POLKA DOTS ANYONE?
Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Small or big, sparse or dense, monochrome or multicoloured. Good for all body shapes and actually considered as a "basic" print. Ideal for all occasions and on all bases: from cozy winter jumpers to maxi flowy resort dresses. It can be spotted at a brunch nearby a pool and at the Oscars on a dramatic couture dress.
Yes, I am talking about polka dots. And, oh boy!, how do I love them.
By definition, polka dots is a pattern created by "a large number of small, round spots that are printed in a regular pattern on cloth" (thank you Oxford Dictionary).
Something so small has managed to wind up in all of our wardrobes and resist trend after trend. Never "passé", it doesn't need to make a come back since it has never left in the first place.
Representative of the Eastern Europe traditional folk art (its name actually comes from the popularity of polka dance, at the time it became fashionable), it has been often associated to playful apparel even if lately it's been widely used for more formal and sophisticated fashion.
But it's history has been quite dramatic (a little drama is always good) and it's not been always under the spot light for the right reasons.
In the Middle Age, they were not so "in vogue" as people tended to associate them with contagious diseases like chicken pox, the Bubonic plague and all of these not so nice things to get.
Unfortunately, these bad reputation and association lasted throughout the whole Renaissance. No polka dots for Leonardo da Vinci underwear I assume... Stripes were not considered cool either, as they were the pattern of the outcast. Long story short, very very boring.
It's name as we know it for fashion, appeared for the first time in 1857 in women's lifestyle magazine Godey's Lady's Book with the following description: "Scarf of muslin, for light summer wear, surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots." At this stage they were mainly used on bow ties, handkerchiefs and scarves, especially in the England of the 19th century and the dandy fashion, promoted by iconic figures like Beau Brummel.
Let's not forget also the usage of this pattern done by the gypsies, bringing their moon shaped embroidery to the flamenco dancers (polka dots are still a very typical, flamenco related print in all Andalusia and the Spanish gypsies community). Actually, in Spanish, polka dots are called "lunares" or "little moons".
Towards the end of the 19th century also, improvements in weaving and printing on fabrics made possible the usage of the print on fabric bases and BOOM! A star was born.
During the beginning of the 1920's, Miss America Norma Smallwood and her iconic swimsuit (Marilyn Monroe followed her example in1951) and the one and only Minnie Mouse made this awesome print trendy has it never was before, so much that all over the 1930's and 1940's it was used everywhere, from dresses to bows for the hair, from swimsuit to kitchen wear.
In 1954 Christion Dior created what was destined to become an iconic piece in fashion: THE polka dot dress. For the first time was used in couture and associated to a more formal, ladylike and sophisticated universe on his “New Look” collection of hourglass dresses.
In 1962, DC Comics also introduced Polka-Dot Man with irregularly-sized and differently. I mean, a polka dot villain... YASSSS!
Twiggy in the 60's and the hippie fashion generated, the bohemian fashion in the 70's... polka dots keep on being on a roll and be basically everywhere.
In the 1980's, genius Venezuelan designer Venezuelan fashion designer Carolina Herrera made polka dots even more mainstream by using them on most of her collection and perfumes packages.
Polka dots are here to stay, guys! Make sure you keep them in your wardrobe and don't be afraid to take them out. It's the print for winners (it's the print of the t-shirts worn by the first positioned cyclist at the Tour de France, I mean, how cool is that?).