The story behind Houndstooth and how to style

Houndstooth or as the French say pied de poule, is one of the most recognizable iconic prints. Up there with prince of wales plaid, stripes and polka dots, houndstooth is known for its black and white timeless appeal. Both modern and classic this chic pattern is certainly having an on-trend moment! (Cue Lady Gaga and Beyoncé) 

Houndstooth origins

Before Rhianna got her hands on a houndstooth bucket hat this distinctive dogtooth pattern originated like most woven wool fabrics...in Scotland. Usually Scottish fabrics are tied to the aristocracy — the Mackenzies, the Macintoshes, the Andrews and other clans each had its own exclusive tartan. It hasn’t been shown that houndstooth belongs to any particular family, but is believed to have been created by individuals not belonging to a clan. Dating sometime between 360 AD and 100 AC houndstooth originated in the Scottish lowlands near the Anglo Saxon border, that’s why it's also called Border Tartan. As one of the more ancient tartan types, houndstooth is believed to have been created by non-clansman and originally made on a woven wool cloth. From the most humble beginnings houndstooth was worn by shepherds as an outer garment. According to “The Costume of Scotland” by John Telfer Dunbar it was worn by Scottish shepherd’s for protection, because from a distance the pattern colors blend together making the figure appear afar. Ohhhh... an ancient (and very chic) camouflage!

Let’s get technical for those of us that like the nitty gritty. Houndstooth check is a two-toned textile pattern. At its beginnings it was a wool cloth weaving white sheep wool for the lighter checks and a darker wool for the contrasting black ones, usually from a naturally tinted wool weaving or simply from a black sheep. It is made with alternating bands of four dark and four light threads in both warp and weft – two over and two under the warp created a sort of broken check or jagged shape giving the woven its name. Because of the abstract four-pointed shape the pattern was referred to as “shepherd’s check,” “dogtooth” and “puppytooth" for a mini check, awwww!

After many centuries dogstooth lost its purpose as a utilitarian pattern and started to be acquired by high society. Much like stripes being adopted from sailors  Houndstooth started to pop up as a way for the higher class to refresh style. In the 1930s, the houndstooth pattern was adapted by the wealthy. In 1950 pied-de-poule becomes a favorite of  Christian Dior. He loved the pattern symbolism so much, his first fragrance was packaged in the bicolor pattern to highlight the dualism of Miss Dior. 

Stark optical art came on the scene in the 60s and the pied de poule broken checks fit right in with psychedelic and optical illusion art movement. At the same time houndstooth starts to appear on catwalks. Some memorable runway moments include Oscar de la Renta’s 1992 show and then there is Alexander McQueen 2009 runway. Boom. If you ever need a reminder how current and awe inspiring this timeless pattern can be used - refer to McQueens 2009 total houndstooth catwalk.  (pictured below.)

From 2010 onwards the pattern is continuously used across couture from Chanel to Ferragamo to ready-to-wear and still remains so strikingly vogue. More recently Beyoncé wore a head to toe houndstooth look in her groundbreaking movie, Black is King. 

How to wear plus size houndstooth

We love this pattern so much we created a capsule collection with graphic houndstooth pattern play at the center. Through partnership with our factories we curated houndstooth dead stock material and crafted sustainable mindful pieces using left the over stock from other brands over-production. This allowed us to nod to the past while looking to the future.

Speaking of houndstooth and timelessness its impossible not to mention menswear. Menswear inspired design is a factor for See ROSE Go. Think how a man will shop for a suit, looking for quality first, fit and lasting style. These elements are a core part of See ROSE Go design. You can see this in our most recent capsule with our Tunic Shacket in … yes houndstooth! Traditionally a go-to for menswear (and upholstery) for its long lasting style and mix and match compatibility. 

Try layering our black and white Soft Houndstooth Tunic Shirt over the black Gentlewoman Turtleneck and Off-Duty Faux Leather Legging. Top it off with a back fedora and thick belt for an event. Change the hat and leggings out for black tights and booties and you have an instant back to the office look. Next, make it casual by switching it up with the white turtleneck and denim. Now you have a more relaxed but put-together outfit. The Houndstooth Tunic Shirt was designed to be multi-purposed. During the winter there is nothing more fabulous than patterned outerwear. Layer the shirt unbuttoned, add a scarf and gloves for a lightweight outerwear piece. Fashion history doesn't lie, the pattern is statement enough on its own to finish a look, from dress to shacket you can style the Tunic Shirt as a dress with booties and socks, wear it with casual separates, like a white t-shirt and blue skinny jeans, or make it look gorgeous with black tailored trousers and white blouse.  Hope this is getting your creative style juices flowing wink, wink! 

How does this ancient pattern maintain an omnipresence, on the runway, high street and as a stand out in celebrity style? It’s quite simple: Houndstooth has a timeless appeal that will never go out of style. It can be combined with absolutely anything for every occasion. This textile pattern is most often seen in black and white in many shapes and styles. Today’s fashion designers recreate multicolor variations and size like our mini puppytooth version and our extreme blown-up black and white Redo Houndstooth Cardigan! This pattern carries longevity simply because of its classic duotone black and white modernity. It is what you make it. You want outlandish take it to the extreme like Lady Gaga and her matching houndstooth piano, more subtle classic take a hint from Princess Diana and throw on a houndstooth blazer. If you like this pattern, then then there is a look for you.

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