Polka Dots

It's official, dear readers, polka dots (both big and small) are a fall fashion must-have. And my, how far they have come since their youthful Minnie Mouse days! Yes, girly polka dots are all grown up, and, thanks to a number of high-profile designers, are appearing on everything from fabulous cocktail dresses--more on that later--to ladylike accessories. Plus, they have already made a huge impression on a handful of stylish femmes, including Olivia Palermo and Natalia Vodianova! As today's Trend Report can attest, this of-the-moment print is both playful and incredibly chic, making it a spot-on choice for a wide range of occasions this season!Though there were plenty of runways that had us, err, seeing spots, we found inspiration for today's report in Marc Jacobs' latest collection. For his F/W 11 show, Jacobs experimented with a variety of polka dots--some large, some small, and others with a three dimensional twist--and offered plenty of intriguing ways to mix and match the quirky prints. We were particularly pleased with the look above, which is comprised of the Large Dot Jacquard Top ($995, 212.343.1490) and Pencil Skirt ($995, 212.343.1490) with Large Dot Jacquard Gloves ($400, 212.343.1490) and Nylon Polka Dot Tights ($82, 212.343.1490). The mashup of polka dot prints is certainly visually intriguing, plus, we're drawn to the ensemble's wonderful ladylike look. If you're in want of another excellent runway reference, we'd like to also direct you to the Diane von Furstenberg F/W 11 collection, specifically the Clean Weston Jacket ($595) in Spotted Twill and Kameron Skirt ($275) in Spotted Twill, which were worn with a sheer polka dot top and the fringed Penn Boots ($650). While the layering of polka-dot prints on both runways are definitely eye-catching, the use of fitted and strict silhouettes keep the overall looks feeling chic and sophisticated.

Off the runways, we noted lots of fashionable ladies wearing polka dots and their resulting outfits were quite impressive--so be sure to take notes! Olivia Palermo and Jameela Jamil both opted for enviable party dresses featuring the spotted print, and their clever styling choices were as equally interesting. Palermo caught our eye at an amfAR Inspiration Gala dinner in New York back in May when she wore a white and navy polka dot dress from Bensoni's S/S 11 collection with Charlotte Olympia heels and vintage art deco jewellery. We love the way she pinned up the dress in the front to create a pseudo asymmetrical silhouette that transformed the precious frock into a flirtatious evening dress. Jamil, on the other hand, opted for a more spirited look at the British Comedy Awards in London earlier this year. The television presenter/model punched up her strapless black and white polka dot Dolce & Gabbana dress from the Resort 10 collection with a pair of highlighter green Nicholas Kirkwood heels, offering the outfit a flashbulb-worthy, high-impact finish.

While sprightly party dresses are definitely a fitting canvas for polka dots, we've also found these prints work with more refined cocktail attire too, as demonstrated by Natalia Vodianova. The stunning model stepped out for a British Fashion Council celebration in London two months ago wearing a body-skimming one-shoulder dress with grey pumps. Doesn't the graphic polka-dot print give the leather frock a cool updated look? Indeed! Of course, if you prefer an edgier after-hours ensemble, we suggest taking a tip from Harley Viera Newton and wear your polka dot dress with a pair of ankle booties. The DJ/model did just that for a Chanel boutique opening in New York back in May when she showed up in a Topshop Unique polka-dot minidress, which is sadly no longer available, with a pair of black peep-toe Gucci booties. The chunky footwear tempers the dress' girly spirit, resulting in a perfectly balanced look.

If you're not a fancy dress gal, no need to worry, because there are plenty of lovely separates emblazoned with polka dots for you to try. But before we get into those terrific items, we'd like to offer you a top-notch outfit idea from Pixie Geldof. The British model was snapped outside the Unique Topshop fashion show in London earlier this year sporting a delightful combination of matching polka-dot prints. No only are we smitten with the double dose of cute polka dots, but we're also fans of the way she tied up her top and incorporated a luxurious coat to give the outfit a slightly '90s-grunge vibe.

Now that we're finished with our brief lesson on this season's polka-dot prints, it's time for the fun part: shopping! We've scoured the market for the best-of-the-best in polka dots and have come up with a pretty awesome selection, so get those wallets ready. If you're seeking a cocktail dress option, you definitely don't want to miss Jessica Simpson's One Shoulder Polk Dot Printed Cocktail Dress ($90), GB Gianni Bini's Strapless Polka-Dot Dress ($24), and Forever 21's Polka Dot Bowline Dress ($18). In addition to the fact that all three options are pretty affordable, they are also perfect for a girls' night out! Want something that can work for a daytime luncheon or the office? You're in luck, because we have a few of those too! We're huge fans of Tahari by Arther S. Levine's Polka Dot Woven Dress ($118), which has a lovely '50s-inspired prim look to it, as well as the sheath-like silhouette of Zara's Zara's Polka-Dot Dress ($90). If you'd rather try this look with separates, we recommend picking up Splendid's Zara's Polka-Dot Voile Blouse ($74) or Free People's Polka Dot Blouse ($128); either top would look smart worn with a pair of chic shorts now and slim pants and heels come fall. Finally, those hoping to ease in on this trend, can incorporate polka dots into their look subtly with a pair of spotted tights, like Woldford's Bonny Polka-Dot Tights ($62), or a wallet, like Comme des Carcones' Polka Dot Leather Wallet ($235). However you choose to wear polka dots this season, the key is to have fun and be a little daring, as the result will always be memorable.

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