The spot or polka dot pattern has remained in popular culture since its arrival (believed to be on swimsuit of Miss America in 1926). Two years later Walt Disney had Minnie Mouse in a spotty dress, then it spread to Hollywood actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor and Maryline Monroe and it’s still as popular today.
The word polka translates from Polish as 'Polish woman' and in Czech it means "little woman or girl" reinforcing it's place as an inherently feminine pattern in it’s beginning. In the mid nineteenth century Europe coined the term 'polkamania', describing the polka dance craze that swept the continent at the time. There only seems to be a tenuous link between the dance and spot but some believe the pattern reflects the short bursts of energy that the dance is based on.
Today, this evenly spaced polka dot is linked with retro and vintage design whereas the modern reincarnation has broken this uniform mould. Ceramic pattern designer Emma Bridgewater says of her irregular polka dot "probably our most recognisable pattern, the irresistibly cheerful Polka Dot makes everyone smile!”. She estimates that since this pattern was launched in 2002, over two million pieces of polka dot pottery have been sold. The unfussy placement of these spots results in a more relaxed pattern suitable for any age or gender.
Back to fabric, and more men are wearing spots than before. Just last week on the BBC's The Great interior design Challenge it's presenter, Tom Dyckoff, was wearing a t-shirt in a random spot pattern with an occasional triangle. Through this subtle addition of a contrast geometric shape it creates a contemporary pattern that works really well on men.
It’s fascinating to see how patterns evolve and break the rules whilst retaining the vital element to still make it recognisable. I wonder what the spots next reincarnation will be?