Sunday, June 10, 2012

{Style Inspiration} Polka Dots

In the 1840s, the polka dance craze was sweeping Britain and America. The pattern is named after the dance - not because the two are in any way linked, but just because many products and fashions were given the name polka as a way of cashing in on the popularity of the dance. There were all manner of polka polka hats, polka jackets, and even polka curtain ties (!). Most of such polka fad names faded as the dance craze passed, leaving "polka dot" - inexplicably - as the sole survivor (besides, of course, the dance itself). Since then the pattern's popularity has risen and waned, but I think you'll agree it's here to stay.

Over the early 20th century polka dot prints appeared sporadically in fashion, never quite disappearing but barely clinging on. Then in 1928 Minnie Mouse bounced out of the Walt Disney animation studios, dressed in a polka dot skirt - perhaps we have her to thank for the polka dot's resurgence in popularity in the 1930s? During the 1940s and '50s, polka dots graced the gowns of celebrities from Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor, and was a staple of designer collections. The polka dot dress became a staple for Lucille Ball's wardrobe in I Love Lucy, and polka dots of varying sizes featured in 60s Mod fashions.


Sears, 1936


Sears, 1938


Katharine Hepburn in "Woman of the Year", 1942


Marilyn Monroe in a polka dot bikini, 1951


Sears, 1958


Sears, 1958


Brigitte Bardot rocks polka dot capris, 1960s

17 comments:

  1. Nice! I didn't know the origin of the name. Thank you. It's a good day when you learn something new. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. My dear Charlotte, Thank you for sharing the nice pictures and the really interesting information about polka dots. I've loved polka dots for a long time and fortunately at the moment one can find lots of clothes with polka dots on them. I own a skirt, a cardi, an umbrella, tights and some more items and love them so much and wear them very often cause they add a special girlish and happy twist to every outfit. I'd like to have the dress with the green, red and pink dots. So colourful and summery!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Isn't Katherine Hepburn amazing. She even makes big polka dots look grown-up and classy x

    Penny Dreadful Vintage

    ReplyDelete
  4. I went through a total polka dot craze a few years ago, and while most of my spotty shirts are in storage at the moment your post has made me want to get them out again! I'm wearing a fab polka dot circle skirt at the moment actually, so your post made me feel chic and smug in equal measure!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I adore polka dots! I think it's such a "happy" pattern. I love your photos and brief history on this pattern. I also think that polka dots are here to stay!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My current favorite article of clothing is a navy cardigan with white polka dots that I recently acquired. I nearly swooned when I realized the store had it in my size. In my estimation, you simply can NOT have enough navy with white dots! Polka dots are simply two-dimensional pearls. Thanks for the lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. OOh! I didn't know that, I just got a polka dot cardi from tesco, it's very sweet! X

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wouldn't it be great to be able to order from those old catalogues? I wish I could time travel!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a grand post. I didn't know any of that :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great post. I wonder what the other Polka items were like?! Great to know that I'm continuing a long established trend when I'm wearing polka dots!! xXx

    ReplyDelete
  11. Haha, I now wonder if there will be ONE item in 100 years time with Cath Kidston or cupcakes on it..? Polka dots seem so classic I'd never have guessed they came out of a fad!

    I love those spotty capris! So summery!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I really love polka dots outfits but my husband don't like them because he say that they look like REPRO clothes and not vintage ones.
    It's true that this patern was so popular that it uses for everything even in pin-up style repro dresses that I don't really like bacause they are too "cliché"!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow, I had NO idea that's how the name came about! I've just recently painted my nails red with white dots, and bought some fabric with white and red dots, with plans to make a skirt.

    ReplyDelete
  14. How interesting, I never knew that. However, I do like polka dots and they always look nice.

    Fun to meet you at Brighton, I thought I recognised you from that shop in North Street - closed soon after!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Polka dots are a beloved favoruite of both mine and my mother's (I'm sure I inherited at least a portion of my love of these darling little dots from her), and I wear them very frequently both in small doses (scarves, headbands, etc) and large (skirts, dresses). They're a youthful, timeless pattern that I could scarcely imagine my wardrobe without, and I just loved seeing all of the great yesteryear examples in this wonderful post.

    ♥ Jessica

    ReplyDelete
  16. Interesting post, Katharine Hepburn looks especially fabulous (as she always does!)

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails