At a party recently, I saw one of those beautifully campy dames who looked as if she’d just stepped out of a B-movie circa 1955. Blood red lipstick, cattish eyes streaked with thick eyeliner, jet black Bettie Page haircut. But the pièce de résistance was her slinky, cheetah pattern dress.
“I want one of those,” I said to my friend. “To go with my cheetah pattern wallet and cheetah pattern shoes.”
“You’re not allowed to wear those patterns yet,” my friend informed me. “’Cause it’d mean you’re old.”
My friend says only old ladies wear cheetah patterns, or really, any kind of animal print, in order to recapture their lost youth and feel sexy. Once my friend alerted me to the fact, I saw women in animal prints everywhere; a woman at work in a zebra print sweater, a lady on the bus crammed into a tight leopard skirt, a chubby chick in snakeskin leggings. And yeah. They were all old.
Surely, there’s a difference between vintage clothing store / B-movie cheetah print dresses and Neiman Marcus / business meeting zebra sweaters? The former are sassy and hip. The latter are grandmotherly and old-fashioned…er, right?
And what about the trend that happens every so often, when all the “it” girls rediscover giraffe print purses and boots made of alligators? Flipping through the party pages of a magazine recently, I saw a foxy gal in a silk dress patterned like the fur of a tiger. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five.
It’s not only old biddies who look for hotness in the skin of an overgrown feline. Besides, twenty-year olds in tiger get ups can look just as desperate for attention as fifty-year olds in zebra garb. Maybe older women just know how to work it better because they more fully embody their sexuality. Finally, after decades of livin’ and lovin’, they’ve got the guts to wear the hell out of a leopard print dress.
Dressing like animals makes women feel sexy, puts some “why don’t you come up and see me some time” into our step. What starts with Hello Kitty panties in college culminates in zebra print brassieres at bingo.
I guess I’m somewhere in between. Thus, I will continue to wear my cheetah shoes, flash my cheetah wallet and I may even buy a dress. Animal prints are for the sexy ladies. Inhibitions are for the birds.