By Allison Daniels
Houndstooth has been around for centuries. Originally a print used on the outerwear of shepherds in the Scottish Lowlands, the design (also known as dogstooth and shepherd’s check), has experienced countless iterations since its inception.
Perhaps the cause of its modern day popularity, the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson (the woman for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the throne) made it her print of choice in the 1920s. A decade later (1938 to be exact), Christian Dior made his first big splash as a designer by creating a houndstooth suit, a quickly lauded trademark of his “new look”.
Houndstooth has since been a hallmark of the restrained, elegant manner of high society. Worn by royalty (Queen Elizabeth II above, is a fan) as well as figurative royalty (the suit above belonged to Jackie Kennedy Onassis), houndstooth has long enjoyed its association with refinement.
Pimms Cup anyone?
In its most recent revival, fashion risk-takers like Teresa Palmer, Fan Bing Bing and Lady GaGa (l-r, above), and Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow below, the tooth has taken on a more playful personality.
Now, houndstooth is not something you have to wear head-to-toe (though Ferragamo’s hugely popular dress certainly gives you that option), but it’s most likely to be paired with a little bit of attitude (or, in Lady GaGa’s case, a LOT of attitude plus matching sunglasses, hat and clutch). Gwyneth chooses to modernize the print with bright red booties to great effect.
The new way to bear tooth is to offer up punchy print accents with bold brights, or to try it the traditional design in untraditional colors. Pair a houndstooth shoe or clutch with a coordinating print, or add a bright solid for graphic interest. For celeb examples, take a look at Alexa Chung and Ashley Greene’s houndstooth accessories to solid, knee-length frocks.
Above, right, Alexa rocks houndstooth again, this time with shades that seem a little more practical than Lady Gaga’s, making it work with a small floral print in complimentary colors (eggshell and navy). One of our favorites, Jayma Mays (above, left), styles houndstooth in a playful-but-preppy, sexy-but-demure way. Jayma pairs a menswear-inspired houndstooth blazer with a slinky mini-skirt and horse-print sweater, and finishes the look with metallic heels.
What’s great about this trend is that it can really add interest to any look – formal or casual, proper or cheeky. All you have to do is choose the statement you want to make. Here are a few adorable accessories if you just want to dip your toe in the houndstooth pool (and one or two apparel selections for when you’re ready to dive in headfirst). Click the pics to shop!