How to wear... polka dots
No longer exclusively the domain of little girls' tea parties, the dotty print has finally grown up
Polka dots take their name from the polka, the dance that took Vienna and a host of European cities by storm back in the mid-1800s. Since then, polka dots have popped up on everything from tablecloths to little girls' dresses. And still, for many women, the dotty pattern is sweet and nostalgic - perfect for kids, but a little mawkish once you've grown out of tea parties and teddy bears' picnics.
Good news: the polka dot has grown up and this season's offerings embrace the print as a simple way to give sophisticated pieces a playful edge.
At Paris Fashion Week, Balenciaga, Jacquemus and Loewe presented an array of polka dots with a decidedly grown-up sensibility for autumn-winter, while last month, all eyes were on Kate Middleton (left) in a bold printed Dolce & Gabbana dress at Wimbledon. The look was both punchy and timeless, and showed that a graphic, monochromatic polka print is ideal for making a statement.
If you prefer a more understated style, a micro dot has a subtle impact, especially in muted shades of forest green, navy or burgundy. Mango's jumpsuit is a great example - it's an all-over print, but rendered in a softer way, making it highly wearable for everyday.
If you do opt for an all-over print, it helps to take into consideration your size: taller women tend to get away with bold, large dots, while a more discreet print suits smaller frames.
Polka dots are hugely versatile - the print lends itself easily to flirty feminine dresses (see Finery's gorgeous shirt dress), but it can also be used to inject some personality into workwear. This season, the high street has turned to polka dots to revive wardrobe staples, like the silk shirt. Uterque's bright blue dotted version will instantly bring new life to a tired suit or a simple pencil skirt, and worn with sparkling earrings and sky-high heels, it transitions easily to cocktails too.
If spots still strike you as too girlish, go for a tomboy knit, like Whistles' crew neck. Throw it on with jeans for a laid-back take on the trend, or half-tuck into a midi skirt for a look that's both elegant and modern. You could even glam it up with leather trousers and courts.
Dotted accessories are a great way to try out a pattern you're not used to wearing. A polka dot scarf tied at the neck or on the strap of a handbag looks retro without being twee, while Zara's kitten heels will liven up any office wardrobe.
So you have no excuse: swap out your classic stripes for a timeless polka dot.