While polka dots may seem like a juvenile trend -- Minnie Mouse, anyone? -- the truth is that they can be done in a playful, yet grown-up way that's perfect for work or the weekend.
Some people might be too timid to try this look, but fashion stylist Amy Lu (www.amylu.ca) maintains that anyone can channel this trend. Her best tips? Keep things simple, learn to accessorize and know what suits your body type.
1. How to wear polka-dot accessories
It's important to make trends your own, so when it comes to wearing polka dots this fall, Lu suggests starting with items like knickers or a polka-dot silk "boyfriend" blouse to keep the print wearable. "Polka-dot knickers are a great way to feel flirty and get in on the trend without wearing them as part of your outfit," says Lu. "Only you know that you're wearing them."
"In the same way that animal prints are best kept in small doses, polka dots are a fashion treat that work best as an accessory to your look," Lu says. "Pick one signature piece and work your look around that." For instance, polka-dot tights can easily be worn with a neutral dress, and a polka-dot handbag can dress up a blazer. Additionally, Lu suggests polka-dot bows or scarves as great accent pieces that prevent trend overkill.
2. How to wear polka-dot dresses
Lu advocates that "women should wear what empowers them, what feels good and makes their day better". So while a cinched-waist polka dot dress will accentuate an hourglass figure, a slim-fitting tube dress worn with opaque tights is ideal for a night out.
While polka dots are a traditional print, it's possible to break out of the retro route by embracing metallic or silver mini polka dots on a bright colour base. That way, you can still wear a classic style like an A-line dress or pencil skirt, but maintain playfulness through the use of commanding shades and unconventional fabrics.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find expert tips on how to wear polka dots for your body shape, plus find polka dot accessories to keep on page 2
3. How to wear polka-dot tops and blouses
To do justice to your own shape, Lu suggests keeping prints proportional. "Something to keep in mind with any pattern is that the larger and more bold it is, the less forgiving it is," Lu says. "When you are long and lean, there is more of you to accommodate the pattern (and) the opposite is true for shorter people."
The polka dots should be proportional to your shape, so if you are have a bigger bust, the print should be slightly larger to balance a bigger chest. Conversely, if you're petite on top, the polka dots should be smaller to keep things proportional.
That said, to channel 1950s glam with a hint of bombshell, look to stars like Beyonce, who applied the print to her hourglass figure via a fitted blouse and pencil skirt. Just remember that you can also mix and match clothes: By pairing a polka-dot blouse with a solid-tone cardigan or pullover vest, you can ease your way into the polka-dot print and ensure that, regardless of print size, your ensemble is flattering.
4. How to wear polka-dot hair accessories
If you're not comfortable donning head-to-toe polka dots, Lu encourages accessorizing. "Try an accessory such as a polka-dot scarf or headband," she says. They'll add a new dimension to your everyday look. "A touch of both polka dots and a bow could be cute," Lu elaborates. Though while an oversize bow straddles both the polka dot and retro trends, a printed bow that's too big can come across as costumey.
Polka dots are a cheery print that can bring an element of fun to your wardrobe. Just remember to keep things proportional and simple, and to pair polka dots alongside solid, neutral pieces. And don't forget to shop your closet (or your mother or grandmother's closet, or even host a clothing swap!) for this retro trend -- chances are you'll find a vintage polka-dot piece that would fit perfectly in your wardrobe this season.
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