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How to Wear Animal Graphic Tops

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Animal graphic tops
Product Links: 1. Tilly’s, 2. H&M, 3. Delia’s, 4. Tilly’s, 5. Wildfox Couture, 6. Modcloth, 7. Delia’s, 8. Delia’s

I’m always the first girl in my group of gal pals to try out a new trend. My friends always comment they they love my eccentric style and wish they were brave enough to wear bold outfits like I do. But want to know a little style secret? Before I debut a new trend, I do some research and see how it was styled on Lookbook and other well-known fashion sites to get my inspiration going. Sure, I could re-invent the wheel and try on a new piece with everything in my closet, but I’m a busy girl (and I’m sure you are too!).

Here at CF, we try to take the legwork out of trying new trends for our beautiful and loyal readers like you! Today, we’re breaking down a trend we’ve all seen on television the past two years, but just now seem to be breaking through to college campuses in “flyover” states. I’m talking about animal graphic tops.

Tips and Tricks for Rocking Animal Graphic Tops

  • Have fun shopping for this trend! Owls and tigers are always popular in fashion, but I’ve seen kittens, reindeer, lions, elephants, and more pop up in stores lately. Pick whatever suits your personality best!
  • The easiest way to wear animal graphic tops is by purchasing a basic animal graphic t-shirt or sweater. Tuck it into high-waisted shorts, pair it with a bandage skirt, layer it under a cardigan or leather jacket, or go bold and wear it with a maxi skirt.
  • Many animal graphic tops (especially sweaters) tend to have a cutesy, young, girly look about them. If you want to keep from looking too sugary-sweet, these tops look awesome juxtaposed with edgier pieces, like leather shorts, skinny cargos, distressed denims, or spiked jewelry.
  • Another option is to run with the cutesy school girl look of these tops, and pair them with pleated skirts, ballet flats, and knee-high socks. Very Rachel Berry!
  • As always, layering is key, especially during the fall! (See our tips on layering for fall.) How awesome would a tiger shirt look under a blazer, denim vest, or army parka?

Outfit Inspiration

How to wear an animal graphic sweater for fall - wedges, cargo skinnies, messy hair
Products: Sweater, Pants, Shoes, Bracelets | Hair photo: ELLE

This kitty sweater is prim, proper, and girly on its own. However, you can make it more fashion-forward by pairing it with tougher looking pieces, like skinny cargo pants and leather bracelets. Velvet wedges will fancy up the outfit, making it perfect for a night on the town. Finish with messy, tousled waves for just a hint of sexy.

How to wear animal graphic sweaters for fall - pencil skirt, flats, cute tote bag
Products: Sweater, Skirt, Shoes, Earrings, Headband, Bag

This take on the trend is polished and preppy, perfect for wearing to class or a study group! Pair a animal graphic sweater or shirt with a conservative black skirt and your comfiest pair of ballerina flats. Keep the prep school vibe going with a headband and pearl studs. Finish with your trusty school bag!

How to wear animal graphic tops for fall - denim cutoffs, tights, military jacket, lace-up boots
Products: Shirt, Parka, Shorts, Tights, Shoes, Ring, Headwrap

This look represents an edgier, more rock ‘n roll take on the trend. Over the last few seasons, we’ve been loving the look of black tights worn with shorts and combat boots — so street style chic! Add an animal top (a tiger is especially edgy-looking) and a cool army parka to keep you warm. Finish with a statement ring and a leopard print headwrap.

What do you think?

Are you going to try the animal graphic top trend? Have you tried this look out before? What are some of your favorite ways to style this trend? What other trends have you tripped up this season? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!!

Posted on on September 27, 2012 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , ,

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23 Responses to “How to Wear Animal Graphic Tops”

  1. 1
    September 27th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Honestly I just think animal graphic tops are too juvenile for me. I’m 20 and I’d never ever wear one, even if the rest of the outfit is cute (which they are, especially that last one!). I think they’re more for middle schoolers/pre-teens.

  2. 2
    September 27th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    They ARE cute, but very juvenile. I’m a 22-year-old grad student, so it’s probably not the best look for me!

  3. 3
    September 27th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I agree, I’m sure it would be adorable on someone younger, but at 21 it’s hard to make it look sophisticated.

  4. 4
    September 27th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    This is sooo spooky. As I’m typing this I’m wearing my new animal graphic tee. It has a wolf on the front and is magenta and i’m in love with it!! haha I’m just wearing it with yoga pants and uggs cuz i’m having a laidback day, but I adore the outfits you suggested and cant wait to try them!!! :) thanks

  5. 5
    September 27th, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Haha I’m 26 and I love the look of graphic animal tees. I have seen them on celebs for a while now. Taylor Swift being the main one and she is one of my style icons. I love the inspirations here!

  6. 6
    September 27th, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I like the owl sweater, but I’d probably only ever wear it when I’m lounging about or watching a movie with friends. Probably not to class, I agree with the others about it be juvenile

  7. 7
    September 27th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Haha, I’m actually wearing my leopard graphic t right now, so this was perfectly timed. I love this shirt, it’s one of my favorites. I agree with the commenters who said the look can be juvenille, and as a *gasp* 25 year old, everyone thinks I’m 17, so it’s probably not the best look for me, but I think you can make it look more “grown up” and fashion forward, it just depends on the animal.

    Since I look young I would never wear something like a kitten or puppy dog, but I have two shirts that have predatory cats faces on them displaying aggressive expressions; a slum tank and a dolman sleeved t. The tank is dark grey, the t is cream. To not look “young” I pair them with dark colors, skinny jeans and stylish shoes, (6 inch heels or edgy sandals/ sneakers) and edgy accessories.

    It’s definitely a look you have to be careful with.

  8. 8
    September 27th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Not a fan of the second outfit. I think pairing an owl sweater and a Paul Frank bag is way too much.

  9. 9
    September 27th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    In terms of it being juvenile, I think it depends on the design. If it’s very colorful and the print is cartoonish, I think it’d be very hard to pull off. I do like the zebra shirt up top though; that could be more easily incorporated. (I’m also a huge fan of that shirt with the cat and sunglasses but shh don’t judge me.)

  10. 10
    September 27th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I’m 24, married with a 2 month old baby boy, and finishing up my last year. The last thing I want/need is someone asking me if I’m a teen. Hahaha! To everyone else, if you love it, by all means, wear it.

  11. 11
    September 27th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Who cares if its “juvenile,” its also fun! I wouldn’t rock this everyday, but once in a while its fun to mix it up and wear something that can be perceived as a little ridiculous.

  12. 12
    September 27th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Love it, but I will pass. I’d have been doing this trend for a while now if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a 27 year old who appears to be going on 17. I’d rather not have people assume that my daughter is my sister.

    That said, these are very cute outfits, and I’m impressed that you’ve managed to “age” the outfits a little so that they don’t read preteen.

    I agree with Taylor about swapping out the bag from the second outfit. One super-young element per outfit is probably plenty.

  13. 13
    September 27th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I actually think you did a great job and that even a college-aged girl could wear a shirt like that.Probably not when you have to dress in a “bussiness-casual”way,but in a class early in the morning,for a casual night(or day)out,for shopping etc.

  14. 14
    September 27th, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I love these graphic tees. I have a black one with a neon rainbow tiger. You have done a great work with these outfits. Now I have more ideas to wear them. Thank you and nice post!

  15. 15
    September 28th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    It’s always odd to me to hear 20 year olds talk about something being juvenile. Personally, I still feel really young and I’m not in too much of a hurry to look grown up. I’ll have enough time for that when I actually am old, haha.

    I’m glad this is becoming a trend. Should make these kind of tops easier for me to find.

  16. 16
    September 28th, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I agree with Ann. I’m a 20 year old in grad school; the very LAST thing I want to do is rush into the suits I’m going to have to be wearing for the rest of my life. I ADORE graphic tees, and do everything possible to experiment with them, so I always appreciate articles like this!

  17. 17
    October 2nd, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I’m mixed about this trend. I LOVE animals and love wearing animal print or animal graphic shirts, but I do agree with some comments about it being a bit too “middle-schooley” sometimes. I think it just takes a teeny bit of thought on a) the animal on the shirt; b) the cut and fit of the shirt (for example, I have a tiger t-shirt that is plain and boring and cutesy that I cut up to look more edgy); c) the other elements of the outfit; and d) hairstyle.

    Obviously, if you choose something like a kitten or puppy or even the drawing style of the animal, the outfit will look more juvenile.
    If the shirt is like the loose tanks shown above, that doesn’t seem too young looking as say, an oversized sweater that makes you loose your big girl curves.
    If you pair the shirt with a skater shirt or a pleated skirt, then the outfit is going to look more juvenile. That’s not to say it can’t be done; I love wearing my cut-out tiger shirt with a faux leather skater skirt and studded leggings.
    And obviously, if you pair an animal print shirt with pigtails or younger looking hair accessories, they’ll be a factor too.

    So all in all, if it’s not for you, okay, but it CAN be done to make a stylish, modern, and college-aged-appropriate outfit.

  18. 18
    August 24th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I think these outfits are great! I’m 25 and I look really young but I’d still wear these. It’s not like I’d wear them to work so why try to “look my age” when I’m out and about?

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