Polka-dots are one of the most iconic prints of all time, often associated with vintage styles and whimsical fashion statements. If you are in the mood to usher polka dots into your wardrobe but you’re unsure how, let us help you! We have put together a guide for how to wear polka dots, along with some stunning products to inspire you.
Let’s chat about how to pick the right polka dot size, colour, and how to style polka dot pieces.
Before you go ahead and search for your new polka-dot treats, let’s discuss different polka-dot sizes. Yes, that’s right, there’s more to polka-dots than you thought!
Large polka dots: large polka dots against a block base colour are cute, whimsical, and reminiscent of Mini Mouse (whether you see that as a good or bad thing is up to you). A garment covered in a large polka-dot print makes a statement saying you’re bold, feminine, and fun.
Mini polka dots: mini polka-dots are a subtler, more feminine take on polka-dots, fusing to create a less obvious aesthetic. For example, this Bardot dress is polka-dot through and through, but it’s not costumey or over the top. A small polka-dot print was often worn on dresses in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, on elegant day dresses and blouses. Take a look here for some stunning vintage polka-dot dresses to pore over!
Mix-and-match sizes: if you can’t choose, go for a mix-and-match approach and choose a fabric that fuses large and small dots. For example, this sweet dress utilizes the chicness of small polka-dots, with the statement contrast of larger dots.
In terms of body shape and polka-dot sizes, anything goes! It’s more about the fit, length, style, and colour story of the dress when it comes to finding the perfect match for your body and complexion.
Don’t get stuck on black and white
We often think of black and white when we think of polka dots (apart from the obvious yellow polka-dot bikini). However, coloured polka-dot prints can adjust the entire aesthetic and tone of the style. For example, this juicy orange and white dress puts a definitive summer spin on the look, complete with mix-and-match polka-dot styles. The dress is fun, feminine, youthful, and works achingly well with the model’s golden olive skin tone.
For a more pared-down, vintage-inspired approach, try the classic brown and white polka-dot colourway. If you’re a fan of 1990s rom coms you will recognize this style from Julia Roberts polo scene in ‘Pretty Woman’. Picture this blouse with a pair of high-waisted, wide-leg trousers in a creamy shade. It’s classic, clean, slightly cheeky, yet stylish to a tee. This is a great way to embrace the polka-dot look without veering toward the Minnie Mouse route.
Accessories are your friend when it comes to introducing new patterns, colours, and prints to your staple wardrobe. A simple uniform of jeans and a tee (always classic, never let it go!) can be elevated with a polka-dot scarf, bag, or even lapels and collars.
Accessorizing with a bold print shows an eye for style and a talent for subtlety. Plus, it makes your basic staples endlessly versatile, season after season. For example:
Scarves: it might be a thick scarf to lock out the winter chill in a polka-dot print, or a silk necktie to add a feminine demureness to a t-shirt.
Brooches and embellishments: take a leaf out of Carrie Bradshaw’s stylebook and add a floral lapel pin in polka-dot. This adds a sense of fun, youthfulness, and unique flair to your look without disrupting your go-to style.
Hats: a polka-dot trilby, baker-boy, floppy sun hat or even a beanie adjusts any outfit with a subtle-yet-deliberate jauntiness.
The Sheer Dot Polka-Dot Blouse
A sleek way to wear polka-dots, especially for work, is to go with a sheer polka-dot blouse such as this one. The sheer fabric and floaty sleeves provide softness and delicate texture. This is perfect for pairing with more robust pieces such as denim jeans, cotton drill cigarette pants, or a wrap skirt in leather or vegan leather. It’s also great for layering, with a silk camisole underneath and cropped leather moto-jacket on top.
The polka-dot midi skirt
The midi-skirt, especially slinky, bias-cut styles are in fashion, for good reason. They flatter the hips, leave room to show off your shoe selection, and work equally as well with casual graphic tees or formal silk blouses. The polka-dot midi-skirt allows you to embrace the look without going all-out with a dress or jumpsuit.
You can control the styling of your polka-dot midi dress with your choice of top. For example, you could take a mix-and-match, streetwear-meets-vintage approach with a plaid shirt tied at the waist. Or, pair your polka-dot midi with a low V-neck bodysuit tank and an open blazer for a classic, clean, yet kinda sexy approach.
This polka-dot midi with small polka-dots and button detail is the perfect example, as the high waist and gently-flared hem flatters most body types. It lends itself perfectly to any styling, such as a menswear shirt rolled at the sleeves, or even a festival-worthy crop-top as demonstrated in the photoshoot.
The polka-dot vintage dress
Lovers of all things vintage will drool over a vintage wiggle dress or the fit-and-flare style of Dior’s iconic New Look fashion of the late 1940s. Polka-dots and vintage dresses go hand in hand, like this wiggle dress in purple and white polka-dots.
Yes, this dress does veer on the side of costume, but is that so bad? As soon as you throw on your ankle boots or even your trainers, leather jacket, worn-in handbag and head out the door, it’s no longer costumey, it’s a fresh, 2020 take on vintage. A dress like this would be killer at a cocktail party or event, with a red lip and tall stilettos.
The polka-dot shoe
Hey, no-one said polka-dots have to be on your clothes! If you’re partial to simple and chic clothing in block tones, use your footwear to embrace prints.
A simple outfit with a pop of detail at the shoe (and perhaps a scarf or bag) is timelessly, effortlessly chic. Imagine these polka-dot slingbacks with a pair of cropped, raw-edge jeans, a plain v-neck slouchy tee, and a cropped denim jacket.
Clash polka and prints
A great way to create a sartorial statement and play with your collection is to clash prints. Streetwear is often characterized by eclectic mixtures of prints, patterns, and colours, thrown together with the expert eye of the individual. Imagine a polka-dot blouse, like the one linked above, paired with a floral midi skirt or a pair of high-waisted pants in a bold stripe. Or, layer a polka-dot dress with a plaid coat or tropical floral jacket. Have a play around and see what kind of combinations you can create! Revel in the joy of having fun with fabric, texture, colour, pattern, and creativity.