Houndstooth could be called the grown-up version of plaid.
Worn with the right combo of black stack-heel boots and a simple sweater, this zigzaggy check in a pencil skirt can instantly transform an outfit from ho-hum to interesting.
Plaid has made fashion headlines for several seasons now, but houndstooth ups the style ante with its jagged edges shaped like those of a hound's tooth. And this classic pattern isn't just for women's clothing. You'll find it in accessories, menswear and home décor.
One of the biggest recent houndstooth enthusiasts has been Gwen Stefani and her L.A.M.B. label.
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Even Lady Gaga has been spotted wearing this classic pattern — albeit over the top, including a head-to-toe Salvatore Ferragamo ensemble with houndstooth hat, glasses, dress and clutch.
Guys, too, can rock the houndstooth look. Crittenden Rawlings, a 50-year veteran of the men's fashion industry who has worked with Oxxford, Norman Hilton and Ralph Lauren, knows a thing or two about men's fashion and classic patterns you'll see popping up in the mainstream now and then.
"Houndstooth is a very, very classic design for women and men, and it comes in many, many colors," Rawlings said. He said it's a variation of what the Scots call the shepherds check, made with a twill weave.
Rawlings and business partner Stuart Mercer have opened a men's clothing stores in Midway and Crittenden's Upstairs, above Bella Rose at Maxwell and Upper streets in Lexington.
He carries houndstooth pieces for men at both stores, including sport coats and a flannel camel-and-cream houndstooth checked shirt.
"In most cases, the houndstooth check most often than not is a sport coat," Rawlings said. You can get it in a suit, he said, but at that point, the pattern itself is made smaller so as not to overpower the entire suit.
But in housewares, the bigger the pattern the better, with bold houndstooth prints available in curtains, rugs and furniture.