Not too many people can pull off a catsuit.  We don’t all  have bodies like Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson in her new Iron Man 2 physique.  So when my girlfriend Carah asked me if I was wearing one the other day I was both taken aback, and flattered.  I was not in a catsuit, and have definitely decided that the only cat anything I will be wearing on my body will be prints—and apparently my fellow BayArea beauties have decided to join me.

ANimal printed bracelets

So maybe big faux coats made of leopard prints have no place in our closets, but animal prints can always add some oomph to an outfit if done in small doses, as we’ve learned from What Not to Wear’s Stacy London.  They have taken over accessories from small pieces like earrings and bracelets, to leggings—which should be worn carefully and sparingly—to even sunglasses.  The term cat eyes truly has a new meaning.

Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozado, ex-wife of NBA player  Antoine Walker, seems to favor everything from leopard to zebra.  And though I’m not one for an all over leopard dress, when done tastefully it can be very sexy—especially if you have the curves to really make that kitty growl.

Swimsuits in various "wild" colors

In the 1960s animal prints became widely popular with women in the United States, especially among hippies.  Back then designers like Carole Little, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior were making the prints come alive on women across the country and around the world.  Animal prints were seen as luxury, and often took the form of coats, bags, and skirts.  Prints varied from leopard to cow, to zebra and giraffe.

Today, zebra and big cat patterns seem to have the largest following.  And they can be found in almost any form of accessory.  Jeffrey Campbell’s Mariel platform, which has a large wedge and all over cheetah pattern are a modern take on the beloved print, selling for about $175.  Kate Moss did a classic black and white zebra print bag for Longchamp, retail $2500. But if none of those are in your budget it’s okay, you can still let out your animal instincts without busting your budget.   Even stores like Target are selling animal printed items, from as little as $5.99 for jewelry, and $19.99 for bags.  In the Mission I’ve spotted everything from scarves to opaque tights.

I’ve been known to wear an animal or two, not including the faux rabbit fur I scored for cheap at Thrift Town on Mission Street, but never have I seen the prints available in such a variety of items before.  And it’s refreshing, because although every era must put a modern spin on old trends, it’s safe to say that after surviving four decades of uninterrupted runway homage, animal prints will never go out of style.