Friday, January 17, 2014

How to wear dogtooth or houndstooth: DOs and DONTs

Wardrobe variation
Dogtooth or houndstooth is the perfect addition to a wardrobe full of solids (black, grey, navy...), especially in winter, not only in the form of a garment (a dress, a coat), but also an accessory (a handbag, a bracelet, or even a pair of shoes). It is also a great companion to strong blocks of colour.
Many designers revisit this pattern every year, especially among the British. Classic dogtooth is usually in black and white, but when it is really fashionable it can be found in other colours, or even mixed with animal prints (Dolce & Gabbana come to mind: green snake print and black and white houndstooth, that is, completely over the top, as one would expect from them).
How to wear houndstooth
Houndstooth is a graphic pattern that can make a big statement, so beware!
  1. Chose a colour combination that looks good on you. The contrast it creates in B&W looks amazing only on Deep Winters and Deep Autumns (near their face, that is). In theory, also on Clear Springs, but I really do not recommend it, as I find it quite overpowering... why chose B&W when other colour combinations could be so much more flattering?
  2. Choose the right size: big prints look good on big ladies, while petites would look overwhelmed, and viceversa.
  3. Chose good tailoring. If this is a universal rule, it becomes even more important with graphic prints: the pattern should match at all seams perfectly, and the line it creates at the hem should be straight.
  1. Let the print or its colour overwhelm you: soft seasons should avoid this pattern in B&W and, in general, high contrast in their prints altogether. Petites should choose a small to medium size pattern, and tall, full-size women shouldn't wear minute prints.
  2. Choose an inexpensive looking material, houndstooth has to be sharp and good quality or it looks very cheap indeed. No PU handbags either!

Houndstooth IV

Happiness by Caroline Grant. A wardrobe of black and or gray can be accentuated by a dogtooth print. I actually wear this outfit, although with shoes, not boots (I don't like how my legs look with shorter skirts in boots). I just love how the print pops against the skirt and the rest of the outfit in plain black.

Hobbs Dogtooth Scarf / Unlimited Shrunken Tux Jacket / James Perse Turtleneck Top / Hobbs Ella Skirt / Dooney & Bourke Tassel Handbag / Hobbs Lucy Boots / Tory Burch Opera Gloves / Alejandra Ring / Tom Ford Lipstick in Rouge Fatal / Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Smoke Red.

Houndstooth I

Equality by Caroline Grant. Dogtooth looks great next to any amount of bright colour, a dress here. The rest should be kept pretty simple, although there are some nice details.
The dress, for instance, has a lateral ruched seam that will do wonders for Body type Bs and Cs with a little extra in the middle. Consider that the jacket and gloves have a medium shine, while the shoes are suede: it's better to mix a couple of different textures of leather when you get dress, rather than going hyper-coordinated. L.K. Bennett makes this dress every season in different colours and materials, but the quality is not uniform. At all. Nude hosiery.
The earrings are antique and, therefore, quite expensive. Many brands do, however, lovely earrings with nice, good quality Austrian or Bohemian crystals (the best, by far, and not necessarily Swarovski).

Dolce & Gabanna Cropped Houndstooth Jacket / L.K. Bennett Davina Dress / Dooney & Bourke Tassel Handbag / Manolo Blahnik Carolyne Slingback Shoes / Aspinal of London Gloves / Anton Heunis Jet Black Carved Ring / Victorian French Jet Earrings at Trocadero (antique) / Nars Lipstick in Funny Face / MAC Nail Lacquer in Steamy.

Houndstooth III

Respect by Caroline Grant. An A-line, straight or pencil skirt in houndstooth is a great option for winter with an all-black outfit. A skirt that hits just above your knee would need to be complemented by a top with no décolleté, remember. I does not need to be a turtleneck, you can try a slash neck too or equivalent. It is not just that you would be showing too much skin, it's also that you could look short-waisted too. Black thick tights, please.
The coat is perfect for Body type As (short wide lapels, and the storm patches). Yes, it's 100% polyester, but then again, these coats usually are... easy to wash, though.
The pair of gloves is beautiful but pricey. What about adding a knitted arm to your leather gloves? Creating some sort of elastic by knitting is relatively easy, and the variety of colours huge. You can start with your basic black and/or brown pair.

Hobbs Damara Skirt / Temperley of London Cashmere Sweater / Hobbs Worcester Coat / Max and Co. Tote Handbag / Clarks  / Joan Shepp Leather and Cashmere Gloves / Monies Necklace / Estée Lauder Lipstick in Scarlet Siren.

Houndstooth II

Courage by Caroline Grant. An example of brown and beige dogtooth in the sweater top, perfect for Autumns. The contrast with the pattern in the jacket is subtle and acceptable. The jacket is great for Body type Cs (who look best in two/three-button jackets).
A long line for the legs is created with the boots, the skirt and nude hosiery.
A rather striking lipstick colour is accompanied by a neutral nail lacquer and makes the brooch pop (OK, they make each other pop). You can wear the charm bracelet over your gloves, so it will be visible peeping from the jacket's arms.

Jack Wills Austerberry Blazer Jacket / Circus Hotel Sweater / Lauren by Ralph Lauren Anika Skirt / Kate Spade Pilgrim Hill Quinn Handbag / Charles by Charles Davis Cory Boots / Dooney & Bourke Side Stichted Gloves / Alexis Bittar Amaryllis Brooch / Old Navy Colored Enamel Hoop Earrings / Paco Rabanne Vintage Charm Bracelet / Tom Ford Lipstick in Wild Ginger / Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Créme Brûlée.

You can follow the label Know your prints.

All these covers have created quite a stir but, after all, is that not what art is supposed to inspire?:
Background image for Happiness: The New Yorker cover June 2012 June Brides, by Gayle Kabaker. The magazine’s art editor, Françoise Mouly, found the image through her Blown Covers blog. Every week, she hosts a cover contest on the blog, open to all, with themes that closely mirror those she suggests to her regular contributors, from Father’s Day to books to the theme that reeled this image in: weddings. Kabaker was the first artist to make the leap from blog to cover. You can read some of the ideas it suggested to people by this cover at Nicole's blog
Background image for Equality: The New Yorker cover June 1994 June Grooms,  by Jacques de Loustal. Every year, The New Yorker dedicates June to weddings, and June 1994 was dedicated, for the first time, to a gay couple.
Background image for Respect: The New Yorker cover June 1994 Girls Will Be Girls by Anita Kunz. Some ideas this cover has inspired at
Background image for Courage: The New Yorker cover February 1993, The Kiss, by Art Spiegelman. This image was Spiegelman' first cover for The New Yorker to commemorate Valentine's Day, and caused quite a controversy, as it depicted a male Orthodox Jew and a black woman kissing. According to an interview with the author in the UPenn Gazette, his intention was to represent the two communities "making up" after the racial tension of the Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn.

This post does not contain any affiliated links.
This post first appeared October 2nd 2012. The sets have been changed and the information edited and expanded.

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