The perennial power of the polka dot
In my opinion, people don’t talk about polka dots enough. Admittedly, in the list of global priorities, they are pretty far down, and I do understand. However, I got thinking about this print after doing a bit of research on upcoming trends for 2020, and also binge watching The Trial of Christine Keeler.
Polka dots are splashed all over SS20 runways and street style Instagram pics alike. Whatever your personal style is, there’s a polka dot item of some description that’s out there waiting for you.
I fell down a rabbit hole somewhat in my research, but I found out they’ve actually got a pretty interesting history. The pattern first popped up on a wide scale when Victorian Europe found itself seized by a polka dance frenzy. I’m talking mid-19th century edition of the Macarena here, so it was a pretty big deal, and everyone was buying into it. The print got its name from the dance of course, so its popularity soared as a result. Seriously, it was THE thing. It stayed a firm favourite for the rest of the 19th century, continuing into and throughout the 20th. During the 1920’s it was seen as a symbol of youth and playfulness and would be worn casually or even for sports.
Flash forward some years and, picture the scene, it’s the 1940’s. Suddenly the polka dance is back en vogue and polka dot anything is HOT. The LA times suggests readers snap up a little something in the trendy print for the upcoming spring season, and basically, everyone and their mother follows suit.
Next, the 1950s bring Dior’s scandalously extravagant “New Look” to centre stage and dotted or spotted fabrics remain a key ingredient to looking chic. So chic in fact, that the print is not done away with during the ’60s, and flourishes all the way through to the ’90s and beyond. Of course, polka dots underwent many a reincarnation throughout those turbulent decades, but they somehow remained a solid constant.
That brings me back to the core point of this article- the fascinating timelessness of our old friend, the universally cherished polka dot. We have just begun a new decade, we are at the very start of the 2020s, and yet this print is set to be one of the biggest trends of the year? Amazing. Very well executed.
It’s not going anywhere anytime soon let me tell you, so you might as well get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with it. I advise you to make like a 1940s LA times consumer and get yourself something to wear in this high endurance print for spring ASAP.
For one thing, polka dots are really packing a punch just now. Dare I say… they’ve grown sassier? I’ll be honest, it’s taken me a while, but I no longer associate them with mumsy, 50’s style Boden tea dresses from the early 2010s. No hate at all Boden, it was a strange time for everyone.
Here are some of my SS20 favourites: