How can I wear polka dots without looking cutesy?

Q. I recently bought a ’50s dress with a brown polka dot motif on an ivory background. I love the dress, but every time I wear it it feels incongruous with my more simple and put together style. I’ve seen the polka dot pattern on a lot of garments lately- is there any way to wear this print without looking cutesy? How can I make it more grown up? Thanks!

julia_roberts2.jpg.jpegA. Whenever I think of a brown and white polka dot dress, I am always reminded of Julia Roberts’ iconic look from Pretty Woman. At the time, this was the epitome of a sophisticated look. Perhaps it’s because of this dress that I rarely think of polka dots as cutesy. In fact, unless your dress is filled with multicolored dots, it is more about the silhouette of the garment than the dotted print when it comes to sophistication. A ’50s style dress with a full skirt and fitted bodice is a classic, grown-up style. Try pairing a fitted cardigan and strappy sandals with your dress to make it look even more ladylike if you’re concerned.

To prove that your dress was a smart purchase, below are several age-appropriate polka dot dresses:

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