Fashion's Polka Dot Parade

by - Monday, January 28, 2013





Frankly, the new fashion trends of late 2012 -- neon, color blocking, mixing odd colors and mixing patterns -- might leave some to believe that adults are reverting to their days as preschoolers when parents would foolishly allow them to wear whatever they wanted. Don't get me wrong: I love pushing the envelope with new styles and figuring out how to work a new fashion fad into my closet without emptying my bank account, but some celebrity outfits recently have taxed my eyesight and my aforementioned acceptance. This is why I'm pleased as punch that polka dots have reappeared.

Polka Dots: A Long & Noble Pedigree

Polka dots are a pattern capable of transforming an outfit from the mundane to the magical. Oddly, for a pattern that would be considered "playful" if described to a Martian, the classic standard polka dot pattern somehow "formalizes" an outfit if designed and worn correctly. Unfortunately, that's a big "if." Just because an outfit has a polka dot pattern does not make it a classic piece. For instance, the number of polka dots can be printed too often or printed the wrong size for a piece, lending one fashion blogger to describe the effect as "too many dots on a shirt or skirt make you look like a page out of a color by number book....Or Minnie Mouse." Finally, the pattern is amazingly versatile, used for dresses, blouses, skirts, pants and all types of accessories and even bathing suits.

Wearing Polka Dots Politely

In order to assist you in proper polka dot style, let's begin with the basics. The classic pattern is that of black dots on a white background. This can be reversed, of course, with white dots on a black background. The dots themselves are usually circles, but they can be ovals, too. The spacing and pattern of the polka dots is traditionally the same, uniform in pattern as opposed to varied. The number and size of the dots is usually determined by the size and style of the piece of clothing. Find a polka-dotted piece with tiny dots too-crowded onto the fabric and see if it doesn't make you want to cross your eyes like some optical illusion.

Polka Dot Points

  • Traditional polka dot colors are black, brown or navy blue.
  • Traditional polka dots are uniformly spaced on the fabric.
  • Traditional polka dots are circular or oval, not teardrop or splash-shaped.
  • The more you rely on a traditional, classic polka dot style, the less chance you have of committing a fashion faux pas and winding up in the back of a magazine photographed from the neck down.
  • Polka dot pants add at least one pound per dot.
  • Fashion mavens should dive into dots cautiously, choosing to use the pattern on something basic. A bathing suit forms a perfect canvas to experiment with a polka dot palette. Scarves, belts, headbands or other accessories also work well to get the style points without going overboard.
  • Avoid brightly colored polka dots or other wild polka dot ideas to stay away from "the clown factor."

One Final Polka Dot Proposition

No, you cannot wear two types of polka dot patterns -- such as a blouse and a skirt -- without being cited by the fashion police -- unless you are in New York, Paris or Milan.

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