Wardrobing: The secret to looking good in leopard print

If you want to wear animal print, don’t let age nor Bet Lynch hold you back

Bet Lynch: you can print that

Q I love leopard print but I'm afraid that wearing it will make me look like Bet Lynch, the woman of my childhood nightmares. Help. Mary, Wexford

A The fact that you can clearly remember Bet Lynch, the brassy, animal-print-loving bartender from The Rovers Return, means you are no longer young enough to pull off animal print with innocent, Lolita-ish irony. This is a good thing.

Suffice to say, you should not let age nor Bet Lynch hold you back. There are worse style icons. You could look like sad, droopy Betty, slaving over a hot pot in a functional blouse.

My mother texted me yesterday to tell me she had bought her first pair of skinny jeans. I was as proud of her as I would be proud of my first-born learning to cycle. As a child sheds her stabilisers, so my mother shed her deeply unflattering bootcuts (sorry, Mum: you are a beautiful, strong woman, but we have to burn those things). She is living proof that, with a healthy attitude to your wardrobe, the best age to try something new is whatever age you are right now.


The concrete rule for relatively subtle animal-print dressing is to wear just one piece and keep the rest of your outfit relatively understated.

These Zara booties would look great with cropped trousers or rolled-up boyfriend jeans. This Vivienne Westwood top is as muted as leopard print gets. It's important not to wear anything too tight. Ultimately, it wasn't leopard that proved to be Bet's style downfall, but Lycra. This jacquard sweat from Topshop is tightly wound in print, but perfectly relaxed in silhouette.

(Topshop jacquard sweat, 485; boots from Zara, €89.95; Vivienne Westwood Anglomania draped top, €420)

Email your wardrobe woes to wardrobing@irishtimes.com