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A Quick Refresher Course on Polka Dots, This Summer's Trendiest Print

Get spotted.
A Quick Refresher Course on Polka Dots, This Summer's Trendiest Print
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/itscamilleco
Get spotted.

In the spring of 1940, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “You can sign your fashion life away on the polka-dotted line, and you’ll never regret it.” That was a solid 78 years ago, but the old adage still applieswe're calling this summer the spottiest one yet. 

Jess Wilson leads the pack in the simplest, most current way to go: spots on a linen minidress, paired with an oversized straw sunhat! 

Now for some trend ed. Polka dots ruled the Spring/Summer 2018 runways, and it's time you caught on. There were retro-glam poolside looks at Jacquemus, larger-than-life '80s flavors from Carolina Herrera, and smaller, daintier specks scattered on Jason Wu's romantic frocks. Camille Co got the memo, wearing her Vleeda spots ruffled and sheer.

Okay, but why is it even called the "polka dot" anyway? Does the name have anything to do with the actual Polish dance? Yes...but also no. The two are only tenuously connected; the term refers pretty vaguely to the short, uniform bursts of energy the dance is known for. In any case, send a nod to American women's magazine Godey's Lady's Book for being the very first to publish it! A line from 1857 describes a certain "scarf of muslin, for light summer wear, surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots." Light summer wear is right—check out a beachside Laureen Uy coolly covering up (and rocking print-on-print in the process). 

We also have none other than Minnie Mouse to thank for further popularizing spots, of course. She became a household name following Walt Disney's introduction of her in 1928, and kids all over the globe grew up watching her prance around on television in a red polka-dot dress and matching ribbon perched between her ears. A true fashion icon, in our opinion. If a big ol' bow is a tad too much for your taste, try Renee de Guzman's solution and opt for a pearl-studded beret instead. Close enough, and just as chic.


Not merely sweet, the polka dot carries some suggestive, subversive connotations, too. Think then-scandalous cartoon heroine Betty Boop, that 1951 snap of Marilyn Monroe in a spotted swimsuit, and the subsequent release of Bryan Hyland's famous tune Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. We hear you humming it right now. Associated with retro sex appeal, update the shock value like Tiffany Hsu does, in something that's floor-grazing but keeps zero secrets.

Still, none of it's to say that dots don't bear a demure reputation, too. Their versatility really is impressive. Christian Dior's iconic New Look sent the fashion world into a tight-waisted, full-skirted frenzy accented by bare shoulders and a ladylike smattering of little circles. The French sure know how to take a classic and spin it quintessentially Parisian—well-loved label Rouje is no exception, as you can see. 

History class dismissed! Now get spotted, dotty darling.


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