piss off

It’s a wonder I love animal prints.

To explain the irony, let’s travel back to 1973, the year my parents (university professors on sabbatical) enrolled me in a Swiss elementary school….

It was a warm, sunny day; my friend and her mother invited me out for an afternoon at the local Zurich zoo, where we happily hopped from exhibit to exhibit, excited when it was time to see the lions and tigers and bears. We soon approached a particularly large cage containing a particularly large tiger. In front of the cage was a sign. It read:

Nicht in der Nähe des Käfigs zu gehen, weil der Spritzen.

Loosely translated, this means: Don’t go near the cage because of spraying.

To my 11-year-old mind, the message was: Don’t come up close for a look-see when zookeepers are hosing down the floors. However, there was neither a zookeeper nor a hose in sight–and the majestic animal was beckoning–so I decided to stand bravely close to the cage.

It was at this moment that the tiger reared up on his hind legs and promptly peed all over me.

Oh my.

Lest you assume this is where the story ends, my friend’s well-meaning (and horrified) mother reacted by pouring her entire can of Sprite on me–a move that actually superseded the toileting tiger.

Do you know what it feels like to walk around a zoo in hot, sunny weather wearing sticky exotic-animal urine? I do.

I read recently that tigers pee on things (and, apparently, people) to mark their territory. So I try to view this childhood trauma as a good thing–a form of feline flattery, if you will.

I also looked up the Zurich Zoo online. This is their logo.

Really. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

These days, I prefer to wear my lions and tigers and bears in faux form…and always in moderation. Throwing on a leopard-patterned scarf, cheetah earrings, or hot spotted ankle booties is a brilliant way to add an element of excitement to your wardrobe. Just don’t show off too much of your wild side.

I also believe that there is absolutely no reason to pounce on $800 animal-print flats when you can buy them at a price point that doesn’t attack your entire shopping budget.

Jimmy Choo Leopard-Print Calf-Hair Loafer; $795

Nor does one need to claw to the front of the line for $500 flats. Jimmy Choo Wheel Jazz Flat; $495

But these are worth a cat fight: Steve Madden's Croquet Flat; $79.95, www.nordstrom.com

As are Anne Klein's Krantz flat; $59.99, www.zappos.com

And for creeping around the house: canvas leopard loafers; $14.20, www.gojane.com

When you escape the house: DVF Zia Sandal; $298, www.nordstrom.com

Too exotic for my budget: Roberto Cavalli Leopard-Print Stole; $565

This one held me captive: Ocelet Linen Gauze Scarf; $69.50, www.ralphlauren.com

Equally prized...Trouve Animal-Mix Scarf; $48, www.nordstrom.com

Darra's Fabric Wrapped Leopard Print & Gold Metal Bangle Set; $49.95, www.fantasyjewelrybox.com

Clutch this: Sonia Kashuk's Animal Print Cosmetic Bag Frame Purse; $11.99, www.target.com

Catch a Tweezerman by the toe; $22.50, www.ulta.com

Clearly, I’ve made peace with the beasts. Prey tell…do you love animal-prints, too?

  • Anastasia Steele

    I love animal prints too! They always seem to bring out the beast in me. My boyfriend would love those Jimmy Choo slippers.
    Great piece, Hillary!

    June 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm
  • Nancy Mattia

    Whoever would think an anecdote about tiger urine could be part of a shopping blog? Good story! BTW they’re not my usual style but I love those DVF sandals.

    June 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm