How To Lean Into The Polka Dot Renaissance Without Looking Too Twee

Polka dots are one of the most classic prints out there. Still "classic" doesn't always equal "fashion-forward." While we all know that there are more than a few early aughts relics rising from the dead when it comes to our wardrobes these days, many of us are still reluctant to see twee come back. Consequently, folks who shudder at the thought of a Tumblr-fied 2014 Zooey Deschanel-inspired wardrobe reboot are likely steering clear of polka dots. Yet, polka dots are about to have a moment. In fact, the moment is already here courtesy of major fashion influences like Harry Styles and the Chanel runway.


Polka dots are fun and versatile, so this is a trend that many of us will surely want to jump on. Still, that doesn't assuage our fears that in trying to pull off a trend, we'll end up looking dated and stuffy. For those of us who may be wary of dipping our toes into the polka dot renaissance, there are some simple tips and tricks that can ensure that we're doing this trend in a way that will leave us looking updated, cool, and as fun and carefree as the beloved print itself. 

Style with sporty layers and laidback accessories

One of the main reasons that a polka dot dress or skirt can lean into the twee side of things is because of its undeniably sweet and feminine vibes. Cutting into this look and watering down the cutesy-ness a bit can make the outfit look more balanced and modern. The best way to balance an overly delicate piece is by pairing it with edgy, sporty accessories. This polka dot maxi dress is styled with a simple, boxy jacket, chunky white athletic sneakers, and a black crossbody bag. It's easy to imagine just how different this dress would look when paired with the Mary Jane shoe trend and a pink handbag, even though at first glance, that pairing may seem like it works better.


Regardless of how feminine, classic, or twee-looking your polka dot clothing piece may be, styling it with edgy, sporty accessories can totally change the vibes it gives off. Try styling polka dot pieces with leather jackets, chunky boots, oversized denim, and sporty belt bags, just to name a few options. This is one of the easiest and most surefire ways of ensuring that your polka dots look trendy and cool, rather than stuffy and dated. 

Power Clashing

Power clashing is one of the coolest ways to add a bit of fashion-forwardness to your look, but that doesn't mean that it's not super intimidating for most of us and equally difficult to get right. Power clashing just means mixing prints in a way that looks like it would clash but actually somehow works. You've almost certainly seen it on a celebrity or a fashion runway before, but you can already guess what makes it so difficult to pull off. If you power clash in a way that ends up just clashing, people may wonder if you got dressed in the dark, rather than admire your fashion prowess. Luckily, there are a few easy tips to ensure that your power clashing works and this can be a foolproof way of making your polka dot pieces feel fun and new again.


When mixing patterns, choose those with a similar color. For example, most of us wouldn't have thought of pairing leopard print shorts with a polka dot top as seen in the above image, but because both of the prints have black as one of their only colors, these pieces work together. In most cases, it's best to stick to two bold prints and style with neutral accessories. This striped off-the-shoulder top would look chic and surprising when paired with this red and white polka dot skirt, white sneakers, and a brown bag. 

Carry your polka dots with you

Sometimes a simple solution is the best one, and when it comes to sporting polka dots in a modern way, this can often be the case. This is why one trick to getting more polka dots in your wardrobe in an on-trend way is by wearing your favorite simple, go-to outfit and carrying the polka dots with you — literally. Polka dot bags are all over the place, and they're a great way to add a little sprinkle of the trend to your outfit without having to think too much about creating a complex ensemble. That said, don't be afraid to pair your fave polka dot bag with 'fits that may feel dressier or busier; as we've learned, clashing can sometimes be a good thing. 


Who says more formal events can't be fun? Pair your LBD with this polka-dot clutch to shake things up a bit. For an everyday look, try something like this Kate Spade polka dot heart bag, which manages to be both neutral and super funky and whimsical. And, for carrying all your stuff along with you, this laptop bag is so chic thanks to the size of its polka dots.

Play with textures

Texture is one of the most frequently ignored ways to add interest to an outfit. Rather than mixing prints or colors, consider mixing different textures to build an ensemble with contrasting elements and complexity. This is a great way to elevate basically any outfit, but it can be an especially smart way of making your polka-dot ensemble feel modern and cool. These faux leather pants make this lightweight, flowy polka dot top feel edgier and more interesting.


There are so many different ways to play with texture, and you can let the polka-dot pieces that you already have in your closet dictate which fabrics you pair together. Crochet is "in" this summer; consider pairing a crochet top like this one with this polka dot midi skirt and some white sneakers. You could also pair this mesh polka dot crop top with a silk skirt like this one for a night out. Don't be afraid to experiment with different textures that you wouldn't typically pair together; the result just might elevate your look in a totally new way. 

Unexpected accents

When we think of polka dots, most of us probably think of a dress or skirt with a high-contrast print. Yet, as we've seen, some of the best ways to bring this print into any outfit is with accessories. From tights and socks to bags and shoes, there are so many polka-dot accessories that you can add to basically any outfit to incorporate just a bit of whimsy, femininity, and classic appeal. If you love polka dots and want to find fun new ways to incorporate them into your style and lean into the polka dot renaissance, why not go for polka dot tights or socks?


These polka dot tights are subtle and simple and would kick basically any outfit up a notch over a normal pair of black tights. And, just imagine these sheer socks scrunched up over your favorite sneakers. These subtle touches will help you incorporate the trend without going overboard.

Accessorize with stripes

Most of us would never think to style stripes and polka dots together, but this is a pattern pairing that looks way better than you might think. While these both tend to be bold, striking prints, that doesn't mean that pairing polka dots and stripes is always a full-blown power-clashing situation. The trick here is to choose coordinating colors and make sure that one of the prints is in an accessory. Most of us would have put on this white and black polka dot button-down with black wide-leg pants and opted for a bag in a bold pop of color. Yet, this black and white striped clutch makes this whole look feel so much cooler and more fashion-forward.


This unique pattern mix is especially chic when it comes to choosing your accessories. This striped tote bag would make this polka dot off-the-shoulder dress look so updated and fresh. Alternatively, imagine how cute this blue and white striped button-down would look with a pair of wide-leg jeans and these polka-dot flats

Tiny details

Bags aren't the only way to add a polka-dot accent to any 'fit. There are options that are even subtler and easier to throw on than a bag. We're talking about tiny accessories like jewelry, hats, and even hair accessories. Most of us don't usually think of incorporating polka dots in these subtler ways, but they can make any fashion moment feel just a bit more fun. 


Plus, there are so many options. This has to be the cutest baseball cap we've ever seen. This beret? We need it for fall. These bow earrings are too cute. These polka dot cat eye sunglasses could be thrown on with basically any outfit to make it look a bit vintage-inspired. Want your polka dot statement to be even subtler? Try these polka dot stud earrings for just a hint of the trend. And if you, like the rest of us, love a good Blair Waldorf-inspired moment, this polka dot headband is the cherry on top of any look.

Statement shoes

What better way to put some pep in your step than with polka dots? One way to incorporate more dots into your wardrobe is by investing in some printed footwear. Yes — this is far from the most common way to sport polka dots, but swapping out a solid color shoe for a bold polka dot pattern can add a different, more interesting twist to your go-to outfits and shake things up a bit.


We all need a good pair of heeled sandals for the summertime; why not make them polka dot, like this pair?  What about these adorable polka-dot booties for the colder months? And, polka dot footwear can be built for comfort, too. These subtle polka dot Converse high-tops are so unique and equally chic. Think of your favorite shoe staples and consider investing in these in polka dot prints for more whimsical styling options for any outfit.