polka dots and the plague.

Once upon a time… polka dots were taboo. Without machines, polka dots were impossible to place evenly and uneven patterns reminded people of diseases such as leprosy, small pox and the plaque. It also reminded people of spotting caused from miscarriages, or blood stains on handkerchiefs from TB. Polka dots were definitely not considered a pattern that made people happy.

(If you don’t wanna read my babble… skip to the bottom to find out where you can get this look!)


The English term, polka dot, came from ‘polka’ music and the ‘polka’ dance that was extremely popular throughout Europe between the 1840’s and the 1860’s. The liveliness of the dance was seen as a reflection on the lively pattern. 


During the Second World War, polka music grew in popularity throughout America. ‘Polka’ was hugely popular, and resulted in marketing strategies aimed at targeting the polka fans. There was polka pudding, polka sauce, polka hats, polka shoes, polka curtains and so the list went on. Eventually, a magazine called ‘Godey’s Lady Book’ dubbed the dotted pattern, polka dots.

When polka dots were first appearing on clothing it was predominantly on mens bowties and ties. In 1926, Miss America was photographed wearing a polka dot bikini which made the patterns popularity grow – but the true love affair with polka dots only really started to take off when a mouse named Minnie became world famous. Throughout the 1930’s, polka dots were smothering stores and the pattern was seen on anything you could imagine.


In 1951, Marilyn Monroe was famously photographed wearing a polka dot bikini. A couple years later, and the release of Brian Hyland’s hit song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” brought polka dots straight back into fashion. Christian Dior was obsessed! He used polka dots throughout his “New Look” collection to bring femininity out and enhance the hour glass shape of the woman.


I love this playful polka dot skirt! I got it at a second hand sale called “Vintage for Love.” They had sooooo much clothing with all of the money going towards charities. I wish it wasn’t only every 3 years…


Let me know what you think! xx

Top: Woolworths    |    Skirt: Edgars    |    Bandana: Pick ‘n Pay    |    Shoes: Pep Stores    |    Socks: Woolworths

Lipstick: Maliboo Lip Kit (Kylie Cosmetics)

Glasses: Vintage – First frames I ever got!

Photographer: Casey Rautenbach

9 thoughts on “polka dots and the plague.

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