Dressing Up Your Pets

Whatever kind of pet you have, and whatever your own fashion style might be, you can find just the right outfit for your animal companion.

An example of pet clothing - Dog dressed up with bows carrying tennis ball in mouth.

Pet clothing can range from the practical to the playful, with retailers offering endless options.

When Madonna sang "Strike a pose" in her 1980s hit, "Vogue," you can bet she wasn't talking about high fashion for pets. How things have changed! Now, whatever kind of pet you have, and whatever your fashion style might be, you can find just the right outfit for your animal companion.

Retailers such as Old Navy and Land's End sell pet clothes right next to the sweaters, jackets, and hats they sell to their two-legged customers. Search for "pet clothing" online and the options are endless. From basic to bling, fashion options abound for dogs, cats, ferrets, and even pigs who want to strut their stuff.

For years, caring pet owners have dressed their dogs in sweaters and coats to protect them on rainy and snowy walks. Boots can keep dogs' paws warm and dry, and safe from the harsh salt used to melt ice on sidewalks. In the past few years, however, thanks to high profile Chihuahuas like Paris Hilton's Tinkerbell, and movies like Legally Blonde and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, pet fashion has moved from practical to playful.

If you've got a favorite sports team, your dog can join you on the couch or at your next tailgating (!!) party wearing a bandana, football jersey, varsity jacket, or a baseball cap emblazoned with your team's logo. Want to take Fido to the beach? He'll be one gnarly dude in his Hawaiian print board shorts and sunglasses....and don't forget the doggy sunscreen! Going sailing? If the weather turns a bit stormy when you're out on the ocean, Fido can don a weather-resistant squall jacket, complete with reflective binding exactly like the one you'll be wearing. Bring Fido along to the coffee shop with you dressed in jeans or trendy camouflage pants. And if you're heading out on your hog, don't forget to outfit Fido or Fluffy in matching leathers, complete with the Harley Davidson logo.

Searching for something suitable for a more festive occasion? You can array your pet in formal attire ranging from basic rhinestone-studded collars to tuxedos, top hats, satin gowns, and tiaras. Sparkling jeweled necklaces, some crafted with semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystals and with price tags to match, can be ordered or custom-designed to complement any outfit. High-end retailers, such as Coach and Burberry, also offer status-conscious pets (and their owners) the chance to dress to impress.

Pet clothing may not be for every animal, such as this Tabby cat dressed in Santa Claus costume sitting among colorful lights.

At holiday time, you might consider dressing your pet in something festive, but don't force them if they resist.

Your cat might not take to dressing up as easily as your dog does, but if you are lucky enough to own a cat with a passion for fashion, there's quite a selection available for you, too. Cats can wear any article of clothing sized to fit a small dog. At holiday time, why not consider matching "Meowy Christmas" t-shirts for you and your feline? After bathtime, wrap Fluffy up in a snuggly hooded towel or a silky robe.

Even small animals like ferrets can become fashion icons. Shop online to buy bandanas, hoodies, sweaters, fleece vests, hats, t-shirts, and biker jackets sized just right for ferrets, gerbils, and guinea pigs. On the larger end of the pet spectrum, the potbellied pigs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary have been photographed wearing elegant, custom-made quilted jackets.

Putting clothing on an animal is not for every pet owner. It should go without saying that if your dogs, cats, or ferrets are resistant to your efforts to dress them up, don't force them into doing it for your amusement. But if your pets seem to share your love of fashion, there's no reason not to indulge your urge to splurge.