How to Modernize Vintage Polka Dots

by Sammy in 3 Comments — Updated January 13, 2020

womens vintage fashion outfit polka dots sammy davis vintage

Hello and happy modern vintage Monday, everyone!!!

The past few weeks I’ve been posting weekly style posts that I’ve coined “modern vintage.”

Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Well perhaps it is … but that’s part of the attraction. I’m working as a blogger and stylist to show you how to mix the old with the new so that you can “modernize” vintage fashion for the gloriously gorgeous you of TODAY.

Last week I showed you how to modernize an ’80s bustier, and the week before I rocked a ’60s maxi skirt with boho chic cool of 2011. Most pieces with the exception of the ’80s bustier (a gift from The Vintage Mistress on Etsy) came from my own vintage fashion collection, plus “modern” pieces I’ve bought new as a lover of fashion and self-expression.

While our style interests may always be changing — one week you’re into pretty party dresses, the next you might be more into wearing matching skirt & top ensembles — but your style tendencies & tastes will always stay the same … or at the very least, grow within the same “family” of personal fashion preference!

I’m always up for an experiment in style, especially because I consider experimentation to be part of my duties as a tastemaker & style influencer  so that I can take that leap of faith and pass along wise words of fashion wisdom to you. But, what I’ve noticed between the lines of my “pushing the envelope” tendencies are a few key style tastes that no matter what other “fashion foods” I may try, I like to return to over and over again for a savory, scrumptious meal of style.

One of those fashion foods I keep stocked ‘a plenty are POLKA DOTS. I can’t get enough ’em. Big, small, ditzy, wide, wonderful, wild! I just think that polka dots compliment any girl because they are so versatile — from sassy to sophisticated; conservative to colorful … you can be 110% yourself in the polka dots of your choice.

Keep reading after the jump for insights into one of my favorite fashion foods, and how I modernized these vintage polka dots into a look that speaks for the styles of today. Plus, at the bottom of the post I linked to a few of my favorite polka dot pieces on so that you can consider matching the look for yourself!

Ah, glorious SUMMER! I hope that wherever you are in the world that you’re enjoying some sunshine today — and that today’s post inspires you to pull out some polka dots for a polished, pretty you!

If you haven’t entered this week’s getaway, check out Gratefulness Friday before midnight today to enter for a chance to win a vintage bag & romper. Thanks again to the Krickett’s Jewel for sponsoring.

Happy Monday, everyone! Please say hello on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube & Email at [email protected]!

xx, SD


womens vintage fashion outfit polka dots sammy davis vintage

THE LOOK: Pairing navy & white polka dots with complementary navy pieces for a very streamlined style of navy & nudes from head-to-toe.

THE INSPIRATION: I have a maxi dress in my collection with a halter tie that is an entirely navy base speckled with white polka dots. Sometimes there are patterns that are too loud for the “full monty” of style, and should just be worn as tops or skirts so as not to cover your entire body.

But not polka dots! There’s just something oh-so-chic about wearing polka dots head-to-toe, and I feel quite empowered wearing that polka dot maxi dress to more formal affairs or dressed down with a white blazer on top.

I wanted to re-create the feel of head-to-toe polka dots by sticking to the same color family throughout the outfit and not hiding away from adding another “touch” of polka where needed!

HOW I MODERNIZED IT: The focus of this outfit rests in the polka dot straight-legged pants. I built from there, working with a double-breasted blazer and a lace top beneath. The polka dot scarf tied as a belt cinched the entire look for a more fitted feel, and the navy hat added a masculine edge that I balanced with some foot & ankle cleavage a la the heels.

The look is modern because I stuck to the same colors throughout. I could have added a brown or even brightly colored jacket, or just wore a shell top with the polka dot pants. But that would have put full attention on those pants. With all of these added accessories — including the vintage Kodak ’70s camera! — I’ve created a modern “look” so that attention rests on ME, and not just those darling dots!

womens vintage fashion outfit polka dots sammy davis vintage


vintage fashion outfit polka dots sammy davis vintage

THE HAT: ’70s fedora style hat

THE BLAZER: ’80s Evan Piccone double breasted navy blazer

THE TOP: Faux lace/sheer shell from The Limited circa 2003 (a keeper from back in the day!)

THE BELT-SCARF: One of those pieces I just can’t remember how I picked up! Definitely modern, and previously worn in my hair or as a fun accessory for a bland purse

THE PANTS: Thrifted ’80s/’90s Liz Claiborne high-waisted/straight-leg polka dot silk/rayon blend pants

THE HEELS: Thrifted Goodwill Outlet ’80s nude heels

THE CAMERA: Discovered in a closet clean out! A working ’70s Kodak automatic camera. Now, to find some film!



womens vintage fashion outfit polka dots sammy davis vintage

Wearing navy polka dots is a really fun & fresh look for summer, and you can even replace “navy” with the color du jour of your style tastes. With 4th of July fast approaching (can you believe that?!) wearing red, white & blue polka dots is an awesome substitute to show patriotic pride without actually wearing an American flag!

The key to re-creating this look is finding a “polka dot piece” that draws all attention to it. My polka dot piece were the vintage Liz Claiborne polka dot pants.

Let’s say you grab a polka dot dress like this one available at Modcloth (and also featured in my Polyvore collage below!). It’s a lovely sleeveless fit with a feminine waist — so much potential here!

The color palette here is navy and white — so play with these colors you will! First, I’d add a set of white pearls to complement the polka dots. Then, because this is a dress and not pants, shop vintage for a white eyelet or crotchet lace (basically, anything with “holes”) cropped jacket/cardigan  like this one available on Etsy right now.

Go neutral with your shoes to continue in line with the navy/white color palette. I love round-toed pumps with pretty party dresses … they’re much more comfortable to walk in than the pointy-toed kind. If these from Modcloth were in white, they’d be absolutely PERFECT!

To round out the look, add something up top! A white feather fascinator like this one on Etsy will really have you moving & grooving and doing the “polka dance” or pretty at your next summer party!

To recap how to recreate this look:

1.) Find your “polka dot” attention-grabbing piece

2.) Add additional pieces based on the colors of said polka dot piece (like navy & white)

3.) Look for accessories complementing the color of the polka dots — like a white pearl necklace for white polka dots

4.) Match your shoes to the polka dots

5.) Complement a color of your polka dot piece with a jacket, blouse or cardigan — I suggested a white eyelet or crotchet lace cardigan with a polka dot dress, but you can reverse and pair a navy-base/white polka dot piece with a navy blue piece, too for a more masculine look overall similar to what I achieved with this modern vintage look

6.) Add a fun element up top — like the hat I’m wearing, or a feminine fascinator of feathers


womens vintage fashion outfit polka dots sammy davis vintage


womens vintage fashion outfit polka dots sammy davis vintage

I love my modern vintage look because it’s just so streamlined without actually showing any skin! I feel very statuesque and ready to “seize the style” of my day wearing this look.

I’d wear this look to a business meeting so that I could leave a positive impression on the room upon entrance; or to a networking event so that I’d have something on people could comment on in order to introduce themselves to me.

Sure, fashion can be superficial. But fashion can also be functionally fulfilling toward the goals you have for your day. If my goal is to attend a business meeting and leave a positive impression that I am a poised, confident woman then this would be just the look I need to fulfill that desire.

If I were set to attend a networking event where I knew no one, having on some attention-grabbing polka dots is the easiest way for both women & men to approach me with, “I love your polka dots!” because it is a fashion design that is so universal and easy-on-the-eye.


Polka Dot Pretty


How to Modernize Vintage Polka Dots 11

Floral print dress
$60 –

How to Modernize Vintage Polka Dots 13

Mink Pink button dress
$100 –

How to Modernize Vintage Polka Dots 15

Polka dot party dress
$65 –

How to Modernize Vintage Polka Dots 17

Polka dot top
$58 –

How to Modernize Vintage Polka Dots 19

Esther williams swimwear
$90 –

3 thoughts on “How to Modernize Vintage Polka Dots”

  1. I love me some polkadots! Got a closet full ;)

  2. Весьма..

  3. I love this look Sammy. First, the nude heels make you look like a Glamazon! I love how you styled this look. Cool for spring and it’s nice and clean. great job!


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