What do Minnie Mouse, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Julia Roberts, and Rosie the Riveter have in common? Simply put…they are all linked to the iconic polka dot.
Ageless Style’s last post explored the pineapple’s renaissance in fashion. This post looks at the origins of another popular graphic pattern…the polka dot. The words, polka and dot, are a strange combination describing the graphic. The term meshed two popular trends of the mid-1800’s: the polka dance and dotty spots. The dots were never tied to the polka dance itself. The word, polka, translates to “Polish woman” in Polish — in Czech, it translates to “little woman or girl.” Consequently, polka dots are perceived as very feminine.
America was introduced to the pattern in the early 1900’s. In 1928 Walt Disney created Minnie Mouse and dressed her in a red dress with white polka dots.
America’s little darling, Shirley Temple, danced in a polka-dotted dress for her 1934 movie, Stand Up and Cheer. Frank Sinatra sang about polka dots in his 1940 recording, Polka Dots and Moonbeams. During World War II, Rosie the Riveter was portrayed wearing a red polka dot headband.
Who does not recognize Brian Hyland’s 1959 song about a modest girl at the beach and her revealing yellow bathing suit? It was an “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini.”
I remember watching the I Love Lucy show starring Lucille Ball. She was frequently attired in polka dot dresses. Marilyn Monroe, a feminine icon, was photographed wearing the pattern as well. In the 1960 film, Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts wore a brown polka dot dress while playing an undercover sex worker.
The pattern’s recent revival makes sense as the vintage looks of the 1950s and 1960s are very popular. Polka dots are fun to wear on occasions where you want to communicate a playful femininity.
After all, it is so easy to smile when wearing your polka dots.
Steph and I pay tribute to the polka dot in this recent fashion shoot. We paired opposing black and white polka dot print dresses. They were a lot of fun to wear.
SHOP THE LOOK
Here are similar dresses available today.
Ralph Lauren at Bloomingdales
Milly at Nordstrom
Jessica Howard at Macy’s
As always, our goal at Ageless Style is to entertain and educate our readers. We aren’t just a pair of knockouts (just kidding, LOL).
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Till next time,
Paula and Steph