A colleague asked me why I never wore polka dots. The answer was that it never occurred to me.
Like most women, I’m cool with stripes, checks and plaids. But there’s something funny about polka dots. Literally humorous. Wear too many big ones, and you’re ready for the center ring.
Men look playful in brightly colored polka-dot ties. They’re almost standard issue for comedians. But men don’t wear polka-dot shirts.
A polka-dot dress is a classic for women, but not so a polka dot suit. What woman would wear that to a board meeting?
Yet, ignoring this clean geometric pattern is a missed opportunity.
Over-the-top prints are hot, but their wearability limited. How many times do you want to show up looking like a giant hibiscus?
When money is tight, it’s better to work with classic patterns. Look at the mileage host Tim Gunn got from gingham in an episode of “Project Runway.” The always impeccably dressed Gunn paired a series of brightly colored gingham shirts with his sharply tailored jackets for just the right refreshing touch.
Classic buffalo checks are likewise trendy now. Animal prints, done to death, still have bite if used on pants or shoes.
Spotted fever spread wildly last summer with polka-dot dresses and blouses breaking out everywhere, and the motif continued for fall. Gwen Stefani was snapped in Paige Denim black-and-white polka dot jeans and a pink leather jacket in the October issue of InStyle.
J. Crew peppered much of its early fall collection with dots large and small on women’s sweaters, pants, blouses, skirts, purses and ballet flats.
It’s surprising what a dash of dots can do. A mini houndstooth and windowpane check knit skirt by Wolford is smart by itself. But add Wolford’s polka dot stockings and our curiosity is aroused. Where is she going with that?
It is said that straight lines suggest order and control, curved ones freedom and relaxation. Dots make us smile. That alone makes them worth a shot.
(Contact Barbara Bradley of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., at Bradleycommercialappeal.comom.)