Friday, January 16, 2015

Feature Friday: Polka Dot Madness

Though the word "polka dot" was created in the mid 1800's, it is believed that the print became popular around 1926, when Miss America was photographed in a polka dot swimsuit and men began wearing polka-dotted bow ties. Soon after, Disney introduced Minnie Mouse wearing a red polka dot dress and matching bow.

By the 1930's, polka dots were seen on many garments in stores with bows and ribbons. And by 1940, it even made it's way into a song by Frank Sinatra called, "Polka Dots and Moon Beams" because of it's rising popularity.

The Los Angeles Times was quoted as saying, "You can sign your fashion life away on the polka-dotted line and you'll never regret it."

The craze continued on into the 1950's with Marilyn Monroe sporting a polka dot bikini as well as the famous Brian Hyland song, "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." It seems like from day one, polka dots had fame on it's side...

So where did the words, "polka" and "dot" come from?

In the mid-19th century, Polka dots had many other names, such as "Dotted Swiss," which referred to raised dots an transparent tulle. During the this time, a dance called "Polka" was also becoming a craze and somehow, the two got linked. However, the only thing they share in common is the time they became popular.

The word "polka" itself means "little woman or girl" which could be a reason "polka" came into play since polka dots were seen as widely feminine. However, as the print continued to gain popularity, men wore it more as well. Even comic books, like Marvel's 1962 "Polka Dot Man" were sporting the print.

"Dot" on the other hand, is derived from the Old English word, "dott," meaning "speck."

The first magazine to print the term was Godey's Lady's Book in an 1857 description of a garment. “A scarf of muslin, for light summer wear, surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots.”

Do you wear polka dots?


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