Today, a lighter note…
A sales associate from the Kate Spade flagship boutique on Madison Avenue (where my dear friend Tiffany Whitford is general manager) emailed me some photos of the resort collection, now in the store.
Alas, if only to be heading to a resort where resort wear was what I needed to wear! Red, white, blue, and my favorite — polka dots.
As a marketer, I love knowing why some trends become trends, and what makes them stick. A few fun facts about the famous polka-dot…
The American magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book was the first to print the term, in an 1857 description of a “scarf of muslin, for light summer wear, surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots.”
The love affair with polka dots seems to have more officially begun in 1926, when Miss America was photographed in a polka dot swimsuit. Shortly after, in 1928, Disney introduced Minnie Mouse wearing a red polka dot dress and matching bow.
Throughout the 1930s, polka dot dresses appeared frequently in stores, and in 1940, Frank Sinatra’s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” ballad captured the height of America’s polka dot mania. That spring, the Los Angeles Times assured its readers, “You can sign your fashion life away on the polka-dotted line, and you’ll never regret it.”
Later in the decade, Christian Dior released his “New Look” collection of hourglass dresses, many styles including dots. Dior told Vogue that his collection was designed “to make women extravagantly, romantically, eyelash-battingly female” again. Hollywood followed feminine suit, and the newly-ladylike print fast became popular with actresses: Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, and Marilyn Monroe starring as some of the polka dot’s chief advocates.
In 1951, Monroe was famously photographed wearing a polka dot bikini. Nine years later, the release of Brian Hyland’s hit song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” brought polka dots back into vogue.
Lest you think this is only a woman’s trend, it’s worth noting that in 1962, Marvel Comics introduced its polka dot-clad superhero—Polka-Dot Man, who used the power of polka dots to defeat baddies.
So find it new, vintage, or wherever you can, and you’ll be sure to be on trend and right on the dot!
A special thanks to Chloe Pantanzi, whose article inspired much of this content.