Spot the difference: why the polka dot print is here to stay

Emma McCarthy

If the Zara dress of summer has taught us anything, it’s that fashion is still hot for the polka dot. You know the one: dotty, long-sleeved, mid-length and so popular it’s got its own Instagram account (see @hot4thespot, with 20.6k followers).

Chances are there’s one sat across from you on the Tube as we speak. Or perhaps you passed one (or seven) on route to Pret at lunch. Maybe your best friend owns it. Mine does. She’s currently contemplating what colour to dye it so as not to blend in with the aforementioned seven others in the Pret queue. But that was the dress of summer. And if the forecast is anything to go by, summer is officially over.

So the only question remains is what will be the dress of autumn? The answer: TBC. But we can almost guarantee that it will also be peppered in polka dots.

At least, if the pre-fall collections are to be the judge. The transitional drop of ready-to-wear which is in stores now, primed to clear the languishing entrails of the sale rails and offer a well-timed taster of the new season, is proof of the enduring power of polka.

Christopher Kane — a designer who has had fun in the sun this summer with his Insta-ubiquitous More Joy beach towels and phone cases, which riff on his catwalk collection inspired by Seventies book The Joy of Sex — has turned down the kink and dialled up the dots for his current offering. His are oversized and hand-drawn, appearing on rhinestone-trimmed satin dresses and full prom skirts.

Dotty: Silk blouse, £853, Petar Petrov (

For Vienna-based Petar Petrov, divinely draped silk dresses, fluid wrap skirts and pussy-bow blouses with flowing ties form the perfect canvas for polka dots in shades of monochrome or tangerine. You can even spy subtle spots hidden in his devoré velvet pieces.

Undoubtedly, it seems that the classic combination of black on white — as per Zara’s bestseller — is a recurring theme. Stella McCartney’s pre-fall collection spans flowing A-line skirts paired with matching long silk shirts in this monochrome combo, then again on a series of black pleated chiffon dresses with white dots.

British colour ambassador Olivia Rubin has taken the opposite approach with her technicolour new-season creations. Her polka dot du jour is rainbow and comes scattered on tiered ruffle maxi dresses and cowl-neck camisoles.

Whatever your polka of preference, it pays to seek out a lesser- spotted spot for next season. Especially if the rumours that a reverse version of Zara’s viral dress is bound for UK stores are true.