Here at British Retro we love our patterned fabrics. Funny, arty, cute, kitsch – every dress will make you look twice… are those zombies on that dress? But in amongst this riot of b-movie madness and kitsch splendour you will be forgiven for overlooking a classic pattern that crops up often on our designs – the polka dot!
What do we think when we see the cheeky polka dot? Minnie Mouse in her red and white spots? Spanish flamenco dancers? The itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini? The polka dot definitely had a moment in the 50s, Marilyn wore them, Elizabeth Taylor wore them, Dior used the pattern in his New Look dresses, it cropped up everywhere. Frank Sinatra even sang about “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
There is something decidedly childlike in the design, something flirty, young and carefree, although you will also see the pattern crop up on men’s ties and pocket squares. The pattern works best when strongly contrasting colours are used together to create a pulsing rhythm that can play tricks with the eye, an optical illusion exploited by Bridget Riley in her op art canvasses from the mid-sixties and, more recently, the spot paintings by Damien Hirst. Imagine for a moment the visual impact of our Rhondas Revenge pencil dress in classic black and white polka dot. That classic 50s figure-hugging style, off-the-shoulder Bardot neckline with high quality stretch cotton for the clingiest support and fit, you simply can’t drag your eyes away from that dizzying array of loveliness.
Our Go West 50s style full circle dress a very sophisticated marriage of French Navy and ivory polka dots in a classic shirt dress style. If Grace Kelly were sitting beside me she’d be snapping this beauty up! And Audrey Hepburn would recommend she buy a vintage style petticoat in matching ivory, too (I’m absolutely certain that this conversation would take place). And of course it is very sound advice, Audrey would know that the addition of a frothy 50s petticoat would give that sleek flared gown a vintage pinup twist in the time it took to say “a fifty dollar bill for the powder room, pur-lease.”