Prints and optical illusions. Polka dot

This is the third post of the series, here are the links to the first one (about Stripes) and the second one (about Plaid and Check).

As usual with most prints color of the background matters, you can use dark background for slimming effect and light background for widening effect.

But polka dot isn’t that simple. There are more factors in play: size and of cause color of the dots, how close together they are and if they placed on fabric regularly or randomly.

Bigger dots are more widening than smaller when scale of the print is the only factor that is different.

Scale effect. The right is the same print, but 4 times smaller

Scale effect. The right is the same print, but 4 times smaller

Darker dots create less widening effect when we are talking about dots of the same size and placement.

Effect of the distance between dots really depends on colorway. Light/warm dots on darker/cooler background are more widening when they are placed more close together, more dense, but cooler and darker dots on lighter/warmer background are less widening when there are more of them.

density_effect_on_diff_bkg

Rare dots on black will be slimming, more dense will give no effect on visual perception of size, dense black dots on white will be slightly widening, and rare black dots will be a little bit more widening, close to the perception of the pure white

But on the equally warm/cool background dots with the same warmth/coolness are more dense print is more widening.

Those two are warm and bright, so widening, but left one is even more widening, because it's more busy

Those two are warm and bright, so widening, but left one is even more widening, because it’s more busy

Contrast adds to the widening effect as usually with prints.

Grey is desaturated green/purple

Grey is desaturated green/purple, Green/purple version of print will be more widening, because there is a high level of color contrast

There are only two variants of polka dot which are slimming:

  • dark background small to medium dots that are far from each other;
  • dark background and vertically or especially diagonally organised dots.

Here is example of vertically and diagonally organized polka dots:

Here us direction effect,  Left fabric will behave like small scale check, and it will be slightly more widening, but actually they both are widening, because prints are busy, to avoid this effect there should be much less dots per square inch

Here is the direction effect, Left polka dot print behaves like small scale check, and it is slightly more widening, but actually they both are widening, because prints are busy, to avoid this effect there should be much less dots per square inch

Polka dot is “flattening”, making shape less sharp when it’s busy and it could be distorting shape if dots are oversize.

Super large polka dot print on sweater. It's distorting the shape and body of the model looks somewhat assymetric

Super large polka dot print on this sweater is distorting the shape and the body of the model looks somewhat asymmetric

Taking into account all aforementioned it may look like to banish this playful and youthful, yet feminine and classical print is the best wardrobe decision.  Please, don’t, if you like it – wear it! It’s so retro. It’s just made for full skirts with wide contrasting belts, lingerie, tops which should be worn under jackets or cardigans (to lighten up an outfit and give it a touch of joy). And light medium to small not dense dots on navy or black are perfectly slimming! And after all a little bit widening print isn’t the end of the world, maximum thinness isn’t what make you look great.

Picture from The Sartorialist blog. Click on image for more polka dot outfits

Awesome set from Mimi Holliday

Awesome set from Mimi Holliday

The only case when it’s a good idea to consider avoiding the print near your face IMO is when your face is all straight lines and angles. In that case the print could be very unflattering or just look odd.

Face line effect. Soft face lines + blouse from Aliexpress vs straight face lines + sweater from Gucci

Face line effect. Soft face lines + blouse from Aliexpress vs straight face lines + sweater from Gucci

That’s pretty much it about polka dot, but there are more prints to come. So thanks you for your attention and to be continued ).

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