What Is Safari Fashion?

It’s a jungle out there, and you’ll need to be appropriately attired if you wish to stand out this season.

Safari-inspired fashion has been popular since the early 1970s due to its practical nature, timeless elegance, and sexy details. Choosing the ideal safari attire is critical, and not just for selfies. Safaris are exciting and adventurous, and safari fashion integrates all of these elements while keeping you safe and secure while on the wild trip.

Continue reading for tips and style guidelines if you’re interested in safari fashion and how to incorporate it into your style.

Safari Fashion: A Brief History

The safari look was inspired by British officers and the jackets they wore during their campaigns in Africa. The word is associated with a specific style or theme, including khaki clothing, slouch hats or pith helmets, belted bush jackets, and animal skin patterns.

The British military first sported the pith helmet in tropical regions, and it was later adopted as streetwear from 1870 to 1950. Safari jackets were even described as crisp drill cotton with a belt, pockets, epaulets, buttons, and a part of the Kenyan colonial style.

During his post-presidential trip in 1909–1910, Theodore Roosevelt was “outfitted” in safari-style by his buddy Lord Cranworth. Newland & Tarlton, Lord Cranworth’s firm, is a high-end safari outfitter that creates safari-style clothing. Other sources claim Roosevelt was fitted by Willis & Geiger in 1908.

On a safari tour, Hemingway, like Roosevelt, preferred British-style rifles made by Westley Richards or Holland & Holland. Safari jackets were even worn by celebrities such as Johnny Weissmuller and Grace Kelly. Ernest Hemingway wore safari-style jackets, conveying a sense of adventure echoed in Hollywood, and the Safari jacket is still a component of modern fashion.

In the spring/summer 2005 issue of British Vogue (see what makes Vogue such an iconic magazine here!), an article titled “Haute Safari” featured clothing in the “Haute safari” style. Melania Trump and other modern American public figures have donned safari attire. During her trip to Africa in 2018, Mrs. Trump wore safari-style jackets and a dress.

Mrs. Trump traveled on a safari in Kenya while on this trip, wearing a pith helmet. Several have criticized the choice, claiming it evokes colonial ideals. 

Harper’s Bazaar published trend alerts in 2014 that featured a “safari sleek” style and animal prints, and safari-style variations were featured in the collections of couture designers in their 2015 fashion shows.

During Paris Fashion Week, designer Yang Lei showcased a silk safari-style evening gown in the Spring/Summer collection. Meanwhile,  Alexander Wang’s collection was dominated by white shirts, including a safari-inspired white shirt dress. In 2015,  the New York Times described Alberta Ferretti’s daywear collection as “safari-sleek.”

According to John Molloy’s history of the leisure suit, safari-style began from British officers donning their uniforms outside of army purposes as a status symbol, but only in casual settings. Molloy asserted in 1975 that it is still a type of casual menswear. In Malindi, Kenya, professional attire in the 90s included safari-style clothing.

Yves Saint Laurent’s Africa collection in 1967 featured the “Saharienne” safari jacket, and the brand later produced an iconic safari top. As per Harper’s Bazaar, the catalog was a primitive genius fantasy. On the other hand, various fashion historians believe he possessed the ability to borrow from one culture without becoming condescending to the other.

After the launch of the movie Out of Africa, the term “safari chic” arose. Not only did it include clothing but also architecture and interior design. African decor, natural materials, various shades of brown, rugs, animal print furniture, and wallpaper are common features of safari-style interiors. Architectural Digest published a list of luxe safari camps in 2005.

The Newland, Tarlton & Co. Furniture Collection designs luxury safari-style furniture for featured hotels, safari camps, and private residences. Safari fashion extends to Ralph Lauren’s fragrance collections; the Safari fragrance, launched in 1990, was marketed as a floral scent with a light breeze fragranced by freedom, grasses, and the romance of vast open spaces.

How to Achieve a Safari-Inspired Look

Sexy strong woman in hat, silk beige overall suit and belts and brutal shoes sits on floor with her legs wide apart

Natural textures and earthy tones are essential for your jungle adventure; bold colors are a no-no because they can attract insects and wild animals. Beige, brown, khaki, cream, and tan should be your go-to shoe and clothing colors.

Try incorporating a silk scarf in muted colors or layering gold accessories to amp up your outfit and add an exotic touch. Straw hats are also essential; aside from providing sun protection, these hats are very feminine and trendy. Then, finish your safari look with a straw or suede bag in neutral colors—consider both style and utility when selecting one.

Short-Sleeved Shirt

Let’s take a cue from the boys this summer and wear a boxy short-sleeved shirt. It’ll look great with beige tailored trousers, but it’ll also look great above a long-sleeved top once autumn comes.

Utility Jumpsuit

Simply choose a jumpsuit in a neutral color with a boxy fit and pockets to achieve the safari look.

Safari Jacket

The safari jacket is another iconic piece that never goes out of style. The modern-day iterations of the latest utility jacket trend come belted with overly large pockets and in beige and khaki colorways.

Tailored Shorts

Safari shorts, tailored, long-line, and high-waisted, have been the fashion women’s go-to this summer. When paired with a chain necklace and a tank top, they can be extremely flattering if the length is just right.

Cargo Trousers


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Style cargo trousers with a chain necklace and pointed heels for a polished finish for an undeniably chic iteration that feels more grown-up.

Velcro Sandals

Unless you are pretty outdated with the trends, you’ve probably noticed that dad sandals are everywhere this summer. Undoubtedly among the most practical things on this list, a pair of velcro sandals can be worn on a safari while also ticking the trend box.

How to Wear the Safari Style in the Modern Era

Designers went on a sartorial safari in both the womenswear and menswear collections, with utility details and muted hues. It’s clear that no one wants to glorify big game hunting as more and more fashion houses choose to ban exotic animal skins and fur.

The safari trend is inspired by the cool, khaki-wearing style icons of the past, such as Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas In The Mist, actors Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in Out Of Africa, and even Prince Charles, who has been wearing safari jackets since the 1970s.

How do you update the safari look to make it more modern? The color scheme is crucial. Consider khaki stone, beige, green, and sandy tones that can be mixed and matched.

Shorts with patch pockets or chinos nod to the trend and can be paired with a tonal T-shirt. Swishy shirtdresses have a softer silhouette and can be dolled up with statement jewelry (for a pop of color) and heels or down with flat sandals. This guide to wearing sandals might help you with this dilemma!

Animal prints complement the urban jungle theme as well. Make a statement with a bold print dress or add intrigue to a neutral-toned outfit with some fierce footwear.

What Should You Wear on a Safari?

curly blonde woman holding retro vintage photo camera

Of course, safari fashion would not be called that if you do not wear it on a literal safari. The clothing you should bring on your safari trip will depend on the time of year and the type of safari you are going on. Nonetheless, there are some universally applicable tips.

There’s never been a better time to wear earthy colorways, khaki, cargo, prints, and a great hat. If you’re going on a safari and are worried about what to wear, don’t be. Here are a few easy-to-copy looks to help you dress for the outdoors.

Silk Print Set

No rule says you can’t try to blend in with the wildlife. The animal print fabric is eye-catching and will make you stand out. The silky soft material is ideal for those lengthy scenic game drives, providing a comfortable fit without sacrificing style.

If you like to stand out, pair it with some minimal gold jewelry, and you’ll be ready to make a statement.

Cargo Set

When you see someone dressed in cargo, you know they’re serious about their business. Nothing says safari chic like a well-fitting cargo outfit. Cargo pants are an exciting and comfortable option for creating an outstanding outfit. There’s a reason Karen Blixen wears cargo throughout the film “Out of Africa.”

Combining cargo with accessories in a similar color brings the whole look together. Whether ankle boots or Doc Martens, a pair of boots is the best option.

The White Shirt

We’ve been looking for ways to make the white shirt larger than just an item to wear to work for a long time. A safari is yet another opportunity to show off your white shirt; there is no greater way to beat the heat in the savanna.

Take it a step further by pairing the shirt with a printed skirt. You spend almost all of your time in the car being driven around, so you might as well look nice while doing it.

Dress It Up


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There is no reason for leaving your dresses at home. You not only get to glamping (glamorous camping) or laze around the camp the whole day when you aren’t out on walks or drives. Bring sleeveless dresses and belts to elevate the style and get more wear out of a solitary dress.

Don’t be afraid to wear wedges to intimate dinners.

The Tracksuit

Of course, as with any other type of travel, comfort is essential. Tracksuits appear to have withstood the test of time in fashion, making a constant comeback with many materials and colors to choose from.

Morning game drives are notoriously chilly, and the tracksuit is your one-stop-shop for warmth and comfort on those chilly mornings. Wear a pair of boots to elevate this look from basic to chic. It is both comfortable and stylish.

The Jumpsuit

It would be a shame not to highlight the classic khaki Jumpsuit. This piece is unquestionably the epitome of Safari style. With just one piece, you appear to have it all together.

The best colors to choose are jungle green or brown. Having it cinched at the waist will draw attention to anyone’s curves. Put on your knee-high boots to enhance the look, taking it from street fashion to safari fashion.


Who said you couldn’t take leather into the wilderness? Because we’ve honestly never heard of such a thing. A plain leather skirt is lovely, but a snake print skirt is out of this world. When paired with subtle brown tones, you’ll look like a fashionista.

A hat and a coat add a touch of class to this daring look. Take your leather pieces on your next safari; the limitless pairing possibilities.

The Shirt Dress

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Shirt dresses are almost always a perfect fit. This one falls almost as low as a maxi dress. Pairing it with boots and a chunky belt is a great way to make it stand out in the wild. To remain bold but sophisticated, keep it neutral.

It is no secret that smartphones, technology, and social media have altered how we dress, travel, and do almost everything. “If you didn’t catch it on camera, it didn’t happen” has become the norm. This comes with the additional pressure of finding a balance between looking good and being comfortable while traveling.

Fortunately, the internet provides many opportunities to feed our inner chic wanderlust. Safaris are more than just trips to be one with nature and see animals; they are also an opportunity to express yourself creatively. You must plan your safari outfits in the same way you plan your weather or appropriate outfits for the cultural context.

Traveling and looking fantastic is an experience that everyone should have. There is no moment to be bored in such a beautiful world, let alone in a boring outfit.

Getting some great shots of the scenery and yourself makes it worthwhile. So, get out there and slay your upcoming safari.