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Animal Print Trend: Conversational Patterns for Fall Clothing

Read about new conversational print clothing trend fall winter 2014 2014

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

It’s not very often that I get really excited about a new fashion trend, but this one is a bit more cerebral than most. I’m talking about the witty, conversational animal prints that keep popping up on all kinds of women’s clothing and accessories.

Read about fall clothes with conversational prints

Fox Print Dress

I’m in love with the new microscopic prints and hidden images. And, you should be looking for witty conversational prints this season, too, because they are absolutely beautiful... and adorably unique.

Yes, those are all animal prints on the outfits in the photo at the top of the page. No, you don't need your reading glasses... and you're not going blind.

It will all become clear later.

Conversational Animal Prints for Fall:

This hidden gem of a trend has been around for a few seasons now, so it’s not a totally new trajectory. It’s just that I didn’t think these animal prints were something that grown women could wear.

But, I was looking in the wrong places.

Most of the conversational prints on the sites I scour had a juvenile quality to them. (They were either too ditsy and cutesy or they were too large and childlike). So, I didn't take this trend seriously.

And, then I saw what major designers were doing....

What Is a Conversational Print?

A conversational print is a repeating pattern of recognizable objects, such as Hawaiian hula girls, pink ballerina slippers, bunches of cherries, kitschy 50s coffeepots, barnyard animals, or kitties playing with balls of yarn.

Note: I used these examples so you could wax nostalgic over some sentimental images from your childhood.

No... I am not giving you permission to wear plus-sized versions of your childhood jammies… or your mom’s kitchen curtains… in public. (Feel free to wear sexy lingerie with images of Hello Kitty whipping Bambi... when you’re with your insignificant other... as long as you're in the privacy of your own home. But, do NOT wear large, silly novelty prints in public.)

Modern conversational prints are elegant and subtle. And, they look like they're made for adults.

But… why are these repeating patterns called “conversational” prints?

  • Answer: Because random people at the bus stop will suddenly turn to you and say, “Ohmygawd! I just realized that the pattern on your blouse is a bunch of little dogs on beach balls. How fun!” And, then, an entire conversation will ensue.
Trendy conversational animal prints on clothing

Modern Animal Prints

Modern Animal Prints Conversational Style

The new animal prints are extremely cool… verging on excruciatingly hip… sort of like an inside joke.

A leopard print dress might, indeed, have a leopard print, but instead of mimicking a leopard’s spots, the pattern might have little dancing leopards and martini glasses… or a leap of leopards packed together so tightly that the pattern looks more like an abstract design… or even a texture.

You can still wear regular animal prints (which never go out of style), but the trendiest animal prints appear to be standard geometric, floral, or abstract designs… until you take a closer look. And, that's when you'll discover that those flowers are actually butterflies… or those clouds are actually sheep.

Modern conversational animal prints can be any animal, but the usual suspects are:

  • Birds
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Horses
  • Assorted forest creatures

Woodland Animal Print Clothes

At the moment, my favorite theme seems to be woodland animals. And, it looks like most designers feel the same way, because some of the finest examples of hidden creatures and teeny-weeny micro prints involve foxes, deer, elk, bears, hedgehogs, rabbits, raccoons, owls, and squirrels… sometimes with the usual assortment of forest flowers, nuts, berries, and trees.

Looking at fabric prints is suddenly fun, again. It’s like there’s some kind of secret contest to see who can be the most creative fabric artist. And, the designer with the most inscrutable pattern will be the winner. (Of course, the prize will probably be a giant Where's Waldo book.)

Unfortunately, some of the coolest designs are so unique that I’m not using them in this article. The animals are so well camouflaged that you probably wouldn't find them. Bummer.

read about new print trends for fall and winter

Clothing Prints from Main Photo

Tiny Animal Prints on Clothing & Accessories

It doesn’t matter whether the pattern is made up of tiny, imperceptible koalas, indecipherably giant kittens, or frozen deer hiding in an imaginary forest… it’s like there’s a punchline with every scarf… a hidden joke with every dress… a whimsical component to every blouse… and this makes clothing fun again.

There’s just something about these intelligent designs (pun acknowledged) that makes you want to get a little closer to the people wearing them.

Fashion usually acts as a barrier, but this trend is feels like the opposite… at least to me.

I want to talk to everyone who’s wearing a tiny print… just in case those polka dots are actually little bulldogs in top hats or that botanical design has tiny pandas cavorting in the bushes.

And… the best part about this clothing trend is that these cheeky conversational prints are perfect for mixing with other patterns, like animal print skirts, folklore patterned tops, geometric tribal scarves… and just about everything else you have in your closet… even jeans… haha.


read about cool fashion trend

Main Photo - Animal Print Clothing

Photo Credits: prshots.com

  • Main Photo: Peter Jensen, LaRedoute, White Stuff, M&Co, Orla Kiely, Phase Eight.
  • Fox Print Dress: White Stuff.
  • Modern Animal Prints: 1. Bird print top, White Stuff. 2. Mustard flock of birds skirt, White Stuff. 3. Blue dog print, White Stuff (some of those little white dots above the button are also dogs). Teal panda print dress, Yumi.
  • Clothing Prints from Main Photo: 1. Black and white sausage dogs (dachshunds) 2. Purple foxes with tiny hearts 3. Running herd of horses 4. Butterflies on flowers 5. Terrier dogs sitting on circles 6. Swans on blue background.

I hope you can see all these prints. If not, go to the Tina Boomerina Pinterest page... or leave a message at the bottom of the page. (Comment won't show up until I have time to approve it.)


Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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1 Comment

  1. kay

    Love this too good ! Pinning immediately for future shopping reference!