The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Authors Posts by Megan Stacey

Megan Stacey

Columnist - Megan Stacey is a Cincinnati native with a passion for fashion. She founded Polka Dots & Pleats as her New Year's Resolution in 2012 to share her love with others. Blogging is just a hobby for this working mother. Megan graduated from Miami University in 2005 and earned her master's degree from Xavier. She currently works for Keller Williams as a real estate professional. Contact her at

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Our fashion columnist shares her top 10 perfect presents for the fashionistas on your list (including yourself!).


‘Tis the season for peppermint mochas and a latte on your “to do” list! If you still have a few gals on your list, here are a few fashionable options:

Personalized Presents
Typically, you need to plan personalized gifts well in advance if you are custom ordering a monogramed piece. But it’s not too late to achieve the same concept without the long wait.


Nordstrom is a good option to pick up a personalized piece. And they are happy to return or exchange gifts with ease.

  • Kate Spade “One in a Million” Initial Pendant Necklace: Pick up this personalized piece for a reasonable price. It makes a simple, classic statement. Select someone’s first initial or the initial of their little ones. Layering a few to represent multiple children is another cute option.
  • Alex And Ani Bracelet: Buy one or several of these stacking bracelets. Choose from initials, zodiac signs, birthstones and more for the ultimate individualized present. Even if she has one of these already, add to her collection. You can never have too much arm candy! 
  • Anthropologie Initial Mugs: Fill these with hot cocoa and marshmallows. The price is right for women at work or as a little extra. 


Warm Woolen Mittens…And Other Winter Gear
A few favorites to wrap under the tree includes warm weather gear from mittens to coats. Give her something to keep her cozy in the cold or looking trendy in the frigid temperatures. J.Crew and Madewell are both good places to find winter wear. J.Crew Factory located in Monroe or Rookwood carries classic pieces for great prices.

  • Less Than Tacky Sweater:  Festive fairisle sweaters are a fun option. J.Crew Factory and Old Navy have a great selection. Typically, buy these on the smaller side for a more polished look.
  • Puffy Vest: This is the hottest casual item of the season. Whether buffalo check or herringbone, she will adore this look to wear with boots and leggings.
  • Rain and Snow Boots: Swing by Nordstrom to pick up a pair of Hunter or Sperry boots. If she doesn’t have these as we venture into snow days, you’ll want to add them to her wardrobe.
  • Blanket Scarf: Zara, Target and Madewell all offer this cozy accessory. This is the perfect present if you’re not sure what size to buy in clothes or shoes.


Good As Gold
Still struggling to find something? Buying for someone that has everything? Show them that they were as good as gold this year.

  • Kendra Scott Tassel Pendant Necklace: Perfect to pair with a new blouse or sweater. The tassel pendant necklace comes in several colors. It’s a great gift for mom or your sister. Shy away from buying it for your busty buddies.  Long necklaces are not flattering to curvy figures.
  • Michael Kors Watch: Looking for a luxe item? Add this watch to her collection. It’s a must-have statement piece that is worth the money.
  • Kate Spade Paper goods: Try this stocking stuffer for the girl who has everything. Help her kick off 2016 inspired with glamorous paper goods.

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Think you’ve out-aged crop tops and rompers? Think again. Our fashion columnist shows us how to wear these trends with age-appropriate style.

Remember in your younger years when you spent the entire week planning your outfit for Friday and Saturday night? If you’re like me with a busy lifestyle, working and caring for kiddos, those days are long behind you. Here are a few tips to look stylish for a GNO. I typically suggest saving ultra-trendy looks for the girls since it is wasted on date night.

Crop Tops
Get back up from your initial shock of this suggestion before you become “fashion roadkill”! Yes, you can wear a crop top even if you don’t want to flaunt your midriff. How? There are two options if you want to rock this trend without showing off your bellybutton.

• First, wear high-waisted skirts or skinny pants. If you bring your waistline up, you can wear crop tops without showing any skin.

• The second option is to wear a button down underneath so you have a cute layered look. This allows you to participate in some print play as well.


Rompers & Jumpsuits
Think onesies are only for babies? Think again. I spent months trying on strapless jumpsuits and patterned rompers.

Conclusion: Keep it simple and find a flattering cut for your figure. I opted for a basic black number from The Loft. They carry several options that are more sophisticated than a quick stop at Forever 21. You can dress it up with accessories. If you’re going to experiment with these pieces, I’d suggest wearing heels to lengthen the look. Can’t wait to transition it into Fall with a scarf, booties and jean jacket.

Moto Jackets
This is a classic staple for your wardrobe this season. It can be worn with jeans or over dresses. Layer a moto jacket over your favorite work dress for a weekend ready look. Moto jackets are available in several colors and materials. Most popular would be pleather. Be sure to buy one that looks similar to real leather. Colors in vogue this season include blush and olive to mix it up from the standard black or brown.

092815STYLE3Rent The Runway
Why go out and buy something to wear for one night out? Search RTR for a fun option. You only need to order it a few days in advance and they will send you two sizes. Try to stick with brands or styles that you know look good on you so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. They have a lot of affordable options under $50.


No matter what you wear, be sure to relax and have a good time. Spend your GNO with ladies who add value to your life. Worry less about what you are wearing and more about laughing.

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Our fashion columnist survived Beauty Basic Training to bring back these tips for finishing your look with the right hairstyle and makeup.

Our fashion columnist, Megan Stacey, shares tips on how to perfect your makeup and hairstyle.

Have any of you ever experienced a bad hair day? Or bags under your eyes that are far from designer? Lately with a very active lifestyle, while styling outfits is second nature, beauty basics are complex, Enter Zephyr Blowout Salon to save the day! When I heard about their Beauty Basic Training event, I knew it was just the refresh this mama needed to brush up the rest of my look. Here are a few lessons learned.

Set What You Want to Get
The team at Zephyr was super helpful and patient with a novice like me. During this fun tutorial, I learned that to achieve the Victoria Secret model curls that I desire, it takes technique. They taught me the best way to curl my hair including making sure it is completely dry. I mean absolutely, 100% no moisture and then setting as well as spraying the curls. This experience taught me to give styling another try and not settle for the same plain Jane look every day. I enjoyed practicing at home all the lessons learned.


Like any artist, you need the right tools to achieve your desired results. The ladies at Zephyr helped me figured out how to select and use the right styling tools.
Here are a few tips I learned:
• Use giant Velcro curlers to add volume at your crown.
• When you use a teasing comb, brush down then away.
• Avoid bobby pins when setting curls because it will leave a kink.

Makeup a Reason to Treat Yourself
Along with a hair tutorial, I also received makeup training by Trish McEvoy’s Nordstrom stylists. If you have never done this, visit their makeup counter to experiment with different colors and techniques. Your makeup can serve as a compliment to your features and personal style. Adding a little smoky shadow to your eye can transition a look from daytime to evening. Using a little concealer under your eyes can make you look 10 years younger. And adding color to your lip, brightens your face and accentuates your smile.

Overall, I thrived in Beauty Basic training and am so grateful to Zephyr for providing the 101 version for me. Visit their chic blowout bar in Oakley to find the right do to compliment your personal style.


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It’s time for springtime and fun, flirty dresses! Read on as our fashion columnist shares the three best ways to add a new spring dress to your wardrobe this season.

Keep your eye out for shift and shirtdresses this spring and summer!
Keep your eye out for shift and shirtdresses this spring and summer!

It’s officially time to ring in spring in Cincinnati. Although the season started a little bit ago, the weather is in bloom and we can finally slip into spring dresses with bright heels. Dresses are feminine and flawless when it comes to styling a look. Simply select a dress, layer on a few jewels, and step into a pair of shoes. Easy, breezy so you can enjoy some sunshine. Whether you are looking for a dress for Keeneland, graduation, wedding or garden party, here are a few styles that are hot this season:

Shift and Shirtdresses
Both styles are flattering on most body types and work well in spring since they usually have a sleeve.

Shift dresses gradually get wider at the bottom. You can find them in both fitted and looser cuts to best fit your shape. Lilly Pulitzer offers several options in bright patterns like the Charlene Print Dress and solids like Topanga Lace Shift Dress that are perfect for parties.

Shirtdresses button down with a cinched waist and easily transition from work to weekend wear.

Be sure to add a fit and flare dress to your closet this season!
Be sure to add a fit and flare dress to your closet this season!

Fit and Flare
Creates an hourglass silhouette because it shows off your waist with a fuller skirt. Whether you’re dressing up or down, fit and flare is a hot trend this season. This style looks gorgeous for weddings or graduations in colorful lace like this one by BB Dakota. Fit and flare is also an opportunity to wear floral prints or mix patterns like this dress by Taylor. 

Two Pieces
Coordinating tops and skirts give the illusion and ease of a spring dress but offer more bang for your buck. Not only can they be worn together, but they can serve as separates to diversify their look. Kate Spade is leading the way with this timeless, classic look. By pairing together two pieces that are alike or using a common color like green in this Stripe Romona Top, outfit planning is simple. Shop the look for less at department stores or create your own combinations from existing clothes.

Two-piece outfits are a popular trend this season.
Two-piece outfits are a popular trend this season.

Take an inventory of the rest of your seasonal wardrobe. Pastel or tweed jackets are great to layer over a dress. Additionally, consider adding culottes, scallop hem pieces and crop tops for the brave ladies out there!


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Are you in the market for a new handbag? Already thinking about a spring bag? Our fashion columnist alleviates the baggage of selecting a new purse.

Shopping for a purse reminds me of dating in my single days. I’m looking for a lasting relationship and don’t want to rush into anything. I’d rather prioritize desired characteristics and wait for the right one to come along.

Here are a few ways to help make your selection:


Like it or not, this is the most important factor when selecting a bag. I love monogrammed envelope clutches but my weekends consist more of baby music class and church than going out on the town in stilettos. Try to be practical when selecting the type of bag you will use the most often. Spend more on styles that are a good match for your lifestyle.

As a working mom, I like to find bags that can double as diaper bags and briefcases. However, it’s always fun to add a little statement clutch for girls’ night out or sequins evening bag for weddings.

In order for a purse to fit your lifestyle, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Be sure to check to see if the inside has pockets for your cell phone and keys as well as plenty of room. Avoid bags that create the bottomless black hole where you can never find anything. These are deep and often lack compartments. The lining is also an important factor especially if you are tossing half of your belongings in there on the regular. Make sure the lining is easy to clean.


Remember when you wanted a purse to match every outfit? Now it’s better to buy fewer, nicer bags than have a dozen inexpensive options. Regardless of your budget, go for quality over quantity.

From Target to Tory Burch, look for durable materials, sturdy hardware and a structured shape. When setting a price point for a new purse, consider that a higher end bag with nice leather will last longer than a discount one. It’s worth spending a little more and vowing to carry it for a year or two without changing it out frequently.

Want the look for less? Take a day trip up to the Jeffersonville outlets. They have a Kate Spade store that often offers 60% off the already discounted price. They also have a Michael Kors and Coach.

If you promise not to bid against me, I’ll also suggest shopping ebay for luxury purses you love. Be a cautious buyer by checking seller ratings, ensuring authenticity and making sure they accept returns. This is a great way to get a gently used or brand new designer bag.


Yes, we all agree that having a nice black bag is as essential to your wardrobe as a LBD. Don’t be afraid to branch out with color and style. Brights can be as neutral as beiges and blacks if you worry less about coordinating. I’d suggest having a colorful and classic option to choose from for every season.

Look for variety when it comes to how you carry the bag. Having the option for a cross-body and shoulder is beneficial. Anyone else hoping backpacks come back in style?

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My Polka Dots & Pleats blog started three years ago as my resolution. I was determined to convert from a consumer to a prosumer of content. Standing there in front of a closet full of clothes uninspired to get dressed, I took a step towards a more stylish self.


How many of us have ever been faced with the timeless dilemma of having “nothing” to wear? Start by waking up every morning and wearing the best version of yourself. Let’s agree that style is an expression, not definition of self. In reality you probably have plenty to wear but haven’t uncovered new looks with existing pieces. Here are a few suggestions to ramp up your style in 2015.


Define your own personal style and flatter your figure.
Whether your personal style is classic, chic, or glam, know what flatters your figure and shop for these pieces. Fit always trumps trend. Identify and highlight your best feature. Focus on what you want to draw attention to instead of what you are trying to hide. For example, I wear pencil skirts and dresses with patterned tights to draw attention to my legs. Select earrings that compliment your eye color or tops that highlight your curves.


Remix your wardrobe.
If your closet were a store, would you shop there? Shopping your closet begins with organization. Donate items that no longer fit or you dislike. Dress for Success is a great way to give back while accomplishing this goal! Next, select 3 items that need more love and style a look around each one. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to match as long as you have a similar color concept or balance of prints. Mix it into your wardrobe in a new way. Your plaid scarf goes with much more than just your black dress. Try it with a chunky sweater, chambray shirt, bright blazer, studded sweatshirt or white blouse. Tie it in a different way or layer it with a necklace.


Finally, take a trip to the mall.
You caught me! I typically advocate for online shopping because it’s more convenient. But every season, you need to put on some comfy shoes and physically go shopping. Update your collection by selecting a few new items to add to your wardrobe. January is an amazing time to find deals on winter wear. Look for anything in marsala (Pantone’s color of the year) which is similar to a red wine. Good buys include: faux-leather ANYTHING, sheer tops and statement clutches.


Most importantly, have fun with fashion by wearing sparkly jewelry, incorporating prints, and experimenting with color. When in doubt, add one extra texture or detail to your look.


Still lacking inspiration? Join Pinterest or Instagram to follow fashion bloggers who share style tips and daily wears. Determine your favorite store and study their style via the website, catalog, and mannequins. Ideas are all around so you never have to fret about what to wear again!

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I remember my first day back to work after the birth of my daughter like it was yesterday. Chances are if you are a working mom, you do too. What you wear on the inside as a working mom far surpasses any outfit tips I can provide. Here was my blog post the night before returning to work:


I’ve been planning what I will wear to work tomorrow for over 12 weeks. Yes, that is much more intentionality compared to the quick outfits I throw together while hurrying out the door. Tomorrow I will wear what many mothers before me have suited on.

My first day back to work will be so emotionally challenging. I pray I can wear pride, a sense of self, courage, and intelligence. But my accessories will no doubt reflect guilt, doubt, and vulnerability.

Making the choice to be a working mom is one I always knew was right for me, but it doesn’t make it any easier. This article inspired me to remember why I’m making this choice for our family: 

I hope one day to explain to Emory why I work and how heartbreaking it was to leave her. I hope she understands and feels empowered to make whatever choice best meets the needs of her family and her heart. I hope she is blessed enough to be able to have that decision. There are so many things I wish for my little girl!

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Although the details of my outfit are included, it’s what I wear tomorrow and everyday within myself that counts.



So a year later, what have I learned? Being a working mom is HARD WORK! Here are some tips to simplify your life if you want to maintain a sense of fashion despite a busy lifestyle:


Plan Ahead
I used to enjoy trying on several outfits in the morning before heading to work. Now with limited time and a little one who causes a welcome distraction, it’s crucial to plan ahead. When possible, plan your outfit the night before or spend time on Sundays organizing options. Consider diversity in your planning. Wear dresses on Mondays and Wednesday, skirts on Tuesday and Thursday and pants on Friday…or whatever combination works for you. Setting some kind of outfit routine will help you plan looks in a pinch and minimize the anxious am emotion of having nothing to wear. When in doubt, wear all black and pile on the accessories. You’ll look polished and professional.


Shop Online
You spend the week busy at the office and evenings and weekends are booked solid with activities. Who has time to shop? Sneak in some shopping before everyone wakes up with a nice cup of hot coffee or late in the evening with some wine. Think of it as retail therapy in your jammies. Spending money on yourself is tough to justify but set a budget and treat yourself to a few trendy pieces each season. When shopping online, make sure to buy a brand you know you like the fit and quality. You definitely don’t have time to run around making returns. Another great mommy secret is Target. Let’s face it, you are going there this week anyway, why not browse quickly for yourself? They always have fun, fresh styles.


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Buy Weekend Wear
Most of your clothing budget probably is allocated to look the part from 9 to 5, but be sure to save some for the weekends. Buy comfy yet stylish looks to run your kiddos to sports and avoid that MOMent where you are caught looking like a hot mess. If you want to spend a little more, Lululemon is great for weekend wear. Otherwise, T.J. Maxx and Old Navy tend to have chic, comfy options. Invest in a fun pair of snazzy sneakers to complete the look like some throwback New Balances or leopard print Nikes. Finally, the hardest thing for me as a working mom is finding the desire to go out on the weekends. This was probably the biggest shift since I used to be the life of the party kinda gal. But there’s a season for everything, and those days are behind me for now. However, when you do decide to go out on the town with grownups, be sure your wardrobe is ready. Leather leggings and a fun top will do the trick.

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It’s that time of year again to bundle up and load on the layers. We all remember how cold it was last winter. While most Cincinnatians run to Kroger for milk and bread before the snow falls, I’m hurrying to Kenwood to stock up on winter trends to stay warm this season. With a frigid forecast upon us, get your closet ready for the cold with these winter trends.


Oversized Outerwear & Capes
Outwear is your biggest statement piece in the winter. A warm, fashionable coat is a must-have. This season, Olivia Pope aka Kerry Washington from Scandal is continuing to inspire outwear with the belted look. Of course, my wishlist includes an oversized, colorful belted overcoat. If you’re a bargain shopper, you can find this look at stores like T.J. Maxx or J.Crew Factory.


Capes are also the perfect way to stay warm while looking cute. From errands to the office, capes can be paired with leggings and boots or wool dresses with tights. Capes are cozy and last winter I loved how they flattered my post-baby figure. If you’re going to wear a cape with leggings, make sure it is long enough to cover your backside. I’m a firm believer that if you’re over 16 years old, you can only wear leggings if your top is long enough. Capes with collared shirts, turtlenecks, and scarves are the perfect top layer for winter wear.


Faux fur vests or collars are a classic style for outwear. If you want to stick with a timeless trend, bundle up in a furry piece. It is guaranteed to keep you warm too!


Chunky Sweaters & Scarves
Make these feel a little less bulky by pairing them with fitted pieces like skinny leather pants or fitted jackets. Everyone will be envious of you as you keep warm in the chilly weather with knits. I’d suggest finding winter white sweaters with a flowy fit. Banana Republic offers chunky yet feminine options.


Blanket scarves are also super trendy this season. Just the idea of it makes me less intimidated to weather the cold. Dress it up with a wool blazer or down with boyfriend jeans. Either way, stock up on plaid or print blanket scarves. Target and Forever 21 have affordable options.


Keep your bootie, I mean feet, warm with the right shoes. Booties are a great alternative to pumps and look adorable with opaque tights or skinny jeans. Tan booties are really in this year. Be sure to spray them to protect them from the elements. Speaking of wet weather, on weekends, you’ll find me in my Uggs or Hunters. Regardless of style, make sure you have at least one pair of boots that are waterproof for when the big storm hits. Snow and salt quickly take a toll on winter footwear. If you haven’t already done so, take your boots to a local shoe repair like the one in Mt. Lookout to get them ready for the long winter.


Remember that being warm is always in style. Be sure to locate your warm socks, knit hat, and tech-friendly gloves so you’re all set for the cold weather. Treat yourself to a cozy robe and some slippers for the days when you decide hibernating indoors is a better option.

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Halloween is the ultimate opportunity to dress up. Whether you’re going to a party or handing out candy, make your costume a chance to be silly, spooky, or highlight your personality. The most important tip when planning your costume is to be whimsical yet tasteful. Some women view Halloween as a chance to wear short, tight, or unflattering clothes all in the spirit of the holiday. Although it wasn’t a good look even in your college years, it may have been more socially acceptable. Be the hit of the party with some modest, grown-up costumes.


● The Devil Wears Prada- Even if you don’t own a designer handbag, you can still wear this simple, chic costume. Buy devil horns and a tail to pair with a black outfit. Print or craft a Prada logo to label yourself.
● Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s- You already have this classic look in your closet. Grab your LBD, pearls, and sunglasses. Style your hair in a bun and you are basically set. If you happen to own anything from Tiffany’s or have a blue bag, use this to add a little pop of color.
● Kate Spade or Pick a Designer- Wear a preppy outfit or deck yourself out with spade playing cards. Next, add a nametag that says, “Hi, My Name is KATE.” You could also dress as Coco Chanel, Betsey Johnson, or Lilly Pulitzer.


● Minnie Mouse- Find pieces with polka dots and incorporate red accessories. Next, purchase mouse ears and wear white gloves to complete the look.
● Cruella Deville- Let’s be honest, this idea involves a lot more effort but is such a classic choice. In order to make this work, you must style your hair or buy a wig to really emphasize this character. Clothes can be simple with a faux fur or some kind of oversized jacket paired with a dress. Wear a hint of red and most importantly bring along your favorite furry pup or stuffed animal. If you’re a mom of a little one, Pottery Barn Kids has an adorable spotted dog costume!
● Flapper or Pick your Favorite Decade- Buy or rent a fringe dress to wear with a head dress and fishnets. Tie a long strand of pearls around your neck and you’re ready. 50s attire is also a fun decade to inspire your costume. If you want to rent something, check out Talk of the Town in Reading. It’s like walking into a wonderful fashion time warp. They have a 60s floral dress that I adore!


Group Effort
● Cast of Characters- Whether it’s your favorite video game like Mario or old school cartoon like The Flintstones, grab a group of your besties and dress up together. You’ll have fun picking out your costumes and several minds are better than one.
● Super Heroes- I’d pick Superwoman but there are so many options. Find a cape and discover your inner super powers.
● Where’s Waldo- If you’re going to a party as a group, this is an easy, fun option. Plus, stripes and statement glasses are super hip right now.


Still scrambling for a last minute look? Rosie the Riveter is a perfect choice for any girl wanting to show off her strength. Grab your chambray shirt and bandana. Be ready to flex!


Regardless of what you wear, have a safe and enjoyable Halloween!

Photo credit: Lauren Conrad

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Polka dota & pleats and leater & plaid are go-to favorites.

Contemporary style enables you to mix and match many combinations to find the perfect pair. Before I started blogging, I spent quite a bit of time fretting over whether or not my outfit matched. Now I realize that anything goes and the trick is really finding a good balance of color, texture, and prints. When styling a look, consider partnering fitted with flowy and deals with designer pieces. Looking for a little inspiration? Here are some of my “go-to” favorites:


Polka Dots & Pleats
Since naming my blog after this perfect pair, you see various combinations of both. Big or small, polka dots exemplify preppy yet whimsical attire. Pleated skirts are a great option this season especially if you can find one that looks like leather. Wearing them together is a great option for brunch with the girls.


Leather & Plaid
Vegan leather is EVERYWHERE for fall. It’s tough to walk through the mall without seeing a leather sleeve, jacket or trim. Mix this look with plaid for a cozy yet sophisticated combination. Look chic while enjoying a fall bonfire and continue sporting it into the frigid winter (which none of us are ready to even think about, right?). Leather and plaid works well for the office and can easily be dressed down for weekend wear. Stick with classic prints when buying plaid such as buffalo checks or tartan. Both are super in style now but the fashion forecast suggests they will last several seasons.


Stripes & Floral
You might be thinking that this combo is too loud for your taste. Think again, take a risk and have a little fun. You probably already have both in your closet. If do you plan to wear two prints together, make sure one is delicate and the other one is bold. For example, wear skinny stripes with large floral print or small floral with wider stripes. Look for fall floral fabrics including pants, scarves, jackets, and dresses. Select darker hues to avoid looking like you’re hanging on to summer.


Now it’s your turn! Go ahead and try a few of these pairings. Let us know how it goes. When you’re ready for more inspiration, follow me on Facebook at Polka Dots & Pleats. I look forward to partnering with you on this fashion journey.