If you don’t have polka dots in your closet, Princess Diana will change your mind. Right up there with her love for a bold, striking look — see the infamous “revenge dress” — the royal always had a soft spot for this graphic pattern — so much so, in fact, that she wore speckled styles throughout her entire reign as Princess of Wales and after leaving the firm. In particular, Princess Diana’s polka dot dresses were playful, a bit flirtatious, and certainly brought a cheerful energy to any room she walked into (as if she needed an outfit to do that).
The spotted motif proved to be a versatile daytime option for Di: She was seen wearing a green and white smock dress, complete with an oversize “puritan” collar, at a photo call in 1983 shortly after giving birth to Prince William. That same year, she took a more maximalist approach to the dotty design in a two-tone red and white Catherine Walker dress. Diana also wasn’t afraid to bring the look into her nightlife — please reference the blue and pink number (complete with puffy ‘80s-esque sleeves and pink sheer tights) that she picked for a movie premiere in 1986. Yes, Di’s many polka dot moments are proof that the classic design works for any occasion.
In many ways, too, she was ahead of her time: The print was all over the Spring/Summer 2023 collections — see Chanel, Saint Laurent, Burberry, and Proenza Schouler — and Vogue recently declared it a key street style trend. In general though, the royal’s wardrobe will always be relevant: Just look at the continual popularity of biker shorts, #NormCore, and a good old-fashioned power blazer. In fact, Jacquemus’ recent runway show was an ode to the former princess, and drew influence from some of her favorite jewelry, silhouettes, and designs.
This summer, give your elevated basics a break and slip into a polka dot number à la Di. You can gather style inspiration and shop her greatest hits, ahead.
Princess Diana was always a fan of a monochromatic moment (aren’t we all). Take this red and white Catherine Walker dress from 1989 as a prime example. She styled the number with white and red kitten heels, a matching envelope clutch, and of course, her signature pearl necklace. We like to think she would approve of this Miu Miu mini dress as well as the three others included below.
Try a chunky “puritan collar” frock for summer. (Yes, that is the style’s actual name.) In 1983, Princess Di wore the design via this green Donald Campbell dress while in Auckland, New Zealand. In the photo, she held baby Prince William on her hip while Prince Charles (now King Charles) stood by her side. To recreate this look, either opt for a removable puritan collar you can add to any of your favorite dresses and tops, or add one, or all, of the similar options below to your cart.
For a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy, Princess Di opted for another Donald Campbell number, this time in pink and white. Barbiecore is definitely en vogue this summer and this 1985 midi dress embodies that aesthetic. Add the following styles below into your own wardrobe.
Timeless Black & White
Most of Di’s recognizable looks feature long-sleeves and bright colors, but this 1996 sleeveless silhouette is one of our favorites and definitely fills our neutral polka dots quota. To go with the look, Diana traded in her usual kitten heeled shoes for ballet flats. And for the royal history buffs out there, her divorce from Charles was finalized shortly before this photo was taken. This might explain why her look feels more carefree and casual, as she no longer had to abide by the monarchy’s dress codes.
Diana wore this shirt dress with red and blue polka dots to a polo match in July 1983, but she could’ve very well taken it to any casual event. The red, white, and blue color scheme also make for a spot-on (pun intended!) outfit inspiration for July 4. Here’s a shopping tip for you, if you want to add this look into your summer rotation: two-tone dotted pieces can be difficult to find, so try browsing through consignment platforms like Depop and Poshmark for more vintage-inspired styles.