Animal-Print Coats

While there are so many cool and cosy coats to try this winter, in our experience you can never go wrong with a luxe animal-print version. Whether it's emblazoned on a plush peacoat a la Ashlee Simpson or a more tailored style as seen on Harper's Bazaar's Joanna Hillman, every year like clockwork, big cat-inspired patterns-think: oversized leopard prints and tiny cheetah spots-make a spirited return to the limelight. This is decidedly good news, as the results are invariably chic and always purr-fectly on-point. If we're absolutely sure about one thing, it's that these attention-grabbing prints never go out of style, which is why we're delighted to share with you, dear readers, a myriad of au courant outfit ideas in today's How They Wear story!

Though we don't typically include a runway reference in our How They Wear features, we just couldn't resist mentioning The Row's Cheple Coat ($7890) from the F/W 11 collection because let's be honest, it's the cat's meow! We're fans for all the obvious reasons, one of which being the oversized leopard print, which is certainly eye-catching and undeniably gorgeous. We'd also like to point out the exquisite tailoring and belted silhouette, which balances the playful spirit of the print and gives the coat a sharp and sophisticated look overall. Another brilliant piece from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen!

Happily for us all, this isn't solely a runway trend-it's also an important look in the real world too! There's no denying that the fashionable set's loved animal prints for ages, but it's always interesting to see how these style-minded ladies incorporate this bold outerwear into their wardrobes in new and exciting ways. For example, we spotted Solange Knowles out in Brooklyn early last month and couldn't help but notice her eclectic mix of prints, which consisted of By Malene Birger's Rufe Faux Leopard Coat ($626.50), a geometric-print blouse, pink spotted skirt, and Alexander Wang's Anais Metallic High Heel Loafers ($650, available here in silver). The resulting outfit is just what you'd expect from the daring dresser: fun, fearless, and executed in a sophisticated way! We also approve of the outfit Joanna Hillman put together earlier this year at New York Fashion Week, especially the way the Harper's Bazaar Senior Market Fashion Editor gave her tailored Zara coat a nautical twist with a Breton-striped Saint James Miniquiers 10 T-Shirt ($70) and high-waisted navy Balenciaga trousers. The mix of spots and stripes works surprisingly well together and adds up to the one chic and polished look in our books.

If mixing and matching prints seems a bit too adventurous for your tastes, you can always go for Ashlee Simpson and Kate Lanphear's foolproof styling method instead, and simply pair your spotted coat with solid neutral colours! The former, who was photographed out in Los Angeles early last month, made sure her Topshop cheetah-print peacoat stayed in the spotlight by teaming it with a simple, unfussy pieces, including a little white lace dress and basic black pumps for a smart after-hours ensemble. A month later in New York, Lanphear, ELLE's Style Director, allowed her fantastic coat to take center stage with the help of her signature black-on-black uniform, and the result was a cool, downtown ensemble we're dying to replicate. Finally, we noted another fantastic outfit involving a leopard-print coat on Stockholm Streetstyle, only in lieu of a white lace or all-noir foundation, the well-dressed civilian opted for a white button-up shirt, burnt orange leather skirt, black boots, and a chocolate brown bag. The harmonious combination of understated separates and warm hues made for a completely stylish day look, don't you think?

Now that you've seen how some of your favourite tastemakers are wearing animal-print coats, it's time to snag one or a few enviable options of your own! First things first: Milly's Leopard-Print Faux Fur Coat ($695) and Neiman Marcus' Leopard-Print Trenchcoat ($195) are both ultra-chic belted options that are bound to get plenty of attention, so we highly recommend picking up one stat. If you prefer a slimmer, more tailored silhouette, you definitely should check out Mango's Animal Print Coat ($160) or Elizabeth and James' Foster Leather-Lapel Coat ($995); the latter is an investment, for sure, but we guarantee it will get plenty of wear this winter. As for some plush and cosy picks, we're crazy for River Island's Faux Fur Leopard Print Coat ($126) and Modcloth's All About Meow Coat ($125). Of course, if it's a cropped style you're after, please don't miss Rory Becca's Moss Fur Jacket ($473) and Generation X's Leopard Faux Fur Coat ($99)-we think they're pretty stylish and are positive you'll enjoy them too!-Jessica Baker

Photos of Kate Lanphear and Ashlee Simpson, courtesy of Pacific Coast News; Photo of Solange Knowles, courtesy of Splash; Street style photo, courtesy of Stockholm Streetstyle. The Row runway photo, courtesy of The Row.

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