Five Days of Dots

Wearing polka dots for a whole working week

It’s been a while since I’ve undertaken a clothing challenge. In the early days of working from home I found them to be a really fun way of motivating myself to bother getting dressesd every day, and I’ve actually learnt quite a lot about my wardrobe while doing them. I’ve done Dressing in the Age of Zoom, One Pinafore Dress Five Ways, and a Week of Vintage Inspired Outfits, among others. I find they’re a great way to really force yourself to embrace the versatility of your clothes, and see how much you can really make of them.

Weeks into yet another lockdown (I think Melbourne is officially the most locked-down city in the world), now seemed like a good time to have another go at a challenge. I went for something arguably both more and less challenging than previous efforts: five days of polka dots. This is such a classic print, but it can feel a little bit ‘costumey’. However, I’ve come to realise that I have a lot of polka dots in my closet. So it was a fun challenge to see if I could wear them everyday without getting bored, or feeling I was dressing up as a ‘50s housewife! Read on to see how I got on, and do share what you think of my outfits in the comments below!

Monday: Pretty dolka-dot puff sleeves

Image of Helen wearing a dark green mid-length dress with small white polka dots, with black rights and white sneakers.

Starting the week off with an easy outfit, I crawled out of bed and threw on this cute midi-dress from Calli. I’ve really fallen for the puff sleeve trend, and this iteration is different enough from other dresses I own to earn its place in my wardrobe. The small dots on dark green print is almost identical to a blouse I love but which has a massive hole in it, so there wasn’t much chance of me resisting this dress. Having said that, it can feel a little bit fancy for everyday wear, so I’ve dressed it down with some thick tights (sadly still necessary in Melbourne’s ‘spring’ weather) and my trusty Vejas. A super easy to wear but very fun outfit which started the week off on a high.

Tuesday: Monochrome and masculine

Image of Helen wearing black skinny jeans and a black button-down shirt with white polka dots and the sleeves rolled halfway up her arms. She also wears black patent brogues and a black belt.

This outfit has become a bit of a fallback for me on days when I’m struggling to decide what to wear. It’s a really silky long-sleeved shirt, paired with black high-waisted skinny Levi’s. I know I’ve written about moving on from skinny jeans, but they have a weird sense of ‘professionalism’ to them that I still enjoy, especially in outfits like this. Maybe just because they’ve become associated with slightly older people? Whatever it is, they have a comforting familiarity, and still work well with lots of my other clothes. The patent brogues set off the faux-croc belt, and the slightly masculine monochrome look is one that makes me feel ready to face the day.

Wednesday: Pink polka dots

Helen wearing a black mid-length dress with medium-sized pink, coral pink and white polka dots. She also wears black tights and brown ankle boots.

I tried for a long time to get a photo of this outfit where I actually looked cheerful. But my expression in this picture pretty much sums up how I ended up feeling about the dress. I used to love it and wear it all the time, but over the years I think this dress has developed into a bit of a Monet (to borrow Cher Horowitz’s phrase). The overall impression of the outfit is good, but once you get closer it looks messy. The button hasn’t been placed right, so the top doesn’t close properly (admittedly I could fix this), and the collar looks like it should fold and lie flat, but categorically refuses to do so, sitting high against my neck in a way that looks a bit weird, and just doesn’t suit the rest of the dress. Perhaps in the summer and without tights I’ll fall back in love, as it is pretty and pleasingly light, but for now, I think this outfit is a bit of a fail. It basically looks fine, but by the end of the day I was itching to take it off, and that’s the only measure that really counts.

Thursday: Multi-coloured and marvelous

Helen wears blue skinny jeans and a teal-green blouse with medium-sized polka dots in dark blue, light blue, pink and beige. She also wears brown brogues.

As you can tell, I felt a lot better about Thursday’s outfit. In a different pair of skinny jeans, my favourite brown brogues, and this new top from Princess Highway, it was hard not to feel cheerful. I just love this bright, breezy blouse. The dots aren’t in colours I’d usually go for, but against this teal-green I think they work really well, and I love the vintage feel of the collar and sleeves. The black belt stops things from feeling too matchy-matchy, and it’s such a comfortable outfit to wear that I didn’t want to take it off. The blouse could be dressed up or down, but I like this kind of smart-casual look works really well – you could throw a blazer on and be business ready, or swaddle yourself in a cardigan and be all cosy. Not a bad quality when you’re working from home!

Friday: Polka dot pinafore

Helen wears a grass-green puff-sleeved shirt with medium-sized white polka dots, and a black pinafore dress, with black sandals.

It wouldn’t be one of my closet challenges if I didn’t find a way to incorporate this favourite pinafore dress! This outfit came as close as any of them to the ‘costumey’ feel I was worried about, so I balanced this with the more modern feel of these black sandals from Atmos & Here. I’m a huge green fan (even my dentist commented on this!) so when I spotted (no pun intended!) this cute shirt at French Connection I knew I was on to a winner. This was the first time I’d paired it with the dress, and I’m not quite sure the ratio of green to black works, but the puffy sleeves give some good volume, and I think overall it works quite well. Full disclosure: as is typical of Melbourne, the morning’s bright sunshine soon turned to cloud and cold, so I added tights and swapped the sandals for sneakers. It’s definitely an outfit I’ll be trying again, and I think it could make a good transitional look for cooler spring days.

So what did you think? Did I convince you that polka dots are more versatile than they might appear? I’m honestly surprised by how different each of these outfits felt, and the different moods each of them put me in. Amazingly, this isn’t even all the polka dot pieces I own, so perhaps there’s room for a part two somewhere down the line? If you’re looking for something a little bit quirky and fun to liven up your wardrobe, I wholeheartedly recommend giving polka dots a go!

Thanks very much for reading! I know polka dots can be a bit divisive, a bit of a Marmite look – some people (like me) love them, while others can’t stand them. Are you a lover or a hater? Or somewhere on the fence in the middle? I’d love to see your polka dots outfits, so please share links to photos in a comment!


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