Mad About Polka Dots

What stripes were to spring and summer, polka dots are to fall this year, popping up everywhere in the fashion press. Designers as varied as Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, and Diane von Furstenburg have all tapped into a love of dots, but it is Stella McCartney whose omnipresent designs placing polka dots on panels of sheer fabric have been a driving force in the resurgence of this fun retro pattern.

Polka dots are demanding on the eye, and unlike striped fashions that can be mixed with striped jewelry to pleasing effect, adding too many more round motifs to a background of polka dots can be too much of a good thing. Or can it? Here is how the fashion press is styling the popular print:

The September 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar features “73 and a half” year old actress Jane Fonda, looking spectacular in a polka dots-on-sheer-panels dress by Stella McCartney. Fonda wears long diamond drop earrings from Chopard and a chunky black and crystal Kenneth Jay Lane ring, both choices playful and of sufficient size and presence to balance the large black dots.

Actress Emma Stone is profiled in an extended fashion spread for the July 2011 issue of Elle, wearing polka dots in every shot. Most of the photos include no jewelry, as seen in the above photo in which Stone wears a polka dotted dress and shoes from Stella McCartney along with polka dot tights from Emilio Cavallini and polka dot gloves from Gaspar Gloves.

In the above photo from Elle, Stone wears layered dresses – a dotted jacquard dress from Lanvin under a dotted tulle dress from Stella McCartney – along with dotted tights from Emilio Cavallini and Burberry boots. To balance all those dots, Stone wears a huge pair of star-shaped earrings from Dolce & Gabbana, tapping into the current trend favoring celestial designs.

The September 2011 issue of Marie Claire accessorizes a polka dotted jumpsuit from Stella McCartney with a short necklace of huge black beads from Marc Jacobs.

Allure magazine has a two-page spread on polka dots in its September 2011 issue. “Go big,” urges Allure: “The new approach to graphic dots is to think big, as in bigger than a quarter but smaller than a golf ball.” “Get crazy,” the magazine continues:  “Paillettes, sequins or discs are even better than polka dots, because they have a textural element.” The jewelry pictured consists of a brass-gold-and-enamel necklace of varying size discs with satin ribbon from Herve van der Straeten, and a glass-bead chunky chain-style necklace from Tanzania Maasai Women’s Art by Francesca Torri Soldini.

The September 2011 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal styles a polka dotted dress from Yoana Baraschi with button earrings from Carolee Lux and a pair of bracelets – a bangle from Pono and a stingray bracelet from Leighelena. The model also wears a chunky ring from Kara Ackerman Designs. Notice that all the jewelry has plenty of presence.

One style strategy is to skip the polka dotted clothing entirely and introduce polka dots into your wardrobe with jewelry. The September issue of Marie Claire includes in a collage of polka dot designs a diamond dotted ring from Verdura. Also pictured are a Lanvin dress, David Koma top, Mango pants, March Jacobs sweater and sunglasses, Stella McCartney shoes, and a pair of spotted wallets from Comme des Garcons.  

On a patent leather and Lucite piano keyboard design clutch from Kate Spade shown in the September 2011 issue of More are more polka dot jewelry choices. Featured are a carved onyx and diamond ring from Fred Leighton; an 18k gold and diamond pave necklace from Stephen Webster; a pair of diamond-studded black and white earrings, one of cocholong and one of black jade, from Verdura; and a 19k gold, diamond, and black sapphire ring from Roberto Coin. Any of these designs are worth going dotty about.