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Question: What are some easy ways to wear polka dots?

Answer: Don’t be alarmed if you’re suddenly seeing spots everywhere. It’s a good thing, especially when it comes to fashion. From big and bold to small and dainty, there’s never been a better time to join the polka dot craze, because the playful print is back and chicer than ever. Often thought of as too retro or girly, this cheerful pattern gets a bad rap despite its timeless appeal. But polka dots can be surprisingly sophisticated when worn the right way. And that’s where we come in. Avoid going in circles with a few of these basic speckled staples, and it won’t be long before you find yourself going absolutely dotty over this trend.

Dresses and Skirts

Dresses and skirts in monochromatic colors or nautical navy are an effortless way of wearing polka dots. Versatile, retro-inspired dresses like this halter slip dress from Express is an adorable  frock when paired with sleek neutral or bright heels. You can play it safe with dark colored dots on a simple, neutral background, or be a bit more flashy with a colored polka dot dress. When it comes to skirts, the possibilities are endless. At any length–from minis, middies, and maxis–polka dotted skirts add a bit of sass to any outfit.

Blouses and Button-Ups

One of the easiest ways to wear polka dots is on the upper half of the body with feminine and flirty blouses or structured button-up shirts. Dotted shirts add a lot of detail and balance out your figure. A free-flowing blouse like this sleeveless Tahari polka dot tie-front is perfect for all shapes and sizes, as well as for work or a night out. It can easily be matched with solid colored bottoms to complete a mature yet stylish ensemble. A spotted button-up will look great with distressed jeans for a charming daytime look.

Trousers

Polka dots don’t have to be boring or the same old black and white pattern. For something a bit more fun, try understated polka dot trousers in different colors or bigger dots. From flared and skinny to wide leg and baggy, polka dot trousers like these Madewell Skinny Skinny pants in Stitchdot are totally unexpected. You can even wear dots on top for a bolder statement. Another alternative to trousers are dark and light polka dot denim jeans like these dot print skinny ankle jeans from Banana Republic. Wear them with solid shirts or crop tops for added edge and coolness.

Accessories

Go as wild and crazy as you want with polka dot accessories to accent your overall look. Dotted accessories such as jewelry and scarves update pieces without compromising your style, and a polka dot scarf is versatile. You can tie it onto your handbag, wear it as a belt or headscarf or around the neckline of a plain t-shirt. Polka dot heels freshen up monotone separates.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are some things to remember when it comes to polka dots:

Mix and Match

For daring fashionistas who want to exhibit some dotted flair, it’s all about mixing polka dots with other prints. Rules are meant to be broken, so go ahead and mix unlikely pairs such as florals with polka dots or stripes with dots. You can even play around with textures such as lace or snake skin. Just choose similar colors or colors that blend seamlessly when combining prints.

Keep it Simple

Not a risk-taker when it comes to mixing and matching prints? It’s okay to just keep things simple by pairing your polka dotted piece with classic and neutral staples such as a handbag or bottoms. For a toned-down look, add a black boyfriend blazer or dark wash skinny jeans with monochromatic polka dots.

Whether you embrace a head-to-toe combination or just a few dots here and there, polka dots provide an instant jolt of happiness and a bit of elegance with a wink. Bold, cheeky and retro-chic, dots have gotten a major style upgrade, disproving that you can’t wear the style staple unless you’re seven-years-old or a 1960s pin-up girl. Trust me, it’s a statement you’ll be glad to be spotted (no pun intended) wearing.

How do you plan to add polka dots to your wardrobe this season?