The Oxygen Edit: Navy and Black with Leopard

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how to style navy with black tips on adding leopard for more style and polish

I believe leopard, cheetah, and other animal prints are a neutral. Whether or not they include brown or black, the pattern just works so nicely with so many colors as well as other patterns. The other day in my closet, I noticed how leopard print gives that necessary contrast to make black with navy feel purposeful and chic. Leopard print is a hot trend this season, one you can find in most any silhouette and style, literally from head (earrings) to toe (flats and heels and booties, oh my!). Below I share some sample outfits to show how to coordinate navy and black with leopard print; effort was made to choose pieces that have a broad range of sizes and I reused a lot of the pieces to show you can create multiple looks with just a few pieces in your closet!

leopard navy and blackcoat | sweater | jeans | necklace | boots

It's common to pair leopard with black, but navy better highlights the intricacies of the print. This is a classic look but switching out a black sweater for navy adds interest and an additional layer of style.

leopard skirt how to style

jacket | tee | skirt | tights | boots

A leopard skirt adds drama to anything you wear… including your favorite t-shirt and denim jacket! Sure, this skirt would look chic with a nipped blazer or cashmere turtleneck, but why not dress it down for the weekend?

leopard styled wwith black navy and denim

blouse | cardigan | boots | jeans

There's something so chic about turning a classic on its head with the addition of leopard print.  For Casual Friday or the weekend, pair your leopard blouse with a navy cardigan to tone down the print but not the style quotient.

Style Tip: Pair leopard prints with rich, saturated denim in classic silhouettes.  Leopard print has become commonplace, but when paired with distressed denim or edgy silhouettes the look can veer towards Kelly Bundy.

leopard with navy and black

sweater | skirt | tights | boots | earrings | sunglasses

When you pair a printed skirt with a black top and black legs, it can create a strange optical illusion and make the skirt such a focal point the rest of the look (and the woman wearing it) can get lost.  Switch up the top half with navy and that subtle switch will create a completely different effect.  If navy isn't your thing, this is a look where any rich color (plum, teal, green, pumpkin, violet, ruby, merlot) can be worn in its place.

navy leopard black

blouse (plus alternative) | pants | earrings | bag | flats

Subtle leopard accessories (and tortoise which gives the effect of leopard) make a black and navy office look purposeful and pulled together.

navy stripe with leopard

striped top | jacket | pants | shoes | belt

How to make a navy striped top look purposeful with black pants? Break up the two with an animal print belt; even better if the belt has texture (calf hair, snakeskin, croco embossing). That little bit of print can take a look from being a handful of separates into a chic weekend look.

navy styled with black and leopard

turtleneck | pants | bracelet | belt | shoes

The power of a leopard print belt, this time for the workplace.  The addition of the belt with a gold buckle and the bold cuff bracelet elevates wardrobe staples and creates a chic and professional ensemble.


navy with black and leopard 1

jacket | t-shirt | bag | sunglasses | shoes | skirt

If a long skirt isn't your thing, a stretchy pencil skirt is a fun alternative.  Style with a blouse or blazer for the office and your favorite sneakers and denim jacket for the weekend.


navy with black and leopard

blouse (plus alternative) | pants | bracelet | earrings | shoes

Another look that is elevated with the addition of leopard and tortoise accents.  The pants can be switched out for a longer fuller leg or a pencil skirt, the loafers for pointed toe flats or pumps.


navy with leopard and black

tunic | faux leather leggings | sneakers | earrings | bracelet | sunglasses

If you're looking for ideas on how to style faux leather leggings, consider pairing them with navy and leopard! While a bright or pastel color may emphasize the faux finish of such pants, navy makes them look more luxe.  Add gold jewelry and some comfy yet stylish footwear and you're ready for the weekend.



poncho | turtleneck | jeans | earrings | shoes

Stay warm and chic this fall and winter with layers of navy and black with a pop of leopard.  This look could easily be changed: replace the turtleneck with the striped tee, the poncho with the denim jacket, the sneakers with an ankle boot, even the jeans with faux leather leggings (as long as the poncho is long enough).

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Because of this post, I took the leap into leopard on my Nordstrom Rack/HauteLook order. Instead of my default plain black I selected a leopard print Bobeau rayon blouse and I love how sharp it looks! Even better, it’s soft and stretchy, so with ponte leggings it’s a perfect all day meetings outfit. Thank you!

  2. Hmm. I have a vintage faux leopard cape from the 1960’s. Perfect condition, complete with scarlet lining. I’ve tried wearing it a few times, but it’s a lot even on me, and I’m 5’10”. Maybe navy is the key. Black looks like I’m overdoing it. (I am absolutely overdoing it.)

  3. I didn’t know I was so on trend! I needed something dressy-casual-appropriate for my husband’s annual work party last Friday. I pulled out my Lands End Leopard sheath from a few years back, a dark navy denim jacket, black opaque Spanx tights and my black suede booties that I bought at Costco last year. I added my gold hoops and I was good to go. If it hadn’t been an office party I probably would have added an orange-red lip (Bite Beauty Cayenne), but I went with a MLBB shade.
    I love leopard. I like that you can dress it up or down. I’ve been eying the Chico’s blouse since you first posted it.

  4. How do you pair black and navy together without looking like a mistake? Is it a combination of certain shades/hues that work? If I mixed them, I think I might look like I dressed in the dark. Love the idea of navy & leopard.

    1. Fabric and saturation make a big difference. Twill and cotton don’t always work because the way the light hits them, but say ponte knit or a merino sweater which has a hint of a sheen and a tightly woven fabric makes it work better. Also it needs to be a purposeful pairing, a pair of black jeans with a navy t-shirt will look like a mistake while a pair of black ankle pants with a navy blouse and a patterned shoe will look purposeful.

  5. I love leopard but doesn’t look good with my coloring. I am a true “winter” cool coloring and even if I wear leopard as an accessory or shoe, it doesn’t compliment what I’m wearing. Any suggestions?

    1. Rose, you lucky gal! Winters have the most fun! You get to wear all of the clear, bright colors and black! Ali is a winter, so whatever colors look good on her will look good on you! I wish I was a winter. If I was, I would simply plagiarize every single one of Ali’s outfits!

    2. I treat leopard like a metal or an accent color. I love wearing silver with colors that are usually paired with gold, and vice versa. Leopard I think looks better with clear, cool colors because it’s a contrast and accent. Also, leopard comes in so many tones. Some are far more warm or golden than others. This season I have seen many “snow leopard” prints, grey leopard, and even leopard prints in colors like red and purple!

  6. I just do not like animal prints. We’ve spent some time on in Africa working on animal conservation, and while I know it is illogical since these are not real animal skins, I just feel it devalues these wonderful and often endangered animals. It is interesting how personal experiences change the way we look at colors and prints.

    1. Lynn,

      I feel the same way. It is a complex and personal decision though. I see wearing big cat or zebra prints as trivializing those animals. But I have no idea how the folks who wear those prints feel about it. Maybe they see it as celebrating and glorifying the beauty of those animals. I also won’t wear purses, shoes, or belts made from snake or alligator skins. Yet I war leather. Like I said, it’s complicated!

  7. I love the long leopard skirt with t shirt & denim jacket! A little classic, a Little Rock & roll, a lot of style. I’ll be rocking that look in January (when it finally cools down enough here for a jacket).

    1. Ugh, there was more of a size selection when I chose it! To be honest, I wanted to use this shirt from J. Crew but couldn’t find a photo of just the shirt not on a person:

      Some other champagne-inspired shirts:
      This one comes up to XL and you can choose your color:
      This one is inspired by Drake and goes up to XL:
      This one is plus sizes, but it’s on final sale and sizes are selling out:
      Lipstick, diamonds, and Champagne in plus sizes:

    2. Same!!!! I immediately coveted it but there is no way I’ll fit into XS. I did buy another one from JCrew that’s almost as cute-the black “Bon Temps” one. Had plenty of sizes.

  8. I have a leopard cardigan. thoughts of taking a burgundy or the solid blue t-shirt underneath. What would a burgundy jean do with this combo? To much. I’m kicking the idea around but afraid to take it further.

    1. I like the idea of leopard with both colors. If you do a Burgundy jean, I’d keep the shell or tee under the cardigan neutral – black, tan, white. I say try it, if with a black tee it won’t look too extreme and is a great way to branch out. And Burgundy jeans are a hot trend this fall!

  9. I have pieces in leopard I’ve been wearing the last 10 years (just checked; the Mizrahi collection for Target was 2008). Leopard has “legs” so to speak. it’s been hot for years; but right now you can find it everywhere. So look for classic styles with traditional colors like Ali is showing and you’re good to go for a very long time

  10. I like leopard, and I realize that you consider it a neutral, but leopard (and other animal prints) have been on the scene for the past few years (long enough to appear in variations like blue and pink). Every trend crests and dies. Is is possible that leopard is approaching its crest, or perhaps has already passed it? Ten or even five years from now, will leopard still be a neutral, as black and navy have been for decades?

    1. Leopard doesn’t seem to die, it’s been a trend for decades. How it’s used it what becomes trendy. Like Patricia says, go for more classic colors and styles of it. I have leopard calf hair skinny belts that are older than my daughter, a leopard small bag that seems to go with everything, a leopard pencil skirt that transforms with any trend its styled with, and leopard pumps are a must in my wardrobe and have been since I was in college. Leopard is like Breton stripes and polka dots, I think it will come in an out of being a hot trend but will remain a classic.

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