Things get even more interesting when two dots become four, four become eight, eight become sixteen and sixteen become thirty two. That’s when dots become polka dots and a lone symbol turns into a sea of spots. The term Polka goes way back to the mid 19th century. It started life as a simple-yet-lively spin around the floor and became a dance craze that swept the world in a whirl. It was such a sensation that the word (which meant ‘Polish woman’ in Bohemian) became a buzz word. Spots hit the limelight and made it into the spotlight.
A fashionable sweet spot
The 20th century saw the beginning of polka dot’s lasting role in fashion history. Coco Chanel went dotty about dots in the 1920s, while America’s love affair with the polka dot began when Miss America was photographed in a polka dot swimsuit. In the 1930s the silhouette of the time was soft-&-flowing with a flurry of chiffon-&-silk, dotted with the neatness of regimented spots. Polka dots then were usually small-&-dainty, aspirin or pindot size on midnight black, nautical navy or red-hot-red. Mickey Mouse’s muse, Minnie dressed in a polka dot rah-rah skirt with matching bow, while the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt often appeared in polka dotted dresses.
A spot of glamour
The ladylike print graced the gowns of Hollywood glamour queens such as Monroe-&-Taylor, while Ms Hepburn graced the screen in pink-polkas, satin coat & tiara in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. During the same time period the polka dot accrued a highbrow style currency when Christian Dior began to release his notable ‘new look’ hourglass dresses emblazoned with spotted prints. Mary Quant had a fashion field day in the swinging 60s. She went completely dotty, printing polka dots on mini-dresses-tights-shoes-&-gloves and daring to mix dots with stripes in eye-popping colour combinations.
Polka dots are a perfect example of how fashion ebbs-&-flows by repeating itself. Princess Dianna chose polka dots when she introduced Prince William to the Kingdom. The Dutchess of Cambridge followed in her footsteps when she introduced her son to the world in trademark glossy style, wearing corn-flower-blue Jenny Packam polkas. In the 1980s fashion went on a retro rampage and revived many looks from the 1950s. Among the recycled revivals were polka dots in pink-&-black, red-&-black or white-&-black. Dame Vivienne Westwood made her mark by recycling the 19th century crinoline and creating a Mini Crini with Minnie Mouse inspired polka dots peppered with Uncle Sam’s stars-&-stripes, worn with the famous ‘Rocking Horse’ platform shoes.
Frank Sinatra’s ballad ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams‘ captured the height of America’s polka dot mania, while the popularity of the polka dot amongst women could well lie in its folk-&-feminine beginnings. Quite a far cry from from the more male-&-masculine dominated scenario of micro print textiles used in tailoring. It seems the fairer sex embraced the polka dot with open arms as a punctuation for their time in the limelight. The era where polka dots became established as a viable printed fabric, were contemporaneous with a time when women began to gain a much yearned for independence. One one level, polka dots suggest simplicity-&-fun, childhood-&-girlishness. On another note the popularity of the polka dot print may also lay in its intrinsic sensual, playful and ultimately feminine connotations. Which is why it’s the perfect symbol for the Sister Snog brand.
Over-saturation of the market means businesses-&-brands must work even harder to stand out in order to avoid getting lost in the shuffle. A meaningful alphabet of design elements makes brands visually appealing and helps create a distinctive look. Polka dots are one element of Sister Snog’s visual brand language. What elements make up your visual alphabet and how do you incorporate them to create visual interest-&-impact to help tell your business’s story and paint a picture of your brand?
This blog is dedicated to Laura Milligan – Creative Director of Laura Felicity Design – the home of of skilled craftsmanship where you’ll find the highest quality products with a clear design aesthetic, ranging from stunning hand printed wallpapers and romantic, eye-catching interior accessories. Laura finds her inspiration in the beauty and delicacy of patterns in a range of different areas, from the softness of nature to the clean lines of geometry. This inspiration follows through in her work, creating unique designs that unite patterns and layers in graceful combinations. Laura’s aim is always to design a piece that has an atmosphere of freshness and depth, inviting people into the pattern. Dotty Bird is her signature design.