The Hunt: Animal Print Pumps for the Office

How to Wear Animal Print Pumps to Work | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Animal print shoes are everywhere for fall — so I thought it might be fun to round up a few different options for today’s Hunt. As I’ve said before, I embrace animal print as a classic (although it definitely has moments of ultra-popularity, like now), and I actually think animal print pumps can work as a great neutral with blacks, browns, beiges, and more. Ladies, do you like animal print pumps for the office? How do you wear them — and have you bought any great pairs recently?

Bandolino Inspire Giraffe PumpPersonally I’ve had bad luck with Bandolino, but the numerous glowing reviews (“it’s a slipper with a heel!”) suggest it may be time to try again. This mid-heel pump in Giraffe is marked to $59.99 at Macy’s (down from $69). (Also at Macy’s: this Life Stride pump in “sable.”) Bandolino Inspire Giraffe Pump
Isolá 'Isabel' PumpI’m a fan of the whole Isola/Sofft/Born shoe family — they make super comfortable, well made shoes for reasonable prices.  I think of Isola as the “sophisticated daughter” of the other shoes because the vibe is younger and trendier, and this gorgeous pump fits the bill.  It’s also available in a red/zebra version, although I suspect the black/leopard one will work better with fall tights.  Both shoes are $109. Isolá ‘Isabel’ Pump
Sam Edelman Okala PumpI’ve featured the lovely Okala pump before in burgundy — but both the leopard/black and cow/beige versions of the shoe are on trend (and, at $129, another reasonably priced, comfortable option). Sam Edelman Okala Pump
kate spade new york 'karolina' pumpThe Karolina pump is a Kate Spade classic, and there are actually two animal print versions of it right now.  I’ve pictured the “leopard haircalf print,” still available in all sizes for full price ($328) at Nordstrom — but do note that there is a “caramel ocelot print patent” pump available as well; lucky sizes are marked to $178.80.  Nice. kate spade new york  ‘karolina’ pump
 Cole Haan Chelsea Black Heel Pump I couldn’t quite decide which shoe to picture here — the low version or the high version of this pump — because both are lovely.  The high version feels a bit more modern; the low version feels a bit more 60s — I think both could add a pop to a lot of women’s wardrobes.  I would probably stick with the “woodbury” ocelot (pictured) or the gray, but note that the higher heels do come in an “orchid ocelot print haircalf.”  The high version is $368; the low version is $348, both at Zappos. Cole Haan Chelsea Black Heel Pump
Manolo Blahnik Crux Gala Leopard-Print & Snakeskin d'Orsay PumpI absolutely love this Manolo Blahnik pump, and I think it’s a great example of how really committing to animal print can be a sophisticated but fun look. Here they’ve mixed leopard print calf-hair and snakeskin into one shoe — for those of you bored with Animal Prints 101, this is a great example for how to take the next step. Gorgeous. The pumps are $895 at Neiman Marcus. Manolo Blahnik Crux Gala Leopard-Print & Snakeskin d’Orsay Pump

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  1. Equity's Darling :

    Whoah, I love those Isola pumps, and I’m usually not an animal print fan at all.

    When buying shoes online, how do you all choose your size? I wear an 8 or 9, but ill-fitting shoes really bother me, so I’m always hesitant to buy online…

    • I actually like buying my shoes online better, because I can wear them around the house and test them out for much longer than I want to in a shoe store. But I only buy from places that have free returns for that very reason. I have returned way more shoes I’ve bought online than I’ve kept.

      • Anonymous Poser :

        I heartily second zora’s advice. Free returns are a must.

        • ….which are pretty much non-existent for us Canadians. SO annoying.

          And this is precisely why I never buy shoes online.

          • Anonymous Poser :

            Sorry :-(

          • Equity's Darling :

            Yep, this explains why everyone seems to love shoes online. There is no way I’m willing to pay $40 for shipping/duty for the Isola shoes, wait 3 weeks for them to arrive, then risk having to deal with cross-border returns.

            Maybe I’ll try to find a Canadia brick/mortar seller though, because they’re delightful.

      • also: I miss Endless with all my heart

        • Veronique :

          +1. I used to do all of my online shoe shopping there because of the free overnight shipping/returns, great sales and useful search functions. Amazon has great prices, but their search function for clothing/shoes is horrible.

  2. Need to Improve :

    I love those Manolos. Love! I find myself coveting shoes at that price point a lot, but I can’t quite bring myself to do it.

    • I would LOVE to be abel to wear Manolo’s but I do NOT have alot of money and if I did, then peeople would think I have alot of money and I do not YET. If I marry a guy with alot of money, then mabye he will let me buy Manolo’s, but for the time being, I have to rely on Anne Klein, Zara and a few other outlet’s for my clotheing, even with the clotheing allowance.

      Sam is very anxious to pursue me, and when he drove me back to the city, he hinted that we should maybe go to the Hamton’s together this weekend. I told him that I had plan’s (I do NOT), b/c I do NOT want to look like I am to availabel for him. He told me we could go after Labor Day if I wanted and I said mabye.

      Dad gave Sam a list of thing’s he wanted answer’s to, but Sam will not share that list with me. It is clear Dad is trying to get Sam to take over my finance’s, b/c he work’s for a big investment house and know’s alot about money management. Sam asked me what the carrying charge’s are on my apartement is, but I said I did not know. He talked about renting out my apartement as a source of income, and the onley way that would make any sense is if I did NOT live there. And the onley way I would not live there is if I had to move out and I would onley move out if I got a job out of town, or got MARRIED (mini-yay), but to the right guy.

      The onley thing I am totally skeeved about is the nose picking. Dad did not see it, but I did. I also saw his car, and the push butten’s on his dash board radio are filthy and I think covered in petrified boouger’s. I told mom about that and she said not to worry, b/c Sam would surely buy me my OWN BMW SUV to shuttel around town with the kid’s.

      Well that could fix the car, but what about our house? Would I have to find boouger’s everywhere I turned in the house? I do NOT want to be finding that inside the refrigerator, or worse, in the bedroom. I want to be clean and he would need to stop doing that. At his age (36), he should know better, but since he is much older then me, I have dificulty haveing him take me to seriousely. He just consider’s me some kind of cute plaything to show around (like Ed does with Rosa).

      He was told by Dad that Ed and Rosa need to see him, as well as Grandma Leyeh. OMG, what will happen if they start askeing alot of questions? FOOEY!

  3. I have leopard print mary janes, they’re not in super heavy rotation but I like to wear them with a black or forest green dress, or camel skirt with a white blouse.
    On the topic of uncomfortable heels – if the top edge of the shoe is pressing into the top of your foot (kind of above the big toe or pinkie toe, where your foot flexes) does this mean the fit is wrong or this is just unavoidable with higher heels? Because I pretty much get this with all my shoes, in quite a range of brands and price points.

    • That means the vamp of the shoe is too long for the shape of your foot. Your foot must require a short vamp. I find this sometimes too and it happens more often in higher heels because essentially it means that my foot naturally bends at a different place than that shoe requires. I just have to look for different styles that let my foot bend in the right place.

      Sometimes you can soften the shoe, or the shoe will soften up over time, but you can really count on this only with leather shoes.

      • So basically it’s a decision between toe cleavage vs. the shoe pressing into my foot? It doesn’t actually hurt or really bother me (I’m probably just used to it), but it does look a little scary when I take my shoes off.

        • Based on my experience, either (a) toe cleavage (which I don’t really like), (b) lower heels, or (c) soft leather that will stretch a bit. I basically never buy shoes that aren’t comfortable when I first try them on, so for me it generally ends up being a combination of (b) and (c).

  4. Amelia Pond--Houston Recs :

    TJ: I’m driving to Houston this week for some interviews and I am looking for some good Mexican restaurant recommendations. The last few places I have lived have terrible Mexican food so I am excited to be headed somewhere with good Mexican food! I am staying near the Galleria, but going to be downtown as well so anything in those areas would be good.

    Bonus points for budget friendly places for the poor law student!
    Thanks in advance!

    • Amelia Bedelia :

      Chuys – on Westheimer
      Lupe Tortilla – off the 59
      ONLY THE ORIGINAL Ninfa’s – on navigation (the other’s are franchised and complete cr*p)
      Loma Linda – on telephone road off 45 (this is very, very cheap, but honeslty a bit of a bad neighbourhood and pretty far out of Houston).
      A lot of people like the Pappas brand, but I really don’t. I find them very overpriced (not law school budget friendly). And the food really isn’t as good as Chuys or Lupe.

      • +1 to all the Lupe Tortilla recs!

      • Agree that the franchised Ninfa’s are awful and that Pappasitos is underwhelming.

      • Tila’s, Cadillac Bar, Pico’s, and El Real. My FAVE would be Hugo’s which is actually Mex Mex. I’ve never cared for Lupe’s, Pappasito’s, or Ninfa’s, but a lot of people (obviously) like them. Guadalajara has good tortilla soup and empanadas.

    • Anonymous :

      chuys has a great happy hour! I’d suggest hitting them up. Also, lots of love for Lupes. They were a favorite of my family growing up.

    • I have to agree with Amelia – if you are going to go to Ninfa’s ONLY Ninfa’s on Navigation!
      It is my favorite Mexican Restaurant in Houston.

      Near the Galleria- Lupe Torilla is pretty good.

    • Houston Attny :

      Welcome to Houston! It’s rainy today but will be hot the rest of the week (apparently I’m of the age where I love weather as much as my parents). I agree with Chuy’s. Just consistently good food, good happy hour (even at the tables – not just at the bar). Another place I like is El Real on Westheimer closer to downtown. It is a restaurant creation of Bryan Caswell among others and is in a converted theatre.

    • Hugos on Westheimer

    • In the Pink :

      There is a Chuy’s heading west on Westheimer. (away from the Galleria and the “inner loop”) . If you go through intersections at Rice – Chimney Rock – etc. you are heading towards that Chuys.

      Off menu alot, you can order Elvis’ Fried Chicken. Incredible. Done with potato chips for the “breading.”

    • Late to the party but I’d add Molina’s on Westhemier.

    • I agree with the Lupe suggestions, but ONLY if you get the beef fajitas. Nothing else there is worth it. Also like El Tiempo.

      • Anonymous :

        I was going to say El Tiempo & El Real (great happy hour. super rich/heavy!)!

        Hugos isn’t tex mex just straight up mexican food!

  5. Anyone own an Ivanka Trump leather bag? :

    I’m embarrassed to even be asking this, but I’ve seen a leather snake-print bag of Ivanka Trump’s that I really like. I’m hesitant to order because I have no experience with this brand, and I have fears about the quality. She has a lot of bags that are “synthetic leather” (I hate that those still show up on some sites even when one filters results for leather), but this one appears from the description to be made of actual leather.

    Does anyone here have experience with her leather bags? How is the quality?

    • No experience with her bags, but I have several pairs of her shoes (flats) and they’ve held up extremely well.

    • ditto, good experience with shoes. i’ve seen her bags in person and they look nice

  6. a nonny miss :

    Sorry for the early relationship advice threadjack, and the length of this, but I’m hoping to glean some advice from thoughtful women with more wisdom than I have.

    I recently started casually seeing someone that I had dated for a couple of years around 2010. There’s a pretty significant age gap (I’ll be 26 in November, he’ll be 37 in a few weeks) in addition to, what I think, are a lot of fundamental differences: I went to college, lived abroad for a few years, don’t really want to settle down in a rust belt area, I’m planning on going back to study law in Europe in an area where I have a big, solid network and would live permanently if I could, I’m super social and have a broad circle of friends. He did not go to college, he’s a blue collar worker (which doesn’t bother me), and operates a 200 acre farm in addition to his 40 hour a week job, he’s super quiet and really has no friends aside from two coworkers.

    We originally broken up because he was so firmly set in his ways and was jealous of the relationships I had with my friends, and it was very stagnant – we were doing the same things over and over. It wasn’t a bitter or angry breakup, but we didn’t speak or see each other for over a year (a feat given the small area we live in), but after a few months, I really did miss him. We started speaking again in June after running into each other a nursing home of all places. He’s changed pretty significantly in the two months we’ve been hanging out: he’s more outgoing, he wants to do things outside of his comfort zone, he’s fine when I’m doing things with friends after work or on weekends, and he’s doing things that he’s been wanting to do, like finishing his pilot’s license. I don’t know if this is temporary or an actual change, but he’s already dead serious about this relationship. Work friends met him and called him a keeper and a stranger at a restaurant told him that he needed to marry me. His response was that he’d lost me once and he wouldn’t let that happen again, and he’s repeatedly made similar, very commitment/marriage-centric comments since (the prospect of marriage makes me feel anxious if I’m being honest).

    I know this is ultimately something I have to figure out myself, but I’m not sure I’m ready to compromise the things I want, like school and living abroad, or even kids, since it’s getting sort of late for him. So, I guess my question is, how have you known that making a compromise or sacrifice like this is the right thing? And do you ever think about the things you gave up and have any regrets about them?

    • I think that this is definitely something you will have to figure out for yourself. It doesn’t sound possible to carry out both your life plans (his farm and your living in Europe), but it’s up to the two of you to figure out what you think is more important.
      But I just want to say that you shouldn’t pressure yourself, kids wise. You’re 26, he’s 37. For better or worse, men are able to have kids long past 37. My dad was 44 when I was born. You have enough to figure out, don’t make “it’s getting sort of late for him” part of the calculus.

    • Anonymous :

      You want completely different lives, yes? I don’t think you can ever compromise about that. What happens instead is that you realize that you no longer want a far away adventure, you want him. And it really doesn’t sound like that has happened for you. He sounds like a great guy who wants to marry you. He also sounds like a guy you’re using (very nicely) while you wait for your real life to get started.

      • I agree with this. I currently live in the middle of nowhere and left a city I LOVED (and never planned on leaving) where all my friends/family live to do so. Why? Because being with my now husband was more important and he was not able to relocate because he has a child. Do I miss city living? Absolutely. Was it worth giving up for my husband/stepdaughter? Absolutely. Not to say that I didn’t have those “what the hell am I doing?” thoughts along the way, but ultimately I knew that I wanted to be with him and that if I wanted to be with him, that meant giving up my city life until he is able to relocate.

        • I agree with both of the above comments. Are you in love with him? Do you want to spend the rest of your life with him? You don’t necessarily have to get married now, but do you actually see yourself being with him in the long run, or are you just flattered that he wants to be with you?

          If your answers to the above are “no,” I think you need to put him on hold and pursue your other dreams.

          When you know, you know.

    • Olivia Pope :

      It sounds like you two do not have compatible life goals AT ALL. I don’t think this will work. Compromise makes sense if you wanted a farm in one state and he wanted a farm in another. Or if he wanted to settle down in the suburbs of a particular city and you want to live in the heart of that same city. Compromise does not make sense if he wants to get married in the rust belt right now and you are anxious about marriage and ready to move to another part of the world.

      I don’t think the age difference matters personally. He is most likely perfectly capable of having children, but there’s some increased risks.

      • Agreed to both paragraphs!

        Also–everyone makes their own determinations about what level of jealousy/openness/non-relationship friendship is acceptable, but I hope that as you decide, you don’t underestimate the importance of his resentment or hostility toward your other relationships. Speaking from experience, the kind of other-friendship-jealousy that can seem cutely protective (or at least tolerable) at first tends to escalate to feelings of stifledness, resentment, and unreasonable expectation (because all the social weight that used to be spread throughout your network is now displaced onto your solitary, maybe not too forthcoming loner).

    • I read your post and it made me reflect on my own life. I guess take this for what it’s worth – I dated a guy for 5 years (from age 17 – 22), I’m 30 and married to someone else now. I attended college and went on to a successful career in a large city. He did not attend college and wanted to stay in our hometown working at his blue collar job. He said he hated cities and never wanted to live in one. I knew that I couldn’t stay in my home town due to the lack of career opportunities and being generally bored. It was this issue alone that broke us up. Breaking up with him was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life but as I was doing it I knew it was the right thing for me. I love my husband dearly, I really do, but I don’t think I will ever have the same connection with another man as I did with this guy. Do I regret the decision? No, because my life would be radically different today and why look back at the past. Go with your gut instinct.

  7. dismal science :

    Oooh, these are fun! I’ve been wanting a leopard or other animal print shoe for a while now but haven’t found anything great for my fat feet. Anyone have any faves that come in wide (and flat or low heel)?

  8. I adore leopard print, but I have to say I’m not a fan of any of these shoes really except maybe the KS and the CH. I just think leopard is punchy enough on it’s own, the rest of the shoe should be pretty classic. Mixing it with snakeskin or other accents just seems tacky (though who knows maybe it looks better in context).

    BTW, for anyone who is grossed out by calf hair like me, I’ve had these in my cart for a bit and think they’re a pretty cute alternative (plus totally walkable heel so no need to change into more sensible commuting shoes):

  9. Anonymous :

    My boss just told me he’s taking me along to a client meeting in Milwaukee this week. It’s my first business trip and my first meeting with these clients (but I might be managing the project if we have the winning bid.) I need advice on what to pack/wear. A suit seems too formal. If it helps, I’m in my mid 20s and while we’re in the legal sector, it’s not BigLaw.

    • As a lawyer going to visit a client I would say suit even if you’re not in BigLaw. Wear a colorful top under your jacket to brighten it up.

    • Client visit means, to me, suit unless/until he tells you otherwise. If you have the kind of relationship you can ask him, you could ask him directly.

    • Ask your boss or someone in your office to be sure…but our office has a “client visit = suit unless specifically told otherwise” rule. “Otherwise” examples include our clients in Hawaii, who expect us in Hawaiian biz casual, our southern clients who are all about the suit separates, etc.

      • Oh- and if you can’t get an answer…just wear a suit with a top that can stand on its own. You can always lose the jacket.

        • +1. Business culture can vary dramatically from city to city and between clients and without more info (which I know you can’t give) it’s hard to guess what’s appropriate to this particular context. Suit + standalone top at least lets you hedge your bets.

          Also, if possible, take a cue from your boss (who presumably has a comfortable relationship with these clients). He’s probably going to wear a suit, but how? If he is pointedly scruffy, or a “brown-suit man,” etc., the clients may be happier to find their project manager something other than black-suit/crisply NYCish. (E.g., here in Seattle, fortune often favors the Goretex.)

  10. Shoe challenge!

    I have narrow heels but a wide toe box and, just for fun, fallen arches. (I’ve already had surgery on both of my feet for bunions, so I’m on top of my foot health!) I work in a casual office, but I lean toward the business casual side of casual. I am looking for shoes that will fit my orthotics, and not too narrow in the toe box–I’m great in the winter with boots/booties, but it’s so hard in the warmer months because flats tend to fall off my feet when I’m wearing my orthotics (they push the foot up).

    I’m usually wearing Clarks or the like, but I really want some fun shoes for once–any recommendations for comfy but stylish flats that have a bit of support? Or stylish oxfords or loafers that would look good with wider-legged (i.e. not skinny or straight) pants? I don’t see that look working, but I’m curious if others have ideas!


    • Have you tried the barkingdogshoes blog? You’ll find lots of recs there.

      • Thanks! Those are all super frumpy for my taste, but I suppose I realize this is an inherently frumpy request. :)

    • Lady Harriet :

      I’m a big fan of Earthies. I have super high arches, heel pain, and absurdly wide feet and they’re the only brand of nicer shoes I can wear. I was introduced to them by a friend with falling arches, and they work really well for her too. The support is so good that you can probably go without your orthotics. (I do not think they would work with orthotics because of the shape of the footbed.) I own a pair of pumps which are amazing (the Essex) and a pair of low-heeled sandals (the Sarenza) which are cute, but lacking the support of the heels. From looking at the flats online (usually more like a 1 inch heel), they seem to have support more comparable to the heels. There are several styles of loafers and oxfords in the shoes out this fall. I have very wide forefeet with heels that tend more towards average width. I do have to size up for width, but it’s manageable. I think you would be fine with the width.

      I’m not a huge fan of the fall’s pointy-toed heels, but many past styles are still available, and I do like the new flats out much better than last year’s. I’m really picky about my style in shoes, and they’re not exactly what I would want (more streamlined heel shapes, round toes, vintage style, lots of colors), but they’re close enough, and I can actually wear them, unlike other brands.

      I think the Bindi flats are super cute for warm weather, and I want to buy them as soon as the price drops enough. Seriously, the only thing that keeps me from owning 15 pairs of Earthies is money. It’s the only brand other than Birkenstocks that makes my feet happy.

  11. Come Up Girl :

    Need some quick advice from the hive. Long time reader, and second time commenter! I work in the financial services industry and I have been interviewing around lately. I have a second interview with a great organization/potential dream job coming up next week. I obviously need to wear a suit to this interview, but I can’t find anything that fits my 8 month pregnant belly. I last interviewed with the same organization a month ago, and with the help of Spanx and control top hose, I was able to conceal everything quite nicely. Do I suck it up and buy a maternity suit? Do I go into the interview and acknowledge pregnancy (obviously, if offered the position, I would disclose before acceptance/during negotiation, I just don’t want to give anyone a reason NOT to offer the job)? Or do I just roll up in there looking all pregnant and not say anything about my basketball smuggling situation? This was so easy when I could hide it! Thanks in advance for the advice!

    • You can’t hide it, so own it. Wear your nicest maternity office dress with an open blazer. There is no point in buying a maternity suit for one interview. If this is truly your dream organization, they will be understanding and just fine with you not wearing a suit in your current situation. Good luck with the interview!

    • Yeah, I think you get a pass when you’re that far along. I mean, look professional, but no need to buy a new suit. Good luck!

    • I’m 8+ months pregnant myself…and I’d say this totally depends on the employer. If it’s a really conservative firm in a conservative industry, I might just bite the bullet and buy a suit.

      If you’ve been there before, have a sense for the vibe, and will be meeting with people that met you last time (in a suit), then I think a dress/blazer combo is fine.

    • I work in financial services and think that a dress/jacket combo is fine in this situation. I would let the hiring manager know that you will be available to start on X day.

  12. Veronique :

    I love the shape, print and fabric of the Karonlinas, but don’t want to spend that much. Any suggestions on a similar shoe in the $75-150 range?

  13. Am in love with the Loeffler Randall Tamsin pump in cheetah haircalf. Been quite difficult not to pull the trigger on them.

  14. Best animal print shoe purchase: five years ago, $30 leopard haircalf almost-flats (1” wedge heel) by none other than Steve Madden, shoemaker to the screaming hordes of Bieber-loving, Taylor-hating, glossy-lipped teenaged girls. Five years later I am still wearing them all day and getting compliments from strangers. The hair has rubbed off on the inner heel cup but can’t bring myself to give them up… There will never again be such a perfect almond toe, such gloriously pale-caramel leopard.

  15. Leopard is a neutral :

    Just my two cents to add that as a huge animal print shoe person (as you might guess from the name), I have the Sam Edelman Okala in the cow/beige and love them! I get so many compliments on them and they are amazingly comfortable. I also just got
    and am wearing them today – something different from all the leopard and cute and comfortable for a flat that works with a skirt or pants.

  16. Here’s another pair, on sale, not pony or hair calf

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