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I’ve been in the fashion world for a long, long time—first working in retail, then interning in fashion closets and now spending my days as a fashion writer. Suffice it to say I’m rarely intimidated—or even put off by—a trend, no matter how outlandish it may seem. But I’d be lying if I said I was totally on board with the cow print clothes trend the first time I encountered it. (Cheetahs are suave, zebras are cute and snakes are hella sleek—but cows? Not exactly the first animal that comes to mind when you’re thinking fashion.)
Naturally, I ignored cow print clothes for a hot minute. But then, Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What created a cow print swimsuit that sold out worldwide. And everyone from ASOS to Burberry offered their own take on the cow print clothing movement. It became clear to me that this trend wasn’t one i could avoid any longer; cow print clothes were pervading the zeitgeist, and it was up to me to get in or get out. Never one to say no to a sartorial challenge, I got in.
I spent several weeks bookmarking photos of Instagrammers donning their finest cow print duds as I mentally prepared myself to do the same. The problem wasn’t just that cow print clothes were hard to come by (they may seem ubiquitous, but finding affordable iterations of the trend is surprisingly challenging)—but also that cow print clothes are hard to style. Take too many style cues from fashion’s Western clothing movement, and your look might skew more Jessie from Toy Story 2 than Instagram “it” girl.
The moment I slipped into this mesh, cow-print top, I felt instantly transformed into some kind of cool, badass cowgirl—and I was definitely into it. (Sporting a seriously in-your-face pattern is a small price to pay for looking like Boss Bitch of the Year.) I layered on some Missguided overalls, hoping the brown in the jumper would bring out the brown in the cow spots—because most of the cow print pieces I’d seen were exclusively black-and-white. My efforts worked—the two pieces paired perfectly.
I topped off my look with a Lack of Color wide-brim hat to dive deep into the cowgirl vibe without being too literal. Then, I slid on my favorite pair of vintage sandals, grabbed a thrifted bag and headed on my way.
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After my maximalist, almost costume-y first take on cow prints, I wanted to opt for something simple, minimal and a little delicate. And when I first laid eyes on this Staud cow print handbag, I knew it would become a staple in my wardrobe. Even though the cow print feels a little “out there”—and is definitely bolder than what I’d normally choose in a purse—the bag is incredibly high-quality. Plus, the larger cow spots feel less busy than smaller, more flecked spots do.
I wanted to let this bag have its moment, so I paired it with all neutrals. This Tezza x INSPIR dress was the ideal warm-weather piece and made me feel like the dancing lady emoji with its fun frills and ruffles.
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Now that I was a seasoned cow print professional, it was time to really run with it. To be completely honest, this outfit made me feel like a straight-up baller. Maybe it was the vintage car that I pretended was mine or maybe it was the vintage gold chain belt, but I was floating around in this outfit like nothing could ever bother me. (Isn’t it cool that clothes can make you feel that way?)
Naturally, I unbuttoned a few of the top buttons in order to show off all my layered chains. Since the shirt was a bit oversized, I chose to belt it around the waist to show off my shape instead of getting lost in the blouse. I grabbed my favorite pair of leg-slit black pants and some pointy black heels and was ready to tackle the day. When I began this journey, I could’ve never predicted that a cow print shirt would leave me feeling this veritably badass—but, here we are.