungle, (thumps chest, artfully arranged in jungle bra), the Jungle VIP!

    • fabrickated

      I am done, and will post tomorrow.

      Can I have the exclusive on your collection please Auntie Fairy? Pictures, problems, poses? Just the thing I love to feature on this blog (I can supply a few questions if you like).

  7. ejvc

    No, don’t wear fur, except the fur of prey animals (e.g. rabbits, sheep). The others are rare enough that I don’t want to contribute to their marginal existence, and I don’t like the idea of those kind of animals penned up for slaughter. It’s not as if anyone is eating coyote or weasel meat.

    Also, but not for the same reason, don’t wear animal prints – they are too dramatic for my taste. But I’m glad they are available.

    • the coatcheck tales

      I was reading all these comments and wanted to find someone like you.
      I’m all for wearing animal prints if you like, I personally don;t like prints in general.
      As EJVC says, it is OK to wear leather that comes from animals that we eat, but either way, meat and leather “harvesting” implies so much cruelty and sadness. I;m not judging anyone’s morals. I just appeal to your kindness and COMPASSION for all living creatures. xoxo
      PS/ I posted in my blog about it a while ago

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