Words by Jill Chivers
Illustrations by Imogen Lamport
16 Interpretations of Leopard Print
I’ve just read Fierce: The History of Leopard Print by Jo Whelan and it got me thinking how interesting it would be to have a look at how each of the 16 Style Types may experience, think of, feel about, and borrow from leopard print.
Fierce, The History of Leopard Print is a beautifully illustrated and well researched book that explores this most intriguing of patterns. Having had an enduring fascination and love affair with leopard for the last 20 years, I was drawn to this book and found myself musing about its relationship to the 16 Style Types.
Reading the book I learned all kinds of things about leopard (as the author refers to it, dropping the ‘print’) that I didn’t know. I kept thinking, as I was reading and checking out all the amazing photographs: If a print could be so versatile and have such all-round appeal, well, it might be something that each of the 16 Style Types is, or could be, drawn to, right? Just in different ways and for different reasons.
You see, leopard print is a paradox. It’s the savannah and the street. It’s the exotic and the everyday. It’s the glamourous and the grounded. At its heart, it’s the most unusual combination of wild, exciting and alluring that’s equally natural, earthy and instinctive.
And leopard is most definitely linked, or linkable, to 16 Style Types, if through no other avenue than the Dressing Styles, a core component of the Style Type Report each woman receives when she Discovers her Style Type and downloads her Report.
Dramatic and Rebellious Dressing Styles
There are seven Dressing Styles: Classic, Relaxed, Dramatic, Creative, Rebellious, Feminine, Elegant chic, which we discuss in more depth in your Style Type Report.
Two of these Dressing Styles draw on leopard print more than the others – Dramatic and Rebellious.
Dramatic Dressing Style
The Dramatic dressing style is one that commands attention. It’s bold, brave and confident. You’ll recognize it by it’s large scale patterns, details and accessories, sharply angled collars and pointed toes on shoes, bold colours, high contrast and fabrics that shine and attract attention.
The Dramatic dressing style exudes strength and self-conviction. Leopard print with it’s animal strength fits well into the Dramatic style of dress, as these big cats are powerful and know exactly what they want.
Rebellious Dressing Style
The Rebellious style always reflects the inner value that you are a law unto yourself and will be told by no one what to do or how to live your life. With an anti-establishment vibe you eschew the Classic and conservative.
The Rebellious dressing style has a history that has come from times of change – James Dean and the leather jacket, studs and metal wear from the punk era, gothic black on black. Leopards are wild and can’t be tamed and this fits with the energy and values of the Rebellious style of dress.
Leopard for the 16 Style Types
Leopard is a distinctive print that appeals to many, including some people who adore it so much they have developed a deep and enduring love affair with the print. I would include myself in that category.
I recall the very first leopard print item I purchased as an adult, a small ‘natural’ leopard print chiffon scarf I purchased in my mid-20’s that I snuck into my Very Corporate outfits. I couldn’t tell you why I loved it so, but I did – something about that scarf just called my name and pulled on my heart and style strings. I still have that scarf today.
It’s also true that not everybody is fan of leopard, and some actively loathe and eschew it. When it comes to style, you should wear what you love every chance you get, so if leopard isn’t doing it for you, just stroll on by to the things that call your name.
One of the gifts of psychological type, the personality theory we have linked to style here at 16 Style Types, is that it asks open questions about each of the 16 types and invites interesting and illuminating exploration.
For example, we would never say that any one Type is a better leader than the other 15 Types – we instead ask how each of the 16 Types leads, assuming that each of the 16 Types has something to offer in the leadership space, and we invite an exploration of what their strengths and blind spots in leadership might be.
And so it is with style. Whilst some Style Types may have been drawn more naturally to style from a very early age, all of the 16 Style Types are stylish in their own ways, and each has something worthwhile to contribute to the style landscape.
And leopard may be part of that style landscape! Each of the 16 Style Types can access leopard print should they wish.
Below is our take on some of the most appealing ways that each Style Type may wish to go about getting their leopard on.
You’ll notice it’s as much to do with attitude and motivation (to do with style essence) as it does with the specific style expression and how leopard shows up in that Style Type’s style.
The Sensing-Feeling (SF) Style Types
Charming Stylist ESFJ
Leopard print adds pizzazz and draws the eye. Favoring more natural-looking leopard print that isn’t overly dramatic within itself, your entire ensemble is often vibrant, harmonious and conversation-starting, and leopard is one amazing ingredient to making that happen. Leopard will likely work best when combined with other detailed elements (color, texture, fabric, accessories, layers) which result in a charming and attractive ensemble.
Harmonious Stylist ISFJ
Leopard is camouflage, and can be used to blend in! Not wanting to stand out (at all, and especially not for the wrong reasons), you may prefer natural or softer and subtler versions of leopard (such as a coffee on cream, or soft pink on ivory) in pieces which can be easily removed (scarves, cardigans). Especially items which are currently in fashion, leopard can give your style a little lift without stealing the spotlight.
Vivacious Stylist ESFP
Leopard adds fun and excitement. It’s fascinating and confident, like you! Statement pieces on a smaller scale may suit you – a top, belt, fun handbag, especially if they are pieces not found everywhere else, something you’ve found in one of your favorite out-of-the-way stores that nobody else has or leopard pieces combined in a way that nobody else could copy.
Whimsical Stylist ISFP
Leopard can be whimsical and adventurous, two things that you come naturally by. Whilst not wanting to be the center of attention, you enjoy the sense of exploration style provides, so mixing in a bit of leopard – in any version, including stylized or not-found-in-nature versions – can add an artistic sense of whimsy and play. These leopard items might be best in supporting pieces – boots, bags, bangles – so they can be added and subtracted when required.
The Sensing-Thinking (ST) Style Types
Effective Stylist ESTJ
Leopard can be subtle, especially when used in close-to-natural versions and in smaller, less-attention-grabbing pieces and combined in ways where the overall look is still balanced and polished. A high-quality smaller piece, such as a silk scarf or diamante earrings could be just the touch of daring that gives your ensemble the twist you need.
Appropriate Stylist ISTJ
Leopard can be used to add a pop of interest to an otherwise safe ensemble. Stability is a core element of your style essence, so mixing in a little bit of zing is helpful to keep your style evolving and interesting for you. Nothing too attention-grabbing will likely appeal, a little leopard may go a long way, including smaller touches such as a leopard earring in a classic or feminine style are also good options for you.
Resourceful Stylist ESTP
Leopard can help you stand out from the crowd and signal a shift from the status quo, something you often like to do. Versatile pieces that can be changed up, dressed up and down, worn in multiple situations, will likely work for you. These might be quality heels or a statement handbag which szuszh up an otherwise classic work outfit or can be used as the foundation for a night out with friends.
Individualistic Stylist ISTP
The maverick part of your style may be drawn to throwing a bit of unexpected leopard into your overall look. Leopard won’t be used to stand out or be different, it isn’t others-directed but about your own experience of your style, in your own terms. Anything a bit novel but also practical will likely appeal – a leopard tote or backpack, or socks, for example.
The iNtuitive-Thinking (NT) Style Types
Standout Stylist ENTJ
Leopard is bold, just like your style. Anything leopard that allows you to express your dynamic personality, presence, and energy will appeal. Oversize leopard, leopard in unusual (not-found-in-nature) colours, leopard combined with other stylized items – all of this is possible for you as you standout with leopard print.
Independent Stylist INTJ
Leopard can signal independence and power, two qualities you naturally possess, often in unexpected (to others, at least) ways. Leopard used in accessories and overtones can be a perfect way to bring structure and strength to your outfits. Scale may be large, as well as asymmetrical or non-repeating prints which are a little different, or more classical leopard worn with those elements of asymmetry or larger-scale.
Enterprising Stylist ENTP
Leopards simultaneously walk their own self-determined pathway and draw attention, two aspects you come naturally by. Daring patterns, statement pieces, high contrast and stylized prints (which may or may not be found in nature) – all of these can be enmeshed with leopard to express your dynamic and charismatic personality, making you unforgettable.
Complex Stylist INTP
Leopard can signal a quiet quality with a slightly subversive undertone – ‘don’t under-estimate me or my ideas, even if I’m not loudly making myself or my viewpoints known’. Leopard pieces don’t have to cost the earth, perhaps a vintage or op shop find, and it doesn’t have to be overly bold – but it might be something a little unexpected. Small touches, judiciously added, may appeal to you.
The iNtuitive-Feeling (NF) Style Types
Expressive Stylist ENFJ
Leopard may be chosen to express the attractive, expressive, and gregarious aspects of your personality. Leopard can be alluring and can connect others to you. All kinds of ‘natural’ animal print – the colourful, especially not the neon colourful, varieties will probably not appeal. Entire pieces – jackets, coats, skirts, dresses – as well as accessories could be used, although probably one-per-outfit will be what draws you in.
Subtle Stylist INFJ
Leopard can be used as a way to be seen – when you want to be and when it suits your needs. A little bit goes a long way, and make sure any leopard you choose is a piece that is unusual and/or quality enough to make you still feel like you, anything overly mass-produced will simply feel, and be, wrong for your subtle and unique style.
Charismatic Stylist ENFP
Leopard can be chosen to express your vibrancy, your potency, your out-of-the-box way of putting things together and approaching the world. Smaller pieces in close-to-natural versions will probably suit you rather than a large statement item – so accessories (earrings, necklaces, scarves, pins) as well as handbags and shoes could be just the ticket to get your leopard on in ways that still leave you the star of your own show.
Eclectic Stylist INFP
Leopard can be part of an overall picture that expresses who you are. Leopard of all stripes (haha!), including stylized versions in not-found-in-nature colors, may be employed to express your original style that doesn’t use others’ expectations as necessary input. If the piece has been found on your travels or in an unusual store, all the better: vintage, pre-loved, op shop finds – all these and more can be part of the process of acquiring, and wearing when the items choose you, leopard.
Celebrating Leopard – 16 Ways
Each of the 16 Style Types can access all of the 7 Dressing Styles (of Classic, Relaxed, Dramatic, Creative, Rebellious, Feminine and Elegant chic). The two which embrace leopard the most are Dramatic and Rebellious and in this article, we’ve shared some suggestions and possible interpretations of how each of the 16 Style Types can choose to access leopard print.
There are significant distinctions in how each of the 16 Style Types will experience, think of, feel about, and choose to borrow from such a significant and distinctive style element that leopard is.
Style is a deeply individual and personal journey, and here at 16 Style Types our mission is to hold the light as you find your own way home to your style essence and best pathway to an appealing and authentic style expression. Feel free to make up your own way of using leopard if it appeals to you, or ignore it if doesn’t – it’s all up to you.