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Be trend-center with dotted styles!

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Spot on fashions

"I howled when I saw your polka dot [style questions]," writes Kirk Sullivan, a Public Relations Director with IQAir North America. "My wife is a wedding gown designer and boutique bridal shop owner. She has had her shop in our small town for 20-plus years, and she told me a few weeks ago that she knew the polka dot fad had really hit when -- for the first time ever -- she had a girl order a polka dot wedding gown!"
Polka dots!

Even if you're not married to the idea of a dotty wedding dress, you can't help but notice that polka dots are everywhere — in our accessories, our dresses... even our home décor. In fact, according to Carolyn Clark, a representative of Yahoo, search data for the phrase "polka dot designs" was up 56% in the last month. But where did it come from? And how can we best harness the trend — without abusing it? As a polka-dot-stalker myself (my new apartment is decked out in the pattern, from potty to pantry!), I know that these little dots were hot all the way back when I Love Lucy rocked a LPPD of her very own. (Um, that's "little polka dotted dress" for the un-with-it among you). I was excited though to chase down the scoop on where this trend sits now — and how best to work it into our own closets.Jeane B. (jeaneb.com) is an expert in personal image analysis, development and management and also the author of The Be. System, a fashion editor for Gannett, editorial/wardrobe stylist and columnist.Here's a few of her tips for adapting to the polka-dot craze — along with our picks on some of the sexiest products currently out there waiting to bedeck your sexy summer body!

1. Don't clown around

Polka dots in accessories, such as shoes, handbags, and scarves, are a "stand-out" addition -- not all together, but rather as one accessory at a time. Do not pair polka dot accessories with a clothing ensemble of more polka dots, or you will look like the clown at a child's birthday party!Accents make the outfit, and while you may not mentally attach a trend like polka dots with being subtle, that couldn't be further from the truth. Try adding some punch to a basic ensemble with cute shoes, like the Demonia Daisy 63 sandal shown at right -- a steal right now at under $35 at ShoeBuy.com. Of course, you can also wear spots underneath your clothes -- imagine slipping into pretty polka-dot intimates -- we adore the new Hollywood Exxtreme Cleavage Bra and matching panties at Fredericks of Hollywood, as well as the Shirley of Hollywood Polka Dot Charmeuse and Lace Chemise (shown above).

2. Mix & match your dots

Polkadot scaryWhen pairing a polka dot accessory with an outfit, think of pairing solid bright or neutral colors only in the jacket, pants, top or skirt. This will make the outfit really flatter and stylize the look overall.  Accessories indeed make the outfit. Some of the summer's hottest shades are bright yellow or hot pink. Offsetting that with cute add-ons like Polka Dot Knee High Socks from Foot Traffic or a trendy Serenity Crystals Polka Dot Head Band (both available at Amazon.com for less than the cost of a sushi lunch special), will breathe new life into even the most conservative of day-to-night attire.

3. It doesn't have to be itsy bitsy, teeny weeny

Polka dot bikinis are fun and girly, and look terrific with a golden tan and bright nail polish! Polkadot bikini Polka dots have been iconic in the beachwear set ever since a certain pop song made it famous. RYGY (rygy.com), a Brazilian line, is capturing the trend with Twister and Allegro, two of the most popular swimsuits from their 2008 collection. Ricardo Caporal, one of the four principals of RYGY, explains: "I don't see people buying regular polka dots — they are too plain. With RYGY, you see a mix-and-match of polka dots. The new polka dot has to be cool and wearable in today's terms." Twister has ivory and taupe tones infused with tiny gold dots that modernly accent concentric circles -- and Allegro, from their 2008 Sport Collection (shown at left), showcases traditional, large white polka dots on red or navy blue lycra.

4. Make sure the dots flatter

When using polka dots in your clothing ensemble, wear the polka dot pattern on areas of your body that are smaller or longer than other areas. For example, if you have short legs, use polka dots in your top or scarf as opposed to pants or skirt. If you are small chested, wear them in your top -- if you have a flat bottom, put them on in a skirt or pants! Patterns always make the area of the body they appear on seem larger, shorter, or more pronounced than they already are. In the image industry, it's called a line break. Large-chested women take note: Go easy on the dots unless you are 5'10" tall and a size 2. (Or the aforementioned clown at the child's birthday party...) Polkadot shoes Have tiny ankles? (We hate you.) Increase their presence with the right pair of shoes, such as the T.U.K Women's Polka Dot Bow Pump or T.U.K Polka Dot Mary Jane, both available at Endless.com. Always have a cute manicure you want to show off? Maybe it's "time for a change." (Yes, we are really funny.) The Ecclissi Set of 6 Changeable Ribbon Straps at QVC.com offers another smart way of using the polka dot trend to your benefit -- this set of six grosgrain ribbon watch straps lets you choose the right style to match every outfit! It includes black with white polka dots, blue with white polka dots, dark pink with white polka dots, green with pink stripes, black with white stripes, and multiple stripes in primary colors.

5. Practice perfect polkadottery

Never use more than three colors maximum in an outfit with polka dots. For example, if the pattern in the dots is white and red, then pair it with yellow or blue -- or even better, with just another white or red item. Too many colors are overwhelming when compared to all those little dots... or big dots. Check out this adorable Du Jour sleeveless bubble top (at left), available at QVC.com. It's cheery chic in all the ways dot-fashions demand, but doesn't overdo the trend. Pair it with your favorite pair of slim jeans and heels, and it's perfect for a night out -- no matter your destination.Whether you are in your tweens, twenties or a mom with three kids, chances are polka dots push your buttons. Find your artful side, and discover the look that works — you'll feel on the spot in no time.Har har.

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