Some patterns cycle in and out over decades, and some never quite leave us. It’s not hard to guess where polka dots fall.
The classic print has featured in wardrobes since the mid-1800s, when the polka dance first came into vogue. At the time, it was popular to affix the word “polka” to products, to capitalise on the polka-mania. And so, polka dots danced into public affection.
The print is still a fashion mainstay, thanks to its ability to merge retro classicism with new-season styles. Here are 13 of the spottiest pieces for the new season.
Romance Was Born: Bad Girls Bow Blouse
Designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales are best known for their bold and colourful prints, but it hasn’t stopped them working with spots. Their Bad Girls Bow Blouse is a rebellious take on the demure pussy-bow style. With the typical Romance Was Born largesse, the playful design is crafted from sheer-mesh fabric and finished with an oversized satin bow.
Jacquemus La Robe Gitan: Strapless Dress
Simon Porte Jacquemus has caused a stir in recent years. The emerging talent caught the attention of all the right people (Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, for one), with his exaggerated proportions and ability to add contemporary elements to otherwise classic styles. For his spring-summer 2018 collection La Bomba, the 27-year-old worked with an oversized polka dot print. It combines folding, draping and ruching with his signature tailoring. Australians can find Jacquemus and La Robe Gitan at My Chameleon
Balenciaga: Knife Mules
Creative director Demna Gvasalia recently looked back through Balenciaga’s archives for design inspiration and came back with these. The label’s Knife Point Mules are reminiscent of the footwear that accompanied the house’s work in the sixties, but with a little more oomph. The kitten heel-style mule gets its name from its extreme pointed toe, used to modernise the classic style and, in this case, the classic print. There are still limited sizes available at Matches Fashion. Alternatively, chase down the taller Knife Pumps here.
Norma Kamali Marissa: Polka Dot Swimsuit
Polka dots bring a retro vibe to swimwear and Norma Kamali has capitalised on this. The American designer has used an enlarged polka dot print on a very skimpy one-piece, with an ultra-high leg cut and low-scoop back. It’s bold and very eighties. Find it online at Net-A-Porter.
Sir Valentina: Ruffle Top and Short
Price: $250 and $220
The Sydney-based favourite has also worked with polka dots for spring-summer 2018, with a number of spots in this season’s lineup, from the Valentine Ruffle Top to the matching Short. Sold separately, the set is made from 100 per cent soft-beige silk, taking on the classic print in a more understated way. A raw neckline and tie-back detail work to ground the otherwise flouncy design.
Sir Edie Wrap Dress
This sleeveless style combines a classic polka dot with an asymmetric hemline, clean neckline and tie detail, creating a balanced, flirty aesthetic.
Paper London: Capri Flare Spot
Paper London’s Capri flares are form-fitting, high-waisted and constructed in crochet, with black-and-white cotton used to resemble polka dots. Go all out with the matching asymmetric Winona top, or shop the pants online here. For those on a budget, you can also find a similar Paper London style made with guipure lace on sale via The Outnet.
Alice McCall: Just My Type Playsuit
True to form, Alice McCall has created a polka dot playsuit for spring-summer 2018 in her signature floaty aesthetic. Made from 100 per cent silk organza with ruffle details, it’s designed to catch the wind as the wearer moves. McCall subdues the frilly design, with a scooped neckline and near-backless cut to balance the flounce. Find it online here.
Ganni Marceau Georgette Pants
Cult Danish label Ganni has earned a reputation for “in between” pieces – those that pull the rest of your wardrobe together into cohesive outfits. But this doesn’t mean the designs are boring. For the new season, Ganni has played with polka dots across a sheer trouser with an elastic waist, making it easier to wear than your trackies. Find it at Mode Sportif.
Réalisation Par Cher Blouse
Réalisation Par is certainly no stranger to a polka dot. Since launching in August 2015, the label has worked consistently with the print across its core styles in a range of colourways. It’s no surprise really; these Australian ladies’ flirty but enduring designs are a prime candidate for polka dots. The Cher is Réalisation’s take on the wrap top. It’s designed to be worn open as a jacket or closed as a shirt, and features ruffles on the chest, waist and cuffs. Find it online here.
Johanna Ortiz Pozole Top
Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz is famed for bringing her unique Latin stamp to the world’s runways. Her designs often play heavily with volume, ruffles and tropical prints, but she seems to have shown restraint with her Pozole top. The stretch-cotton crop features a sweetheart neckline and oversized bow, and looks great paired with a full, voluminous skirt. You could also pair it over a shirt, à la Matches Fashion.
Saloni Lodha draws on her Indian heritage when designing womenswear. "I think the way we as a brand celebrate bold colours and patterns is our way of bringing the spirit of India into the collections,” she says. The result is vibrant and feminine. In contrast, her recent works are more understated. The Ruth dress features a sweetheart neckline and clean details, in Saloni’s choice of timeless red. Find it online here.
Anna October: Polka Dot Crepe Dress
Price: $851 (save 30 per cent)
Another label playing with traditionally feminine styles is Anna October. The designer’s Polka Dot Crepe Dress features ruffle details and button cuffs for an overall romantic look. But it’s not too ‘pretty’. A conservative high neckline is met with exposed shoulders and a relaxed silhouette, ensuring the design is as contemporary as it is classic. Find it on sale here.
Mara Hoffman: Polka Dot High-Rise Wide-Leg Cotton Trousers
It’s hard to go wrong with a wide-leg pant, especially when it’s built for summer. Mara Hoffman’s high-rise trouser is made with a lightweight organic cotton and features a white-and-navy polka dot print, perfect for those impending beach days. An elasticised waist adds to its ease of wear. Get a closer look here.