Antiquated in name and retro by association, the polka dot hasn't been fashion's premiere pattern in ages. While the simple spots are typically associated with wholesome fare such as itsy bitsy bikinis and Minnie Mouse skirts, thanks to directional designers like Henry Holland, the print is reenergized and feeling fresh again. As seen on fashion frontrunners like Jennifer Connelly and Pixie Geldof, this spring, monochrome dots result in spot-on style.
We'll discuss Mr. Holland and his proclivity for polka dots in one minute, but first we must point out a few other examples and give you the high-fashion context for this trend. At Michael Kors, everything got the Dalmatian treatment, as the print turned up on full Silk Skirts ($1495) and simple Cocktail Dresses ($1395), evoking a Pleasantville sweetness. Accessories were tattooed with these telltale dots too: Miu Miu is currently offering a spotted version of their East West Shoulder Bag ($1150), while 3.1 Phillip Lim's Phyll Attache Clutch ($395) made its debut on the runway. Of course, the polka de résistance came from House of Holland, where oversized dots were paired with pretty florals, sheer fabrics, and acid brights for a Beverly Hills 90210-inspired collection (we're referring to the original series, of course). The Polka Dot Blouse ($400), Stretch Polka Dot Skirt ($141), and Mini Dress with Spots and Flowers ($246) are all impeccable options!
Off the runways, polka dots are already receiving quite a bit of attention from an interesting range of women. One of our all-time style icons, Jennifer Connelly, showed a sophisticated way to wear the print when she tucked Miu Miu's Polka Dot Top ($685, 212.641.2980) into a slim Balenciaga skirt for a press event in Paris. By choosing a shirt with a simple cut and pairing it with basic black, Connelly created a super chic and elegant ensemble. Black-and-white spots are also perfect for a downtown look, as Erin Wasson illustrated at a party in New York last month. The model-turned-mogul mixed a Lanvin blouse with skinny jeans, a vintage jacket, and a vintage Norma Kamali hat, resulting in a luxuriously louche look.
Emma Roberts put her own spin on the polka dot when she selected a glamorous sequined tunic for the Topshop flagship launch party at The Box in New York. She layered her sparkly top over an American Apparel Interlock Mini Skirt ($25) and opaque tights, then finished the outfit with a contrasting pair of Sachi's 2 Platform Shoes ($135). All in all, her ensemble is youthful, festive, and much fun-perfect for an up-and-comer like Roberts. Our final spotted stylesetter is Pixie Geldof, who picked a sheer piece from House of Holland's Spring 09 collection (which was winningly named "Sex, Lies, and Volleyball") to wear to the label's Fall 09 show. The combination of her black beanie, studded leather jacket, and see-through top is sexy, sharp, and definitely memorable.
The real world version of this trend is easy enough to achieve: just limit yourself to one polka-dotted piece at a time and you'll be fine! If you're wild about the nineties-style looks from House of Holland, but would prefer a more affordable version, definitely check out Topshop. The Polka Dot Leggings ($40) or Spot Bodycon Jersey Dress ($55) will both give you that nineties look, especially when worn with your favorite pair of combat boots. If you're interested in a slightly roomier piece with just as much pizzazz, check out the Dot Spots Romper ($298) from Marc by Marc Jacobs. The short onesie is made from a silk/cotton blend and will make for easy dressing all summer long. Of course, we understand that these pieces might still feel a little strong and that some of our readers will want a subtler way to wear polka dots. Happily, even the demure can try this trend via accessories like Jennifer Ouellette's Feather Quill Headband ($125).
Photos of Pixie Geldof and Jennifer Connelly, from Getty Images.