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How to Wear Polka Dots Without Looking Too Cute

Photo: YOUNGJUN KOO

Once in a while, a trend appears on the runway, trickles down to your local mall, and then lodges itself firmly inside your brain. Now Trending is our weekly roundup of where to buy that look that’s been haunting you.

You might not be familiar with the names Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia but the duo behind Oscar de la Renta and Monse has created designs you’ve definitely seen before. With celebrity fans like Kerry Washington, Selena Gomez, and Jessica Chastain to name a few, they’re two of the new young designers creating interesting pieces that translate to more than something you’d see on a red carpet. Kim and Garcia are smart — they take familiar ideas like a white blouse, sequins, or an off-the-shoulder shirt and make them feel fresh with cool tweaks. For pre-fall 2017, the duo turned their eye to polka dots, playing with color and scale, and now we can’t get them out of our heads.

While the pattern is normally associated with vintage-inspired clothes that can skew cheesy or twee, it doesn’t have to look that way if you choose wisely. Keep it current: a fun wrap dress or trendy off-the-shoulder top does the trick. Or look for simple shapes like an A-line skirt or well-cut pants to make a basic feel fresh again. And you don’t have to stick to the classic black-and-white combination either — there are plenty of of fun color options out there. Scroll ahead for ideas on how to get in on the trend at every price point.

The Cheap (But Still Chic!) Way to Wear It

H&M Top
$40 at H&M

Combining a few trends like a wrap tie, polka dots, and shoulder cutouts sounds like it’d be overkill but it’s actually quite fun and fresh. Wear it with jeans and sandals for your next weekend brunch outing.

The Best Buy Under $100

& Other Stories Skirt
$85 at & Other Stories

We love this skirt so much we’ve already written about it once as a great printed work-skirt option, but it’s also just as cute in the red-dot print. Try it with a white T-shirt and sandals to downplay the print.

The One All the Bloggers Wear

Realisation Dress
$195 at Realisation

Take a quick look at Realisation’s Instagram, and you’ll spot pretty much every influencer you follow wearing their signature Alexandra dress. The sky-blue shade mixed with the ruffles is an especially festive twist on the classic wrap dress.

The Grown-Up Version

Ganni Dress
$205 at Net-a-Porter

If you like the look of the H&M top but you want something a little fancier, this dress is the next step up. It also has that trendy shoulder cutout but it’s more subdued with a longer length that skims the calves.

If You Want More Color Than Polka Dots

Diane von Furstenberg Sleeveless Draped Floor-Length Dress
Sale Price: $269 (40 percent off) at Diane von Furstenberg

What’s so nice about this dress is the mix of colors: the brown, green, and blue pieces shift the focus away from the pattern, so even those those who hate polka dots might reconsider them.
Original Price: $448

The One You Can Wear Year-Round

Anna October Dress
$565 at Moda Operandi

Technically this dress is on preorder so you won’t be able to get it until October but that’s a sign that the trend isn’t going away. Think of it as an investment toward all of those holiday parties you’ll be attending.

If You Want the Real Deal

Monse Pants
$1,390 at Orchard Mile

These Monse silk polka-dot pants are low in stock because customers are really into their design. When worn with the matching blazer, it’ll make you want to wear head-to-toe patterns.

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How to Wear Polka Dots Without Looking Too Cute