The polka dot revival



Polka dots: we wear them on our knickers, on our kitchen crockery and with those below the knee skirts that billow out behind us when we cycle. With colours polka dots are cute, big polka dots make a statement and small polka dots add detail to sophistication.

But polka dots do seem to be predominantly summery. If someone noted, “she was wearing polka dots” I am more likely to envisage someone eating an ice cream than a snow scene and a trench coat. There is nothing wrong with that stereotype, after all the word “polka” comes from a polish type of dance and they became popular in the 1950’s when colours and happy housewives were all the range.

The good news is that this year polka dots can still appear in our wardrobes right through winter. Marc Jacobs unleashed his autumn/winter 2011 collection this week at New York Fashion week covered in those dots we love so much. Sure, there was lace and latex too but it was the polka dots that really captured the audience’s attention. And they literally got into everything, not just printed predictably on dresses or skirts but on hats and coats too.

Jacobs has not returned to a fashion favourite without adding to it though. The vision behind the collection was, “discipline, severity and fetish”, not things you would ordinarily associate with our old polka dot friend. But over duller colours, navy, burgundy and just plain white the polka dot gives the outfits command, order, fashion assertion. This fashion obsession has indeed been heightened to a more grown up look giving it the new status of “fetish”.

What does this mean for our affectionate cuddly polka dot? Are we to wave goodbye to all our cute items in order to stock up on “discipline”? I, for one, will not be doing that. We should be grateful that Jacobs has sewn polka dots into our winter wardrobes, giving us the freedom to unite muted tones of colour with the usually summery detail. Come October we will have to hang up our chirpy polka dots and replace them with their more severe counterpart. But as soon as I smell spring in 2012 I will be back outside in my plimsolls and red polka dots, loving the 1950’s over and over again.

Click here for How to wear… Polka dots.

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