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A History of Polka Dots

The fashion forecast is reporting a flurry of polka dots! Polka dots usually pop up most prominently on children’s items, but now they’re arriving from all directions, covering everything from <a title="Lamp Shades" href="http://www.atgstores.com/lamp-shades_2416.html" target="_blank">lamp shades</a> and <a title="Dog Leashes" href="http://www.atgstores.com/type-of-dog-collars-and-leashes-dog-collars-leashes_11212_oa0273639.html" target="_blank">dog leashes</a> to <a title="Luggage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/bags-luggage_2713.html" target="_blank">luggage</a> and <a title="Sheets" href="http://www.atgstores.com/sheets_12772.html" target="_blank">linens</a>. The list goes on and on … kind of like Weird Al's “Polkattack!” In medieval times, dots were neither admired nor amusing. Considering the lack of technology to evenly place dots in a consistent pattern, random spots were more likely to be taken as the onset of a serious disease. By the mid-1800s, however, they were being printed with a roller and causing far fewer outbreak rumors. Around the same time, polka music (and the accompanying dance) spread throughout Europe and then on to America, where it was credited for inspiring the pattern’s name. With textile machinery advancements around the turn of the 20th century, polka dots eventually became easier to print on fabric and thus a popular pattern was born. Polka dots have popped up all over during the past century. Here’s a look at their spotted history: <strong>1920s:</strong> Walt Disney draws Minnie Mouse into a signature red and white polka-dotted dress that eventually becomes internationally distinguished and adored. <strong>1930s:</strong> Polka dots peak in everyday fashion and make their way to the White House when first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, embraces the trend. <strong>1940s:</strong>  Frank Sinatra is first spotted with his breakthrough song, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” a good 20 years before Brian Hyland's billboard hit, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” <strong>1950s:</strong> Polka dots are <em>also</em> a girl's best friend when they take center stage on Marilyn Monroe’s flirty frocks, while fashion icons Lucille Ball and Audrey Hepburn also play a role in sporting wholesome spotted skirts. <strong>1960s:</strong> Polka dots depart their dainty ways, mod styles make them big and bold, and DC Comics gets madly dotty with its introduction of the Batman antagonist, Polka Dot Man. <strong>1970s:</strong> The Tour de France begins the tradition of decorating the “King of the Mountains” – the fastest uphill rider – in a red polka-dot jersey. <strong>1980s:</strong> Shoulder pads, ruffles for days, bad hair and worse makeup are all the rage. Sadly, polka dots are also subjected to this unruly fashion beast as the likes of Madonna, Prince and Dolly Parton rock the dots across pop culture genres. <strong>1990s:</strong> In “Pretty Woman,” Julia Roberts transforms from trashy to classy when she dons a sweet brown dress with white polka dots, which prompts the dotted color combo to trend for quite a while. <strong>2000s:</strong> An <em>Infinity Net</em> painting by Japanese conceptual artist Yayoi Kusami, who is known for her polka-dot obsession and avant-garde installations, sells for $5.1 million at Christie’s and sets a record for female artists at the time. <strong>Present:</strong> The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge introduce the newest heir to the thrown of England. Kate pays tribute to the late Princess Diana when she steps out in a baby-blue dress with white polka dots; similar to a polka-dotted dress Diana had worn when she first presented baby William. Given its history, <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> believes the loveable polka dot never really goes out of style – it just loses the spotlight periodically before circling back around!
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