What To Wear To The Zoo
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Have you ever felt a pang of jealousy when you go to the zoo and you see that more people are looking at a komodo dragon than they are at you?
The sad fact of the matter is that you’re never going to be able to out-style a lion, a tiger, or a bear. It’s depressing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to steal people’s gazes away from some of nature’s most majestic creatures.
Of course, I’m not endorsing some type of stylistic warfare. Instead, I’m reminding you that you can look fashionable even when you’re surrounded by stunning wild animals.
Today, I’ll help you learn what to wear to the zoo. In this guide, I’ll explore the history of zoos, explain how to select the best pieces for your trip, give you a few quick styling tips, and share some things you should avoid at all costs.
After viewing my lineup of zoo outfits, you’ll know how to build a look that’s perfect for you. Also, you’ll know all about these topics and more:
- Casual what to wear to the zoo outfits
- What to wear to the zoo female attire
- Cute outfits to wear to the zoo
What Makes Up A Zoo Outfit?
There isn’t one set template that defines what to wear to the zoo. Zoo outfits aren’t the same as safari outfits after all—so you don’t need to wear a khaki jumpsuit or goggles.
However, there are some common items you’ll often find cropping up in outfits that people wear to the zoo.
For example, most people wear light– or neutral–colored shirts to the zoo so that they don’t attract too much heat. They can come in the form of T-shirts, crop tops, button-ups, or tank tops.
People play it pretty tame on the bottom half of their bodies as well. Many folks wear trousers, shorts, or leggings at the zoo. Plus, they’ll usually wear sneakers or sandals on their feet since they’re easy to walk in.
In addition, you’ll notice that sunglasses and hats are frequently mentioned in ‘what to wear to the zoo’ guides.
These are the two most pivotal accessories as they’ll allow you to stay out in the sun for longer without feeling too hot or damaging your eyes.
History Of Zoos
You might be surprised to find out how far back the history of zoos actually stretches.
It may seem like it’s only been in recent years that we’ve had access to the technology necessary to enclose animals, the knowledge needed to adequately take care of them, and the marketing to effectively advertise rare breeds.
In those regards, you’re right, but on the other hand, you couldn’t be more wrong! Zoos have been around for nearly 3,000 years. In fact, they date all the way back to Ancient Egypt where they were used as a way for pharaohs to display their wealth.
The difference between then and now is that we don’t use animals to flex. Instead, we wear cute outfits to the zoo to strut our stuff. We’re also not pharaohs, but that’s beside the point.
Zoos began to resemble their modern counterpart sometime around the 1400s when travelers were able to scout out and capture animals from foreign lands. They would retrieve these animals, bring them back to their home nations, then display them in capital cities.
Since concepts like humanitarianism, extinction, and preservation had yet to be created, these first zoos were rather barbaric.
I won’t get into the details too much, but I will say that the animals in these zoos were not well taken care of. This was the case for the next several hundred years as zoo owners prioritized profits and crowd sizes over ‘silly little things’ like animal welfare.
The most famous of these zoos was King Louis XIV‘s menagerie located in Versailles, France.
It’s not all bad news though, as there was a small but devoted group of humanitarians that helped transform zoos from being proverbial playgrounds for the wealthy to becoming educational centers for the masses.
This cultural shift occurred slowly over time until it eventually overtook the establishment sometime around the dawn of the 20th century.
These movements were backed by local groups that wanted to open zoos to the public. And as technology became more accessible post-World War II, zoos were better able to cater to the common folk.
Further improvements have been incremental. For instance, in recent years, zoos have become knowledge hubs where people can learn about the planet they share with millions of other species.
Zoos have their own set of limitations that don’t really affect what to wear to the zoo. However, they do affect how they can serve customers.
These have to do with space issues, adequately feeding their animals, supporting their animals over the long term, and cracking down on animal cruelty.
Each of these issues must be handled delicately and with a different mindset depending on which type of zoo we’re talking about. Currently, some of the most popular zoo formats include:
- Petting zoos
- Safari zoos
- Immersive zoos
- Roadside safaris
- Animal theme parks
4 Zoo Outfit Ideas
The first zoo outfit on my list has everything you’d want for a day spent on your feet. Comfortable shoes? Check. Biking shorts so that you can stay mobile throughout your visit? Check. A generous yet stylish fanny pack to store all your goods? Check.
Yes, this outfit is about as tame as a children’s show, but that’s not the point. Tame outfits can work so long as you show that you care. This model does that by wearing black and white—giving her ensemble a bit of edge and casual flair.
And I must point this out. She has two different water bottles, which is absolutely essential when you’re planning what to wear to the zoo. You don’t want to get heat stroke or buy an overpriced bottle of tap water, do you?
There’s always the lurking question of what to wear to the zoo if your style falls outside of the box. Well, my go-to answer is always to include an item that most people would be too afraid to wear which, in this case, is a pair of overalls for men.
Be careful with these bad boys. Not only are they so hot that you might need to handle them with oven mitts, but it’s easy to buy a pair of overalls that are either too tight or too tacky. The pair in this photo sidesteps both those problems due to their relaxed fit and a black colorway.
I also adore how the model kept things simple yet elegant with regards to the shoes and the shirt. There’s nothing much to report about the Converse Chuck 70s. They’re classic and always reliable in a pinch, but that off-white buttoned shirt has me swooning.
Remember, zoos usually don’t close until a few weeks into the fall, meaning that you should still know what to wear to the zoo when temperatures start to drop. A jacket and a beanie might do fine, but outfits like this one capture the safari essence of a zoo.
What really gives this look its explorer vibes are the matching boots and sunhat. They’re both cream-colored and have a similar ‘off-roading-but-with-a-city-girl-heart’ aesthetic.
They’re the main pieces of this outfit. Even so, that doesn’t mean that the other items are irrelevant.
Also, knit sweaters are always a plus in my books. They’re a great way to give your outfit a rustic vibe which can make an ensemble look less ‘urban mom’ and more ‘adventure-ready.’
And what else goes better with pieces of different textures than a pair of black jeans? They’re the Swiss army knife of fashion, after all.
Another great option for what to wear to the zoo is the classic and elegant white T-shirt and black trousers. This pairing is always welcome—especially at places where the focus is more on the attractions than on yourself.
I advise you to pick a pair of pants like the bottoms in the photo that promote physical activity rather than stifling your stride. Basically, you should wear a pair that you actually want to walk around in rather than pants that are going to strangle your legs like two sausages in a sauna.
In addition, the easiest way to elevate this ensemble without overcomplicating it is by choosing the right accessories.
This model is sporting a metallic silver watch, a bold pair of black shades, and a chain on his right hip. These are all smart choices because they don’t detract from the outfit’s simplicity.
What Type Of Zoo Outfits Can You Get?
Beyond the ‘what to wear to the zoo’ ideas that I just supplied you with, there are other ensembles that are just as attractive. Here are a few more stylish options:
- A denim jacket, a white undershirt, black jeans, and white sneakers
- A sun dress and open-toed sandals
- A floral shirt, Bermuda shorts, and boat shoes
- A polo shirt, khaki pants, and white sneakers
- A romper, a tote bag, and slip-on shoes
How To Choose The Best Zoo Outfits
When considering what to wear to the zoo, it’s not always necessary for you to buy new clothes. You likely already have some evergreen pieces in your closet that are just waiting for their chance to shine.
The difficulty is knowing which items are going to look and feel the best at the zoo.
Basically, whether you’re buying new clothes or sifting through your current wardrobe, don’t do so blindly. When planning what to wear to the zoo, there are some factors that will determine how appropriate a piece will be for the occasion.
Firstly, you’ll want to wear thinner clothes since you’ll likely be spending an entire day at the zoo in hot weather. So choose shirts, pants, and jackets that are breathable so that you won’t get too sweaty walking around in the sun.
You might think that means that your baggiest linen pants are the best option, but that’s incorrect. The next thing you’ll want to consider is how large the piece of clothing is.
The zoo is no place for garments that are going to blow in the wind or hang off of your body. Clothes like those are more likely to end up in the mouths of the animals than actually staying on your body. That means you should choose clothes that fit your physique.
Also, if you’re visiting a store to find what to wear to the zoo, then think about the fabric. You’ll want to choose items that are airy and lightweight so that you can relax while you’re outside at the zoo.
How To Style Zoo Outfits
First of all, when thinking about what to wear to the zoo, consider the context. You’re going to an enclosed area in the middle of the summer where animals are only an arm’s reach away from you.
Plus, you’re going to be doing plenty of walking, and you won’t be the center of attention unless you’re somehow more fashionable than a peacock.
Keep that reality in mind when deciding what to wear to the zoo. The form and function of your pieces will be much more important than their trendiness.
Given that, I recommend building an outfit that contains minimal yet striking accessories, simple layers, and a solid pair of shoes.
Let’s start with how to style a bag. Clutches, tote bags, and shoulder bags all have their place among zoo outfits.
They can add another layer to your style while providing a useful way to carry your things. Yet, you should carry a bag that sits close to your body so that animals can’t reach into it or grab it.
Meanwhile, when it comes to hats, simpler is better at the zoo. Baseball caps are great because they’re less likely to blow away in the wind and you can adjust them to fit your head.
Sunhats are also a solid option, but be careful not to wear one that’s so big that a giraffe can pick it up like it’s a leaf.
Finally, sunglasses are mandatory unless you want to spend the whole day squinting at lions. Plus, these are the simplest accessory to add to your outfit and they always give your look a dash of intrigue.
Fashion Tips To Avoid With Zoo Outfits
Some zoos will have dress codes, but these are more to protect visitors than to promote dogmatic fashion principles. The most common clothing advisory is to not wear anything too loose.
This doesn’t mean you can’t wear oversized shirts or pants, but that you shouldn’t wear anything that dangles off of your body.
Again, this is a safety precaution. Clothing that’s too large can be grabbed or bitten by the animals in the zoo. Not only is that a risk to your safety, but it could also negatively affect the animal. So, it’s best to keep the flowy dresses at home.
That also goes for loose hats. I know that I included a sun hat when I gave you some ideas of what to wear to the zoo earlier, and I stand by that, but you should wear it with caution.
Baseball caps are okay, but if you’re going to wear a hat then it should be one that you can adjust. That way it’ll fit snuggly on your head and won’t easily blow away.
Along those lines, you should limit your accessories to the absolute essentials and nothing more. Animals can swallow the rings on your fingers, pull on your necklaces, or bite your dangly earrings. So, it’s just not worth it to wear any of those items at the zoo.
Finally, animals poop. Shocker, I know, but it’s true. Some animals have more freedom than others and there isn’t a staff member always following them around to scoop up their droppings at a second’s notice.
That being the case, I advise you to avoid wearing your nicest shoes to the zoo. Basically, you should wear shoes that you don’t prize too heavily that still look good.
How To Take Care Of Zoo Outfits
I’m going to answer the question ‘how can you protect what you wear to the zoo from animals?’ The easiest solution is preventative: follow the tips on what you should avoid wearing and you’ll save yourself plenty of trouble.
Beyond that, you’ll want to keep your hands to yourself—unless you’re at a petting zoo—to reduce the risk of an erratic run-in with an animal. Those situations will be the times when your zoo outfit is at the greatest risk of being damaged.
Best Places To Buy Zoo Outfits
The best places to buy garments that make up zoo outfits are stores that carry summer–ready clothes. Some of my favorite picks include:
- Banana Republic
- Frank and Oak
- Coal Miner’s Daughter
If you know what to wear to the zoo then you’re guaranteed to have a great time. It’s not necessary for you to dress like an archaeologist, an anthropologist, or an acrobat taking the stage after a lion jumps through a flaming hoop.
What matters more is that you wear clothes that reflect who you are and allow you to have the most fun that you humanly can at a place where the focus is on everything but the humans.
Looking to up your fashion game? We’ve got you covered: