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What is Houndstooth?

Houndstooth is a classic, duotone pattern characterized by broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes, often in black and white. Originating in Scotland, this timeless design has graced various fabrics and fashion pieces, exuding elegance and sophistication. How has houndstooth remained a staple in the ever-evolving world of fashion? Join us as we unravel its enduring appeal.
Cathy Rogers
Cathy Rogers

Houndstooth is a two-toned textile design or pattern that consists of small broken or jagged checks. Also called four-in-four check, guncheck or sometimes dogstooth, its origin is likely Scottish. The houndstooth check is formed by alternating bands of four dark bands and four light bands both lengthwise and crosswise in a woven pattern.

Generally, the two colors are light and dark, such as black and white or brown and white, but can also be woven of different colors. The design forms a four-pointed star. The size of the checks varies.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Houndstooth has stood the test of time. Considered a classic, houndstooth has been a fashion trend several times in history, with peaks during the 1930s, the 1970s and then again in the first decade of 2000. Often used in woolens, houndstooth is also found in cotton and silk fabrics.

It is often used for coats, blazers and other outdoor wear, and also dresses and skirts. In the early 1800s it was found in scarves and hoop skirts. But over time, it became popular for home item and accessories, such as handbags, headbands and umbrellas. It has even become popular for trendy animal care items, such as collars and bowls.

In the late 1960s, designer Geoffrey Beene mixed the classic pattern with lace in dresses. Also in the late 1960s, Chevrolet used a black and white houndstooth pattern to upholster some of its Camaro line of vehicles. In 2005-06, houndstooth made a fashion comeback when designers such as Chanel, Emporio Armani, and Louis Vuitton featured the bold pattern in their designs.

A similar pattern is known as Glen plaid. Glen plaid is a pattern in which two light and two dark stripes alternate with four light and four dark stripes, both vertically and horizontally. Like houndstooth, this forms a crossing pattern of irregular checks.

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