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Polka Dots: the Classic but Fun Look

| May 28, 2018
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latest polka dot fashion trends

I love polka dots and since I do, I’m sharing some of my favorite street looks, some outfit ideas, tips on wearing polka dots and some ideas on keeping them modern and sophisticated. They are most definitely a classic look, even with its own national holiday (January 23).

The term polka dots reportedly came about in the 1800s, when an American women’s magazine described the circular repeating pattern on a scarf. It seems that ever since then, we’ve been enamored with them, as celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, designers such as Christian Dior, and even such beloved characters as Minnie Mouse adopted them as their signature pattern.

Marilyn Momroe and Minnie Mouse in polka dots and the Dior look in polka dots

Good news for polka dot fans because this trend isn’t slowing down any time soon and while polka dots aren’t new or groundbreaking, the way designers are using them is according to Who What Wear . From romantic blouses to statement accessories and retro swimwear, the print is taking over in every form this season. As you transition your wardrobe to rising temperatures, get in on the polka dot craze with pieces you’ll want to wear all season long.

Helpful  Trend Pointers

If you are wondering how to wear polka dots, here are some things to consider.

  1.  Choose Dotted Clothing with a Streamlined Silhouette

Wear Dots on streamlined pieces like sheath dresses, rather than on layered frilly, feminine items. This makes for a more mature, sophisticated look. Nah! I like frilly and feminine too.


sophisticated ve feminine polka dot look

  1.  Don’t wear Polka Dots all over unless You know what you are doing 

Too many dots can get crazy/busy, and make you look a confused mess, so best to keep it simple. If you want to combine dots head to toe, then choose two different size dots in drastically different sizes.

large and small polka dots and red polka dot pants

This woman above has the right idea. White and red polka dots pants look clean and fresh when worn with a neutral top. The plain colored top balances out the pants and makes her look playful but not kiddish.  See how the pants take center stage? Dots with stripes is more for the major fashionistas too.

  1.  Pay attention to what size of dots you wear

Some say bigger dots belong on bigger frames and smaller dots belong on smaller frames. This is true to a point, but personality also comes into play.

  1.  Try Dotted Accessories

Dots are elegant and less loud when worn as accessories. A black dress with a black and white polka dot bag is easy for anyone to wear.

polka dot accessories

  1.  Think about the Color of Your Dots

High contrast black and white dots are bolder and more dramatic than low contrast taupe and white polka dots. If your coloring is fair, it is easier to wear low contrast dots that don’t overpower.

high vs low contrast polka dots

Also, many dot prints are oversized creating a dramatic, rather than a sweet look. Be sure not to overdo your dots. If you are wearing oversize dots pants for example, wear a plain colored top to balance things out. Sleek accessories like a clutch bag also make dots more elegant.

The latest round of polka dots include:

Dressy Dots: Polka dots look modern on this asymmetrical wrap dress. A gorgeous red leather bag punches up the look

dressy and casual polka dot looks

Casual Dots: Here’s another more casual look. Navy and white polka dots look clean and fresh on a simple, silky blouse worn with crisp white shorts.

Oversized Dots: Large, exaggerated dots create a dramatic, rather than a sweet look.

Irregular Shaped Dots: Some dots have a less than round shape. They’re softer and slightly jagged, giving the print a modern feel.

Unusual Dot Patterns: Dots arranged in unusual patterns are popular, or dots combined with other print like florals or stripes.

Other New Trends in Polka Dots Fashion:

  • Textured, raised dots
  • Metallic dots in gold or silver
  • Colorful Dots like the rainbow
  • Colorblocked Dots: A concentration of dots in one place for figure emphasis.

New Looks

Here are a couple of polka dot looks to get you thinking about how you might wear this trend. Some are kind of funky.

funky polka dot looks

more polka dot looks 2

more polka dot looks 3

Would You Wear It

B&W polka dot skirt and white blouse

Deborah Boland of Fabulous After Forty shares this outfit that she found on a mannequin and asks if you would wear it and why. Here are the comments of her viewers (real women) which I find both interesting and amusing. You may also wish to check out my articles, Mannequin Madness, Part 1 and Part 2 for tricks of the trade on mannequin styling, but I will tell you that more than once, I have bought the outfit on display as is.


  • I would wear this outfit if I was tall and thin, like the mannequin.
  • Love the blouse! Don’t love the skirt! I am too short to handle those large dots.
  • If there was a petite version of this, I would wear this! It’s cute, stylish and adorable!
  • Oh most definitely, Jennifer! I have one very similar though the white dots are slightly smaller on a black background. I’ve had mine for 30 years and it’s one of the most versatile pieces in my wardrobe. I wouldn’t pair it with the display top now that I’m 60, just too young looking for me now.
    I’ve worn mine casually in the warmer months with a simple black or with tee grounding it with espadrilles or white sneakers. In the winter I’ve paired it with a chunky sweater and boots.
    I’ve dressed it up in the summer with a chiffon top and black sandals and in the winter with a black cashmere turtle neck and accessories. It also looks great with a white blouse and black blazer.
    I’m petite with a pear shaped body so I’ve had mine hemmed so it hits at the ankle.
    I just love it, maybe that’s why I’ve kept it so long!
  • When I see large polka dot fashion I think of actress Diane Keaton. I have seen her wear polka dots in movies, photos, and on TV talk shows. The look is memorable. I like this skirt and blouse combo but probably would not try it on.
  • Ok, I would so wear this skirt but not with the too precious little blouse…I would rather pair this with a white shirt, cuffs below the elbow, unbuttoned about three down…I am 5’9? and would enjoy the this is different style…Fun to play!
  • YES! No hesitation at all. I love the entire look. Wouldn’t it be perfect for summer gatherings? Graduation or the party, showers, rehearsal dinner. The large polka dots are so fresh and updated, while still classic. If I knew where that skirt came from I’d buy it now, it’s like a grown up woman’s maxi skirt/dress with enough tailoring to be flattering. The shirt is sweet and classic, and takes the outfit up a notch. I’d also try a fitted t to make it casual.
  • I would definitely wear this outfit. I love the look and at 5’7? think I could carry it. I can see wearing it to summer events and depending on the fabric of the skirt might wear it with espadrilles and a white tee.
  • I love a polka dot and would wear this in a heartbeat. Looks comfortable but fun and stylish.

Finally, see how our trans community wears polka dots. All the ladies in the top row are Stylish Crossdresers on Sister House

crossdressers Rita, Vikki, and Stana in polka dot

Stylish Crossdressers in Polka Dots
L – R Rita Doyle, Vikki Lafontaine (Baroness, Imperial Court of New York), and Stana from Femulate

More CDs in polka dots

L – Unknown
R – 1-David Lander and Michael McKean femulating on television’s Laverne and Shirley (circa 1980)

crossdressers in polka dot outfits 3


Resources:  Stylecaster,   A Well Styled Life     Fabulous After 40

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About the Author ()

Tasi was a transgender, married, lifelong crossdresser. She passed away in late 2018. She’s the founder of the Ladies of the Blue Ridge transgender group in Roanoke VA, a prolific writer, commentator and blogger including fashion articles for Tri-Ess, TG Reporter, Repartee, and Pretty T-Girls magazine. Tasi currently resides in Merida, (Yucatan) Mexico. Her new website, Sister House and her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman are dedicated to fashion and style for the transgendered woman. Tasi’s book, "Top Ten Fashion Mistakes By Crossdressers and How To Fix Them" is available on Amazon or on her site free to subscribers.

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