Because there are so many ways polka dots can go wrong—they can come off too costumey, too young, too goofy—I’ve got some pretty tough criteria for choosing them. To wit: I like them in the most limited palette of colors, all of which are dark and none of which are earth tones. I like when the actual dot is not a perfect sphere. And I like them on clean, sophisticated shapes. The dots on this shirtdress from Marimekko are much, much bigger than I usually find acceptable, but it works, in a poppy summery, fun way.
A small dot print on a straightforward button-down feels pretty classic to me.
The subtle dark-on-dark palette is what makes this sneaker chic and not crazy.
The easiest way to incorporate this (or really any) print into an outfit is with a scarf, and the pattern on this one is so pretty and painterly.
This tee is Proenza Schouler, so of course it costs a fortune, but boy, would it look cute peeking out from under a blazer.
Dots can be pretty genius for print-mixing, and this sweater quite conveniently does all the work for you.