It’s been so long since I last posted and I’m so sorry – with both my dissertations and a hefty 5000 word essay due in the next month, I can mostly be found in a pair of PJs with sudocrem on my face and my laptop on my knee… not exactly fashionista lol.
BUT – today it was unusually sunny AND WARM in England. I decided to give studying a break, put on a nice outfit and enjoy the weather. I got these amaaaazing wide leg polka dot pants in the charity shop the other day and was desperate to wear them! I love polka dots and think they really set off this outfit. They’re from Wallis but there’s a similar pair from Miss Pap here! AND they’re in the sale!!
Anyway, it got me thinking – polka dots have been in and out of style for so long… where did it all begin? I found a really cool website on the history of polka dots and it was so interesting. Apparently, our love of polka dots began after 1928, when Disney introduced us to Minnie Mouse in a red polka dot dress. In 1940, the Los Angeles Times wrote “you can sign your fashion life away on the polka-dotted line, and you’ll never regret it.” What is it about this classic piece that we love so much?
During WWII, the polka dot was encouraged in fashion as it was seen as playful and feminine. As so many women worked during the war, there was a fear that they had been defeminised due to their masculine roles. In fact, the Rosie the Riveter or “We Can Do It!” poster girl shows this very contrast, as she is wearing a polka dot headband! The print was adopted by plenty of Hollywood’s stars in the following decade – most famously by Marilyn Monroe in a polka dot bikini in 1951. It became a defining feature of 50s style and the ‘rockabilly’ trend.
For history geeks like me, the polka dot represents some kind of nostalgia for the past. It makes you feel connected to a time that you otherwise can’t really be associated with. While it may not be ideal that the polka dot was introduced to reaffirm gender boundaries and femininity, I think it’s no reason to rule it out. The mix and match of old and new is one of my favourite things about fashion – for instance, these modern wide leg pants combined with the retro polka dot print! I love that we can ‘bring back’ old styles in a unique way and breathe new life into them.
I’ve really loved looking into the history of polka dots and I’m thinking of making a regular feature of vintage styles we have ‘brought back’ again and again in different ways – what do you think? Let me know in the comments if you’d enjoy this or any suggestions you might have!
Speak to you soon,