On The Runway

How To Wear It: Polka Dots

Spot on: Looks from the autumn/winter catwalks of (left to right): Stella McCartney, David Koma, Lanvin and Marc Jacobs.

Next autumn is all about graphic prints from digital styles to bold checks. One of my favourite prints is polka dots, which were first spotted on the runways of New York. Polka dots have always been a favourite with designers including Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garcons who had a silent monopoly on the style for years. Now everyone’s gone dotty with looks ranging from fun and quirky to elegant and sophisticated.

Try and experiment with:

Sheer: A long sheer dress is elegant yet breezy, while a sheer blouse worn with a pencil skirt will recreate this season’s ladylike 1940s looks. Stella McCartney’s dress with sheer sleeves is a great example.

Vintage: Remember I Love Lucy? Her full skirted polka dot dresses are retro and chic at the same time. Modernise the look with a pair with a pair of chunky brogues or loafers.

Embellishments: Both Marc Jacobs and McCartney featured cool polka dot appliqués on the runways. Polka dots made from sequins was another fun trick used by designers.

New silhouettes: Futuristic and/or structured shapes prevent the print from looking too conservative or boring.  Case in point, Lanvin’s one arm dress.

Size: From micro dots to oversized shapes, combine the two for a fun look. David Koma’s dresses also featured dots in different patterns for a cool look. Just practice with caution or you will look like a clown.

Separates: Unless you are wearing a dress, as a rule match one polka dot item with other plain items to balance the look.

Contrasts: Stella McCartney’s dresses featured panels of solid black fabric contrasted with polka dot prints for an architectural look. Mixing a print with a solid colour is a great way for the less adventurous to experiment with this trend.

Accessories: A little goes a long way. I love the retro vibe of Marc Jacobs’ sheer polka dot tights, while dotted handbags and scarves add some fun to your look.

Unusual fabrics: Textured fabrics such as pony hair add depth, while Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent used patent leather for a futuristic look.

And what to avoid:

Never wear polka dots head-to-toe ie a matching top and skirt, unless you want to look like Minnie Mouse. Only Marc Jacobs can pull it off with panache. Also choose your colour combinations wisely – black and white is timeless while navy blue and red is unexpected yet chic. The colours should contrast but still be complementary – that means red and pink is a no-no. And don’t mix it with another print – you are asking for trouble!

Diane von Furstenberg jacket, Lanvin silk chiffon blouse, Marc Jacobs dress (HK$17,900, inquiries: +852 2523 3324).

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