Since the 50′, the polka dots have always been in fashion, with their funny, happy look and their origin mystery. From the good old days of the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny polka dot to movies and catwalks, the polka dots almost spread the female kind in two sides: the ones who love them and the ones who’ll never wear them. It is true they don’t fit any type of body or outfit, but they still make it every year in the latest trends, small, large, uni or multicolored and they can adorn anything from the proverbial bikini to an Oscar evening dress. So what is it with these polka dots that still inflame designers’ imagination and women’s taste in clothing?
1. Alternative American History
They are called polka dots and polka is an East-European dance, so it is plausible to assume that the story began with polka musicians Viola Turpeinen and Frankie Yankovic, who were wearing during their performances the infamous “polka dots”. There were the times of new beginning and America felt the need to sing and dance, as the new wave of Europeans knocked at its doors to listen to this incredibly beautiful music that made them feel like home.
2. Almost Alternative History in Europe
America saw the dots much later, after Europe was already used to them. The dots began to be used regularly in the fashion industry about the same time polka (both the music and the dance) started to conquer Prague in 1835 and seven years later to become a major hit in London. The actual term of “polka dot” was first used in 1884. If this is true that the Polka King Frankie Yankovic gave birth to the fashion, then we can all be thankful to the man.
3. The Itsy-Bitsy-Teeny-Weeny. Truth or Myth?
They say that Michael Kors was bored to death with his present times’ fashion. Plain clothes and plain bathing suits were killing his spirit, so, one day, he decided to draw marker black dots on a yellow swim-suite. A legend or not, his act certainly turned into a musical phenomena and put the polka dots on the pedestal they are even now.
4. Minnie Mouse, the First VIP to Wear Polka Dots
Walt Disney was a man known for his attention to details and insistence that everything should be done right. Designing Minnie Mouse maybe was easy, but dressing her was not, so Disney asked several fashion designers’ for their opinions and studied some clothing catalogs himself. Unsatisfied with the findings, he decided to create Minnies’ outfit by himself. An accident (or was is it an act of the divine?) apparently became a major turn in history, as Disney spilled ink on his drawings, having thus an almost Galilean epiphany: the dots on Minnie’s skirt! Thank you Mr. Disney!
5. A Travel in Time
Dots made their way fast and kept their pole position many years. No matter the size or the color, they were worn with grace and attitude and made their way in arts and cinema. Who doesn’t remember Annie Hall wearing a polka-dot man’s tie? The movie practically stated that male lines look gorgeous on women too and that a self-confident lady can wear manly suits and accessories like a queen. Also, the dots suggest a sort of innocence, of child play, turning a woman into the sweetest, most fragile creature on Earth. Amelie, one of the most beautiful stories released in the world, also gave us the taste of pure Parisian fashion, Amelie’s daring dotted outfits and angelic smile melting the hearts of all viewers in the world.
6. The Fashion
The Fifties? Almost forgotten, but some things are immortal. The Polka Dots conquered the hearts of so many designers, that every season and every year had at least one dot lost somewhere in the multitude of newly-designed outfits. In our days, the dots stopped being a fun way to prove you’re a powerful woman, not afraid of anything, but they turned from itsy-bitsy to deadly gorgeous, as Stella McCartney challenged the world in the season of 2011-2012 with a new approach to dots. From multicolor and jolly, they became black, applied on almost transparent materials or veils, creating the feeling that they were practically stamped to the skin. That was a year to remember, indeed.
7. How Many Are Too Many?
Dots do have a particular talent to make an outfit look stuffed and a non-fashion-model-type woman look a little fat. Or so is the excuse for those who won’t wear them. But polka dots are fun and they usually make anybody’s day better, so fashion designers advice us to use the dots carefully and elegantly. For instance, it’s not recommended to wear dots heads to toes. Combine a dotted top or shirt with a uni pair of trousers or don’t mix the dots with other types of embroidery. For more chubby women, small dots are the best option, while for any woman, when wearing polkas, her accessories should be as simple as possible.
8. Dots Are The New Black
Or the new stripe-fashion, as The Guardian called them. Nowadays, they can be found not only on clothes, but on scarves, bags and shoes. Keeping in mind that too many are too many and too small may turn an outfit to look like a bouillabaisse, grand designers as Mark Jacobs or Dolce & Gabbana not only used the polka dots in a variety of designs, but also pushed things a little further, keeping the concept but changing the form. Last year’s catwalks witnessed the transformation of the polka dots into little stars, ovals or musical notes. Not the same thing, but the principle remains: polka dots are cool no matter what their shape is.
9. The Fame, The Fortune
As we mentioned before, the dots had a deep impact on women all over the world and on celebrities too. Didn’t matter if it was the Fashion Week in Milan or an award ceremony, stars like Sharon Stone, Reese Whitherspoon or Kristin Davis made a sensation among guests and press representatives in their times. But one of the most famous and powerful polka dots dress in contemporaneity was Michelle Obama’s 35 dollars dress which stated again, if it was necessary, that dots are awesome and you don’t have to be a supermodel to wear them. The First Lady looked spectacular and she proved once again that taste doesn’t lean on fortune.
10. From Fashion to Fiction
What, did you think that Minnie Mouse is the only fictional character wearing polka dots? We also have Betty Boop, Tom (as apposed to Jerry) who had an episode dedicated to him – namely “Polka Dots – Puss”, Mr. Polka-Dot, a villain in the Batman comics. Oh. And do you know who was often spotted wearing a polka-dot bow tie? Winston Churchill himself. Not a fictional character, but a character nonetheless. Also, if you like dots, marbles, bubbles, and all other circle-shaped things, nowadays you can always enjoy free online games with bubbles and such.