There’s something delightfully childlike about a good polka-dot print—it reminds us of our more innocent, free-wheeling days, when the biggest decision we had to make every day was what juice box flavor should accompany our lunch. But there’s a very fine line between a trend that’s childlike and one that’s childish.
We’re here to help you decipher the difference—and there’s one big secret to pulling off polka dots without looking like an overgrown kid. Reach for the print in modern silhouettes, and avoid things like large poof skirts, sweetheart dresses, and the like. And remember, whether it’s on an oversized button-up, a lace dress, or even as a small design element on a clutch, polka dots can be an ultra-chic twist on a modern look.
Keep scrolling to see 10 celebrities who know how to pull off the look, then shop 20 polka-dot pieces we love!
We love the comically large polka-dot print on Knightley’s dress—it falls on the wearable side of the avant-garde line, and we want to steal the idea.
Keira Knightley in Dolce & Gabbana
Neil P. Mockford/GC Images
The reality star’s full skirt brings a fully on-trend and modern silhouette to the classic print. We love the crop top, too!
An oversized polka-dot pattern is barely visible through the feather embellishments of this skirt—but getting just a subtle peek of the print is almost more effective.
The oversized polka dots on this dress are set off by a more direct horizontal line near the hemline—the play on shape makes for a nice contrast.
The street style star’s polka-dot printed clutch adds just the right amount of flair to an otherwise sleek and chic outfit.
Carolina Issa carrying Clare V.
Tuck a polka-dot blouse into a high-waisted pencil skirt for an office-ready look.
Throw a belt around your waist to make an otherwise twee polka-dot dress instantly professional and modern.
Rose Byrne in Michael Kors
Polka dots and chessboard: an unexpected, yet delightful, combination.
A reverse polka dot is another creative way to wear the pattern—try a mini or a romper with white dots on a black or navy backdrop.
The ever-stylish star knows that a good flouncy button-down in a soft fabric makes for a great way to play with a fun print.
ASOS Skater Dress In Polka Dot with Cut Out Back ($35)
CC Cashmere by John Laing Polka Dot Sweater in Cashmere ($269)
Lanvin Ivory & Black Spotted Box Clutch ($1685)
3.1 Phillip Lim Polka Dot Mixed-Media Cosmetic Case ($425)
Hansel from Basel & Madewell Trouser Socks ($15)
PLAY by Comme des Garçons Polka Dot Long Sleeve T-Shirt ($158)
Manolo Blahnik Satin & Suede Polka Dot BB Pumps ($695)
Is the polka-dot trend one YOU would want to wear? Tell us in the comments below!