It is not exactly sure where polka dots first originated from, but it is believed that it had something to do with the famous polka dance that emerged in 1830’s Eastern Bohemia (now part of Czechoslovakia). This rapidly shifting dance made up of quick stepping footwork is somewhat similar to the pattern of polka dots.
The popularity of the dance soon spread all over the world, and polka dots came along for the ride, connecting music with fashion in a way never seen before. And thankfully, this trickled down trend is now out in the open for us to experiment with.
Regarded for decades as a fun party print, and adorned throughout the years by popular culture’s most memorable icons such as Minnie Mouse and Marilyn Monroe, polka dots have a lot of dynamic history attached to them.
But at the Spring 2010 shows, the polka dots sashaying down the runways were infused with even more personality than ever before, moving away from the classic, perfectly centered placement of dots they have been known for in the past.
Polka dots were juxtaposed against florals and eclectic, nonsensical prints at Marc by Marc Jacobs, bringing to life a wilder and wackier vision of this already quirky pattern. Jacobs’ obsession with youth came across in loud colors and exaggerated shapes that lent a cartoonish quality to the pattern that used to be a symbol of delicate femininity in the 1960’s.
At Reem Acra, a model wore a full dotted skirt on which the polka dots were oversized and closely gathered together in rows of neat lines.
The look was still feminine and flirty, but the proportion play made it more extreme and fashion-forward.
Marni went the opposite route with a speckling of minimized dots of subtly different sizes against light pastel tones. The resulting effect was something more whimsical and ethereal, bringing to the surface yet another dimension of polka dots: the quiet and subtle side.
At Tory Burch, polka dots were recreated using the skillful art of crocheting.
Dots don’t just have to be a print on cloth – why not use the texture and depth created by intricate handiwork to give the illusion that there is a tangible formation of the actual shape? It makes for an interesting and fresh way to wear dots that still stays true to the original template, but makes the pattern literally jump out at you from afar.
The season’s new ways to wear dots can be either outrageously amplified or expressively introverted. And who says you cannot mix the two in one entire look?
Take a vibrant blouse covered in large polka dotes and pair it with a soft and feminine skirt to bring it back down to earth. When mixing and matching contrasting ideas, it is always important to keep leverage with a balancing piece.
But whichever way you decide to wear this beloved print, make sure you think outside the box. Polka dots can have a whole new life when you play around with proportion, pump them up with unexpected colors, and place them against interesting backgrounds.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.