As I’ve mentioned, probably more than once, this season is all about the classics. And that means: if ever there was an abundance of great fashion for the over-40 woman, it’s here and now. So many collections feature beautifully tailored, useful pieces that are timeless investments. As Daniela Agnelli, Style Director for the London Telegraph Magazine pronounced: “Fall 2010 is all about a proud and confident woman; the clothes are really wearable and easy to translate from the catwalk into a real life.”

Finally! And how to put a little fun into the mix of classic neutrals? The hot accent this season is leopard.

Now, it’s not as if leopard had ever fallen out of favor. But as Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz declared, it’s time to “take all these animal prints out of the jungle and into the city.”

The leader of the pack, in terms of extravagance, has to be this Balmain chain-embellished calf hair coat, which at over $20,000 is already out of stock. (Maybe it’s true that the luxury market is making a comeback.)

For the rest of us, though, no worries: there are many more financially feasible ways of seeing spots this season. As with camel, one of the most obvious is with outerwear. Many of us may initially fear this option as too bold a statement. But take a look at how effectively these designers have envisioned it.

One of my favorite designers, Phillip Lim, created this leopard print fur coat for his 3.1 line. While still a splurge item, it’s a mere fraction of the Balmain and is an elegant, timeless design that will look as good in two decades as it does today. Leopard may be the hot pattern this season, but it still qualifies as classic. Years from now, you or you daughter will be happy to pull this coat out of the closet again. 

Tory Burch’s slightly retro, leopard-print rabbit jacket is a fun luxe version that would look fabulous over your favorite little black dress. And Dries Van Noten’s rabbit fur gilet was so popular, it sold out in no time.

Adrienne Landau’s leopard printed rabbit vest, at a reasonable $350, would look fabulous over a thick turtleneck on a chilly day. For those of us who are non-fur buyers, Kate Spade’s adorable Galleria Lynda Fur Chubbie offers the same look in velvety faux fur. The cropped length and ¾-length sleeves ensure that it will look equally chic over a dress, as shown here, or over straight black slacks for that more casual Audrey-inspired look. But my favorite leopard outerwear piece is this fabulous velvet coat from Talbots. At $209.25, it can’t be beat. Talbots has made a huge push to reinvent itself, and now boasts many truly stylish pieces. If you prefer to wear your spots closer to the skin, dresses are a great option. From high to low price points, there are many choices. This subtly shaded Lanvin example is so elegant and flattering with its hint of ruching. And with the new Lanvin collection for H&M, I’m sure there will be leopard choices at throwaway price points. This Moschino Cheap and Chic option hits the spots in a black and gray palette, for a more monochromatic effect.
Leopard is never out of favor at either Dolce and Gabbana  left) or Roberto Cavalli (right), both of whom frequently incorporate it into their collections. And again from Talbots, at a very reasonable $179, is this chic and simple dress. Very “Mad Men,” don’t you think? I’m confident that all of us own at least one black skirt or pair of pants, which would pair well with either of these tops. The more tailored St. John (below left) would even work beautifully with a black suit; the blousier version by Nanette Lepore (below right) would be lovely with wide-leg velvet or silk pants for an at-home holiday party.
And of course, the easiest way to add zip to a wardrobe is always accessories. Lucky for us, leopard abounds in this category. Take a look at the shoe and boot offerings below. As always, there’s a range of styles this season, from the very fashion-forward designs of Christian Louboutin (on the left) and Giuseppe Zanotti (right) . . . . . . to the more elegant choices from, again Louboutin (below left) and Jimmy Choo (below right). Just add either of these to an all black, camel, or gray outfit and voilà! Instant chic. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Here are some similar options that won’t give you sticker shock. The lovely Ann Taylor pump on the left is a great buy at $198. And while the charming Kate Spade Chariot slingback is not quite such a bargain, it’s a relatively mild splurge at $398. And everyone’s favorite flat, the Tory Burch Reva, is available this season in, yes, you guessed it: leopard. I could have written this entire article on leopard bags alone. From Valentino and Gucci . . . . . . to Celine and Prada . . .

. . . almost every collection this season offered a leopard bag. And for those of us who don’t want to blow our entire clothing budget on one, I’m happy to report that other lines also have bags in this category as well. Either Coach at $298 (below left) or Talbots at $179 (below right) would be good alternatives.

And how adorable is this Santi clutch at $133! I’m considering this myself as a holiday clutch to wear with all my dressy black outfits.
And for those who want to get in on the action in a subtle way, how about a scarf or pair of gloves? This Adrienne Landau fur option would be very cozy at $200.
And this chic gauzy version from Ann Taylor is currently on sale for $58. I’m in love with these elegant Portolano gloves. They’re a bit of a splurge at $395 but perhaps a little note to Santa might do the trick. With all the ladylike fashions this season, leopard belts are a perfect accessory. Wrap the Ann Taylor version (directly below) at $48 or the J. Crew  (second below) at $39.50 around a classic sheath and you will look totally on-trend with practically no dent in your wallet.

So whether you want to make a major statement or give a passing nod, there are great options at every price point for a walk on the wild size this fashion season.

(To see even more photos of fashion- in-leopard, check out the photo album on WVFC’s Facebook page.)

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  • S. Bewkes November 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Thank you Dr. Pat – it’s my pleasure!!

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. November 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm


    You have such a wonderful sense of what is appropriate but unexpected, a great sense of style for women over 40. We are honored to have you as our sartorial guide here at

    Pat Allen