Kate Middleton made stylish spots a staple of her Irish tourdrobe, and the classic print is set to enjoy another fashion moment this spring
During the royal visit to Ireland this month, the big story around Kate Middleton's fashion was the 40 shades of green. Granted, you may not be keen to replicate such a festive look so soon after St Patrick's Day, but there was one other notable element of her wardrobe: the scattering of polka dots.
She wore three spotted outfits in a row, starting with a black-and-white Equipment shirt with skinny jeans and boots in Kildare, and closing in Galway with a green dress by Suzannah, accessorised with a wide black belt.
The middle look, however, was the most striking: a vintage Oscar de la Renta ruffle-neck dress in vivid magenta and black, worn to an evening reception hosted by Simon Coveney at the Museum of Literature in Dublin.
Kate earned plaudits for her circular choice of a second-hand piece, and for going with such a bold 80s-style look. It was the biggest swing of this tourdrobe and it had its critics, but the dress also illustrated the staying power of this particular print, which is once again enjoying a fashion moment in 2020.
On the catwalks, Richard Quinn gave his dots a retro feel, splashed over a sequinned, bow-embellished prom dress and a giant puff-sleeved satin mini, while Balenciaga's top-to-toe polka dots were a standout in a bright blue, sharp-shouldered blouse, asymmetric skirt, belt and tights.
Carolina Herrera's dots were blown up over black and white dresses, styled with hot pink and yellow pumps, and Dries Van Noten collaborated with master of maximalism Christian Lacroix on a collection that blended polka dots, florals and animal print with aplomb, adding the occasional pair of white jeans or white tank top for surprising wearability.
This artful clashing of prints managed to bring Lacroix's 80s and 90s-era abundance - memorialised by Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous - right up to date, and offered a fresh, modern styling trick for those weary of the viral Zara midi dress from last summer.
For a slightly more low-key example, check out Olivia Wilde (right) at an awards season brunch earlier this year, teaming a graphic polka-dot blouse with a pinstripe suit. It's an unexpected pairing, instantly livening up a staid suit and simultaneously refreshing the now-familiar dotted blouse, all the while coming across low-key thanks to the monochrome palette.
Take it to the next level by introducing colour: try a pink polka dot like Essentiel Antwerp's skirt with a checked blazer in a contrasting colour, such as a subdued grey or a light blue (the Belgian brand also has an oversized style with pink running through the check that makes a stylish partner), wear a leopard-print bag or shoe with a polka dot dress, or add a geometric print knit.
If you favour a cleaner, more simple look, take inspiration from Helen Mirren (far right) in an Alessandra Rich dress this month in Paris. The shape and print reflect a vintage influence, yet the body-skimming fit with fluid skirt gives it a modern appeal.
Polka dots are a great option for any occasion where you want to look smart, as the uniform nature of the print lends polish, whether in a basic blouse or shirt dress, or in a more glamorous dress.
You can play off the prim print by giving your styling a harder edge: a ruffled polka dot blouse with a leather skirt, a crisp dotted dress with a clunky (or 'ugly') sandal, or a pie-crust midi dress with lug-sole lace-up boots. Whether you wear your spots with jeans or stiletto courts, you'll be running circles around everyone else.