Origin of the word “houndstooth” and it’s back in fashion

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Houndstooth pattern

It’s hot off the press, fashion’s new favourite print is the houndstooth pattern which is named after the teeth of a dog and is also known as shepherd’s check. It is a two-tone textile pattern of Scottish origin which even has an entry on Wikipedia. It goes back to between 360 and 100 BC, believe it or not. It appears to have originated as a pattern in woven tweed cloth from the Scottish Lowlands worn by shepherds but the word ‘houndstooth’ to describe the pattern was not used before 1936.

Houndstooth pattern

Houndstooth pattern. Photo of German shepherd dog: Pixabay. Houndstooth pattern : Wikipedia.

In today’s Times newspaper we’re told that this broken monochrome check is back in fashion and rather than being worn by Scottish shepherds it is now worn by Vogue staffers. And fashion houses such as Dior and Celine have it on anoraks and bucket hats this season. Giorgio Armani has put it on slacks and the pattern is on coats at Nina Ricci.

In the UK, online searches for houndstooth coats have doubled in January indicating strong sales of this fashion trend. The Times journalist implies that the coronavirus pandemic’s lockdowns encourage the purchase of houndstooth coats for the obvious reason that people are forced outside to walk in parks provided they do so under the current regulations governing social distancing and travelling to parks for exercise.

Perhaps, when I go to Richmond Park over the forthcoming days I might be lucky enough to see the houndstooth pattern on an elegant visitor. Although judging by the amount of mud in the park at the moment I’m not sure that it is safe to wear a Haute Couture quilted anorak in this pattern at £2,800 for recreational exercise.