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Still dotty for polka dots!
Polka dots never seem to go out of fashion. Fun, friendly and with a retro feel, they’re featured on clothes, furnishings and kitchenware. The design is so ubiquitous perhaps we don’t consider where it came from in the first place.
Mediaeval back luck
It’s not always been considered a fun design, however. In Mediaeval Europe, wearing dotted material was considered taboo. The technology didn’t exist to lay out regular dots in a pattern so what dotted designs did exist were irregular and uneven. They reminded people of diseases like smallpox and the Bubonic plague!
19th Century Polka Dots
That all changed by the 19th century when dotted fabrics became fashionable. They weren’t initially called polka dots back then, however. Raised dots on fabrics like tulle were known as Dotted-Swiss. In Spain, dots were known as ‘little moons’. By the middle of the century a new Czech dance craze was sweeping the continent. Every fashionable person was dancing the polka.
It’s unclear why the design became associated with the dance. One theory is that the pattern is light and cheerful like the dance itself. Entrepreneurs took advantage of the craze to manufacture any number of polka related products. There were polka jackets and polka hats but the only thing that has lived on from that period is the polka dot design.
The term polka dots to refer to a fabric design first appeared in 1857 in an American periodical for women.
The polka dance had a resurgence in the 1940s. Frank Sinatra released a song called ‘Polka Dots & Moonbeams’, as fashion magazines went wild for the polka dot design. When Christian Dior launched his New Look collection on the catwalks in 1947 it heavily featured the polka dot design. It was now associated with style, high fashion and modernity.
Polka dots had another flurry of popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s. Brian Hyland released his classic summer song, ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’. In 1961 Disney gave Minnie Mouse a polka dot makeover and there was even a Batman villain called ‘Polka Dot Man’. It was round about this time that they started featuring in interior design.
Polka dots today
Polka dots have never really gone out of fashion since. Used by designers for clothes and interiors it’s a fun timeless design that people love. During the Tour De France the leading cyclist in the mountain sections wears a polka dot jersey.
It’s undergone a real revival over the past decade or so as retro and vintage clothes and interiors have become increasingly popular. Whether it’s teapots or dresses the humble polka dot shows that the best designs are often the simplest.
Polka dot fabric oilcloth is one of the most popular designs. It manages to be both retro and contemporary and fits with a variety of interiors. If you’re going for a vintage mid-20th century interior for your house, it’s an absolute must. If you want something timeless and versatile, it’s a great choice.
Looking for polka dot oilcloths for your home and garden entertaining? See our range of Spotty and Dotty Oilcloths here
Contact us today to find out more about our range.