How to Style Leopard Print Denim



Pulling off leopard print pants comes down a lot to attitude, especially if you live in a town where trends are slow.  I either A.) Sport a disdainful look that says, "Yes. Yes, I am wearing leopard print pants. What of it?" as pictured above, or B.) When I pick my kiddo up from school or stop to gas up, I pretend that I’m simply wearing khakis.  Boring, lame khakis.  And as it turns out, leopard print pants do actually function in much the same way.  Except the boring part.  So if this is a trend you want to try, muster up your best game face and read on.

Case-in-point, here's an excerpt from my text to S. a few weeks ago when my head wasn't in the leopard print pants game:

Q: Does a 3X-year-old mother of three have any business wearing leopard print pants? Not sure whether I’m too old or too young to pull them off. 

S. texted snapshots of printed denim with styling suggestions, and I tried.  I really tried.  But something wasn’t. . . quite. . . working. 

Could it have been the fact that I was 5 weeks postpartum?  I mean really, who buys leopard print denim at five weeks postpartum?  Seriously ill-advised, mamas.  I repeat: ill-advised.  But I still think it was more about my confidence level in wearing such a bold trend.

Fast forward to my next leopard print denim-related text:

Me: The C/Es went back.

S: Already?!

Me: Yes.  I feel old and disappointed and defeated.

The phone rang. . .

S. talked me back up, like only a true friend could, the old fashioned way, in a real time, non-text convo.  Heartened, I re-ordered Current/Elliott “The Stiletto” jeans in camel leopard wash.  They arrived at eight weeks postpartum, which is actually A LOT better than five weeks postpartum (or was it S.'s pep talk?!), and I set about trying to style them with pieces from my current wardrobe.   It turns out I love them.  Love love them.

Leopard print pant love aside, since the C/Es definitely qualify as an investment piece, I wanted to make sure I could get at least five different outfits out of them through at least three seasons.  If I can wear them, on average, every-other week year-round, their cost per wear (CPW) goes down to under $8, 35% less than my usual Target purchase CPW ($24.99/2 wears = $12.50 + tax).  I’m pretty confident with this level of wear since my J Brand Houlihan splurge is still going strong a year-and-a-half later with no end in sight.  I love those babies so much I squeezed into them several weeks into my second trimester, strapped down my Belly Bandit and Shrinkx Hips extra tight so I could get back into them ASAP (yes, I used both—I figured it was my last, best chance at getting back to my pre-three-pregnancies-ago bod), and often wear them more than once a week.

Styling Leopard Printed Pants
Predictably, fairly tame tops, minimal accessories and neutral shoes work great and will probably be more comfortable for most people (like me) just starting out with leopard print pants.  Unless, you know, you’re going in either the Bocca or Babe direction.  I’m trying to walk the 3X-year-old-mother-of-three line.  Not too young.  Not too old.  I like to think of my age as juuuust right, even though I won't tell you exactly what it is.


I’m really loving the chambray blouse with the leopard print, in part because there’s better contrast and it’s still simple, but also because I find chambray shirts annoyingly difficult to style on 5 hours of sleep when lunch needs to be packed and tiny people ushered out the door–I usually just give up before I've even started. 


Textured, drapey, tonal sweaters are an easy win with leopard print denim and skin tone platforms are perfecto for a girls night out. 

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It might be hard to see in the photo, but the Gap cowlneck sweater has a great nubby texture that really works well with the the leopard spots.

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A simple white button down and t-shirts with sandals will be my go-to pieces as the weather warms up.

Mixing Florals, Stripes and Animal Prints
BUT, if you’re in the mood for a bit of print mixing, I did find a few items in my closet that worked pretty well. 


I’m not sure it’ll be as reached-for as the more basic pieces, but I do especially love the Bailey 44 striped drape-front top (a $15 consignment store score I loved during the warmer months of my last pregnancy—it snapped right back into shape afterwards and drapes nicely over the postpartum pooch, not to mention the hella-easy nursing factor).


The key here is to work with the same color tones.  Both the floral t-shirt/waterfall cardi and the Bailey 44 striped top are warm neutrals.


This Jason Wu for Target heathered gray t-shirt with trompe l’oeil lace detail works on the same theme as it ties into the grays and blacks of the leopard print.  I'm not sure where I'd go in this getup.  Maybe the Union Square Farmers Market?  Oh. Right. I don't live there any more. . .  But I thought I'd give a kickier look a try (you're welcome : ).

What do you think, Mamas?  Is this trend too young, a way to freshen up the same ‘ole mom uniform, another ploy to keep the uber-flattering skinny denim trend alive and kicking?  Tell us whether you’re hopping on the the printed denim bandwagon and how or why not!

– M.




  1. I bought the Target ones in grey and love them! I’m…ahem…40… & a mother of 3, and try to keep a youthful-yet-appropriate style. I wore them on an airplane with a black dolman sleeve top and my Rachel Comey Mars booties (my winter splurge that has totally paid off!). I also wore them with a white T and flip-flops while on my trip. I am looking forward to pairing them with a bright pink top for a pop of color and I’m also going to try some of the looks you have here–love the chambray shirt! I like that they are more of a muted leopard (as are yours) so they don’t SCREAM leopard! Thanks for the styling ideas! You rock them!

  2. Mol, I am cracking up over here!! You rocked it, totally rocked it. No Bocca. No no no. I love all of the looks, but am shocked by how much I like the union sq market getup! But the chambray is pretty genius. Somehow makes them…..tame? But in the coolest possible way?

  3. I started reading this post thinking, “cute, but not for me”. Then I got to that last photo. Now I need a pair! Another awesome post. Thanks!!

  4. I don’t know what it is, but I’m not a fan. Maybe it is the color being close to a skin tone? Regardless, you look hot!

  5. I’m totally with Rebecca on the skin tone, but I feel the same about khakis. Like “yes, I am wearing pants, I know it doesn’t look like it because my skin tone is the same color…”
    But here’s what’s killing me, you’ve had 3 kids and you look incredible! What’s your secret, good genes, lipo, actually eating healthy???? Whatever it is it’s working.

  6. I am going to add to the accolades – you look AMAZING!!! Forget amazing after having 3 kids – you look amazing period!
    I love the second look (where did you get the sweater and the platforms?) and the last one – I have visited the Union Square Farmers Market so perhaps that is why that look won me over as well.
    Great post as always – and you rock the look!

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