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Dec 19, 2010

Leopard print for men -- yea or nay?

PLEASE NOTE: No actual leopards were harmed in the writing of this blog entry. 

I mentioned yesterday that I'd swung by the new Fashion Institute of Technology museum exhibit, "His & Hers," which deals with the way clothing is "gendered" -- i.e., certain garments signifying masculine or feminine -- and how this gendering often changes over time and across cultures (Think pink or power suits or skirts on men, etc.)

And it got me thinking about animal prints, and even more specifically, about leopard, which has been something of a craze this season -- for women.

Then I saw these pants and I decided I wouldn't mind making a pair myself -- in fact I intend to!

Wise readers, what is it about leopard that makes it provocative if not outright taboo for a man?  Or do you even believe it is?

Why do you rarely see men in animal prints, but something that's not so far away from leopard, say, camouflage, seems completely masculine?

Reminder: real leopards are pretty fierce-looking.

In mainstream pop culture, leopard is for women -- sexy young women.  Leopard looked great on Marilyn.





And Ann Margret.  (Are you wrapping your gifts in a leopard jumpsuit?  Why not!)

On men, however, it nearly always is relegated to slightly naughty bedroom attire.


Rock stars.

Or parody (a la Bruno).

Readers, I ask you.  Does the man in your life wear leopard?  If so, where?  If he doesn't wear leopard, would you like him to?

Men, do you wear leopard?  Would you never be caught dead in it -- or rather, would it never be caught dead on you?  Of course we're talking FAUX leopard!  No real fur on MPB!

Why makes leopard sexy?  What makes it feminine? 

Should men stay away from all animal prints?

Jump in!

UPDATE (11:20 am EST): The deed is done -- GRRRRROWL!   Two-and-a-half yards of cotton velvet.


  1. I'm not a fan. Neither male or female should wear faux of anything leopard. Remember Pebbles and BamBam or Betty and Wilma? Fred and Barney didn't look so cool in it either. I say if you're going to do something like that, at the very least construct a garment that does justice to the leopard's integrity for Pete's sake. Keep it classy, Male Pattern Boldness, Man. I'm a huge fan of yours.

  2. I think pants would look GREAT, Peter!! I'm seeing more pow pastels and florals in men's RTW. Thoughts, they are a-changin' ;) Growl!! Go for it ;)
    Rhonda in Montreal

  3. I'm sorry to be sexist but I just can't get with leopard on men - unless said men are serious rocker bad asses (generally with coke habits that give them mega-stamina in the sack). Maybe I should have kept that to my inside voice...

  4. I'm not sure about men. Or women, for that matter, although the above photo shows exactly what I chose to wear while wrapping presents this year. I would not wear it out of the house. However, it looks adorable on those under the age of five.

  5. I'm with Rhoto. YES! YES! YES! Long ago (think Danceteria/Mudd Club heydey), I repurposed a leopard print house dress bought at a flea market into a slinky, button-up-the-back nightclub dress. I used the extra to replace the collar and cuffs of a black shirt for the guy who's now my husband. Looked great with his black jeans and doc martens. I still have them tucked away in a box somewhere. So, yes, faux leopard for all. Have you bought the fabric already . . . what kind is it? or what are you planning to buy?

  6. I'm going for it! I hope to pick it up today if possible. Stay tuned!

  7. I think it can be HOT! But it depends on the man of course, like all things. For you, go for it!

  8. I like leopard in small doses, whether on men or women.

    My boyfriend hates leopard on both men AND women; it reminds him of hair bands.

    My instincts tell me that you will be completely awesome in leopard pants. "Awesome" in the classical, awe-inspiring sense. Hey, you advertise "boldness," and you don't disappoint.

  9. I would love to say yes and I can't wait to see your version

  10. It is for no person--men, women, unicyclers, circus people or children. I'm not interested in animal prints. Though, I did see a toddler wearing an adorable zebra hat once. it looked like this, except with zebra stripes.

  11. Thanks for no real fur on MPB!

    I never know with leopard prints... I don't like them on women in general... you almost convinced me up there with your pics and the way you write these articles so convincing - that I have no problem whatsoever with leopard print! But now I'm back to no-leopard-print's land!:D

    I would want the man in my life to try some leopard print..I have no idea if I would like it, if not at least it would make a good laugh!

    The day I wear leopard and like it will be the day I make peace with it... I must say leopards look amazing in leopard print! For ppl I like panther print!

  12. I don't like animal prints. So often they go hand-in-hand with tacky clothes that the connotation remains. And since the lady who crashed into us yesterday was wearing a leopard print trench, (we're fine... if a little sore, but the car is totaled) I have a special venom reserved for it at the moment!

  13. I have full faith you can pull it off, Peter. I'll second the suggestion of using leopard print as lapels and cuffs for a bold blazer.

    ... and nothing wrong with being reminded of hair bands! ;)

  14. I'm in the "no animal prints for anyone" camp. I think in the vast majority of cases they just look tacky. I've seen it look passable in small doses and on just the right person, but I'd much prefer not to see it used at all. That said, I think you are that right person who could totally rock those pants!

  15. Personally I like animal prints! And I believe in equality - animal prints for anyone who wants them is my view! So, go for it. I think your leopard pants are going to look fierce (in a good way)!

  16. Alright, update: I don't mean to spoil your enthusiasm! I am very curious how your project will turn out and I think I'll make a note for myself: to make something with leopard print and LIKE it! There's no other way to get peace, as this leopard print just doesn't seem to completely go out of fashion! :P

  17. Oh you know, the first time you posted that picture of the guy on the chair, i didn't even register the leopard-print pants? Now, why was that? Wear whatever you want!


  18. Every time I see leopard, I think of a pair of flannel lounge pants I bought about 11 years ago. When I was pregnant with my first child in 2000, I was wearing the pants when I took my first pregnant belly pic. I wore them again a month later for a pic, and so forth. I have pictures of me wearing those silly pants with various sizes of baby belly over the course of 4 pregnancies - right up to the night before my last child was born. When I saw the picture of the dude in the leopard pants, that was the first image that came to my mind...

  19. Can't wait!!
    Of course men can wear leopard. But not all men, you still need kind of a rock star attitude. Prince, or better yet John Waters. We don't think you're that dull, go for it!

  20. "No actual leopards were harmed in the writing of this blog entry."

    But some may have been seriously humiliated. ;-)

    Seriously, go for it. I say you have the tush to wear them well.

  21. Leopard for all! I wear a 2 piece lead "apron" for work. I was allowed to pick my own pattern, so, yes, it's leopard! The patients love it.


  22. Leopard on my husband. No way.
    Leopard on Male Pattern BOLDness? Absolutely!

  23. only in small doses, please.

  24. Peter, I'm surprised at how many people don't like the thought of leopard on guys!
    This is where the stereotype of men wearing certain things & women wearing others comes from, people rigidly sticking to their idea of "that's what I'm use to".
    It takes those few daring individuals to start wearing things that are not considered 'the norm' to get the trend going. (I'll bet if Brad Pitt (or some other hunky movie star) started wearing leopard, then suddenly it would be all the rage!)
    I personally think that if you love the look of leopard (or anything else for that matter), then just go for it, man, woman or child!
    If you feel good in what you wear, it will look fantastic, regardless of whether its 'the norm' or not. (YOU may be the new trend-setter!)
    So bring on the leopard jeans, pants, jeggings or whatever it is you plan to make with that gorgeous fabric, I can't wait to see the end result!

  25. Animal prints whether on men or women will need to be done tastefully.

    I think a lot rides on the quality (realistic look) of the print. The scale is important too. And how much of your body is covered in print.

    Also I think for it to be tasteful, it must be constructed expertly otherwise it will quickly be dismissed to the tacky category by everybody.

    You want somebody to see your leopard pants and THINK you actually bought the D&G version, not the Lip Service version.

  26. I love leopard print on most people. Not all men can wear it, but you can! Please, please make these pants. You will look incredible in them. What a perfect New York outfit, leopard pants, simple black long sleeve tshirt, fantastic but simple shoes and a black coat over the top. Wait - I want that outfit, too!

  27. Well if it's a done deed then so be it, but I seem to recall yardage of python and look what became of that.

  28. I have a hard time picturing men wearing leopard print unless they are on stage, rocking hard. I am curious to see how your pants turn out. Maybe you have a rocker deep in your soul?

  29. I don't really like leopard print on anyone except super-fabulous bon vivant women of a certain age. (leopard for young women? I'm sorry, on what planet?) I'm not the biggest fan of camo, either.

    That said, I'm a pretty big advocate of loving everything you wear and taking chances with your personal style. Just know if I pass you in the street and you're wearing those pants, I'll raise one eyebrow and give you the critical once-over.

    But I least I would have noticed, right? :)

  30. Only Bruno can get away with it on a man. Silver screen stars of yesteryear looked good.
    Nowdays it just looks tacky. Like a bedspread or throw cushion in leopard/ tiger print. I think the look is dead in the water- a thing of the past- leave it there! (along with ivory)

  31. I have long been in the 'no-one, no way, no how' camp about leopard print. Tacky, tacky, tacky. However recently I was given some on mid-weight canvas/linen (?) and finally figured maybe I could make some cute skinny pants for my 3y.o. boy out of it. No-one could imagine that was a serious attempt at fashion. Having come to terms with that, yes, I think I can see you in leopard pants, if they're skinny and rock-star-ish enough. Looking forward to it.

  32. My husband had a 'smoking' (he didn't smoke) jacket, dark purple satin with leopard fur cuffs and collar. It was a great jacket! The entire work team ended having them made. That was over a decade ago, and the gauntlet has now been passed on to our youngest son. You can't not smile when you see it on, and the wearer can't help but say "Heeeeeyyyyyy" with a cheezy grin, finger pistols in the air, and a hip shake going on. Fierce? Not so much.... Sweet as pie? Absolutely.

  33. Wear it with pride- I have no doubt you will rock that look

  34. My man won't even wear checks (plaid). He thinks he's being brave when he wears a stripe. There's nothing bold about his male patterns!

  35. Peter, you have the body and smile to get away with leopard-print. On the whole though I'm in the no-animal-prints camp. That is probably because the people that wear them here are what I would call "flashy-trashy".
    I am willing to be turned if someone can produce a stylish version of an animal-print outfit.

  36. Delish! I can't wait to see you in your leopard print skinny jeans! :D

  37. I'll bet some of those "I wouldn't want MY husband/boyfriend wearing that" wear pants or have butch short haircuts (because they're "easier" or "cute") and would bristle if their husband/boyfriend told them they couldn't wear it.

    I get really annoyed at how much leeway is given women in this society - esp in clothes and appearance and men are shackled. And don't give me the line that men "want " it that way.

    Sadly, most men are unconsciously the frighterned, mindless robots our homophobic society has made them.

  38. Where did you buy that leopard print cotton velvet? Please leave some for me! My office is right in the Garment District.

    If it's got lycra stretch, you can make yourself leopard leggings. I bought myself a Liz Claiborne leopard print corduroy skirt years ago on sale. I bet Cathy would like a luscious leopard velvet skirt. Too bad the Korova Milk Bar closed. Is it wrong to think leopard + milky cocktail = fun times?

  39. Catherine, H&M Fabrics at 248 West 35th St.

    It's toward the front of the store where they have other velvets. It's cotton velvet leopard print.

    I paid $7 a yard -- don't let them charge you more!

  40. I am getting ready to make a cotton velvet leopard print jacket for my 12-yr old daughter. It looks like we'll be sewing leopard print velvet simultaneously! That's kind of eery.

    I think I hear the theme for the Twilight Zone playing.

    Cadienne in Louisiana

  41. Hubby hates any small repeating pattern, it does something to his eyes he says.

    Everyone should wear clothes that make them happy, that attitude does more for the wearer than any particular style or pattern.

    *goes back to practicing using her hemmer, making hankies*

  42. Leopard print on my guy? It's not really his thing, as he's rather conservative in colour, print and style.

    I say if you're feeling it, go for it! You need a certain kind of confidence (lots!) to rock leopard print, that goes for men AND women. Fun!

  43. My boyfriend has no interest in wearing leopard himself but he really wants me to wear it. He comments every time we see something leopard print and has hinted that it would redound to my benefit were I to don such a thing. I've never been an animal print person, but now I have been looking for a leopard knit print for a year and can't find any that I like! If you come across something suitable in your leopard-trolling, please let me know.

  44. Go for it , I have a pair of Roberto Cavalli cheetah print jeans acquired at a vintage Flea market in Florence Italy, They still the tags on them and had never been worn. my travel companions (who are very conservative) didn't hesitate to convince me that they were meant for me. They are perfect under a black t-shirt

    Although there are limited times to wear them( i live in South Dakota) they travel with me to many places and never fail to make a statement.

    I would so wear that jacket, and actually have a length of fabric intended exactly for a blazer like that. Now all i need is to drag it out and get sewing over the weekend, so i can rock the NYE party in a cool jacket. it is a great alternative to a dinner jacket or blazer.
    Good luck and enjoy the journey!

  45. Just got my leopard print shirt from Topman and it looks fierce! Of course it's all about how you style it and what you wear it with but generally i am appalled that some people are so backwards and sexists in their views! BOTH men and women should wear whatever they want without society telling us what's masculine and what's feminine! It's all fashion !

  46. I wear animal print l,eopard print I got from goodwill in McHenry county , Illinois ,nunda township, northwest suburbs, Chicagoland northeast Illinois .I wear animal print, leopard print fuzzy pajama pants .Men should wear animal print ,leopard print too. Women should not have a monploy on animal print, leopard print .


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