polka dot clothing

Polka Dot Clothing

80's Tops Jan 03, 2022

Polka dot clothing was such a popular fashion trend in the 1980s due to the style’s association with childhood, innocence and playfulness.

This era saw a shift away from the baby-doll dresses of the 1960s towards something more childlike, yet sophisticated, which was reflected in many trends of the 80s such as toy jewelry and oversized sunglasses.

Though Polka dot pants did exist, typically during the 1980s if you rocked any polka dot clothing it was usually some sort of blouse or dress for the ladies, and a button up shirt for the men.

Polka dot clothing really became an 80s fashion as more and more celebrities started adding it to their wardrobes. Some well known celebs known to wear polka dot clothing during that era included Madonna, Princess Diana, and Molly Ringwald just to name a few.

Princess Diana Rocking Polka Dots In The 1980s
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80s Polka Dot Fashion

So why was polka dot fashion so popular during the 1980s? Well to be honest there were quite a few reasons, and people wore polka dots for many different reasons.

Regardless the following are some of the most common reasons why polka dot clothing was such a popular fashion trend in the 1980s:

1. Childhood Association

This era saw the popularization of designer brands like Strawberry Shortcake and Disney which were associated with childlike innocence. Mickey Mouse, Barbie and other ‘kiddie’ themed designs were also very popular at this time. And polka dots matched that innocence well.

2. Playfulness

The 1980s had an upbeat, dynamic, energetic feeling to it, so mostly gaudy bright colors were used in designs which were meant to add instant buoyancy and cheerfulness.

Polka dots were seen as fun and playful, and generally you were happy when you wore them.

3. Gaudy Colors

Gaudy bright colors such as hot pink, canary yellow and shocking blue were used in polka dot outfits because they were the most attention-getting colors. This was a time when clothes with loud patterns were very popular.

It was not uncommon for polka dot fashion at the time to be paired with bright neon clothing which was all the rage during the 1980s.

4. Bold Patterns

As previously mentioned, bold patterned clothing was very popular in the 1980s, and polka dot prints were popular since they were an eye-grabbing design. They were a classic look, yet fun at the same time!

If you wanted to get the attention of those around you, nothing did the trick like a bright colored polka dot dress!

5. Pop Culture

The 1980s was the period when mass media fully took over fashion trends. Fashion magazines, TV shows and music videos all played a part in dictating what the latest styles were so designers began to look for inspiration from pop culture.

The polka dot trend was very much dictated by pop culture in this era, especially by the British band The Beat which used lots of polka dots and other kitschy patterns in their music videos.

Furthermore polka dot clothing was a popular fashion trend in the 1980s because many celebrities at that time adopted this trend in their scrutinized wardrobes. Madonna, Phoebe Cates, and others all sported polka dots which made it a cool thing to wear.


6. Rejection Of 70s Style

In a way, polka dot clothing was also influenced by the lack of popularity of 70s styles such as shaggy hair and bellbottom jeans in the 80s. Dressing up like you came from the ’70s did not look cool anymore, and polka dots was a fresh new way to leave the hippie era in the past.

Polka dots were very much en vogue right after the disco era, and no one really wanted to wear clothes that reminded them of disco, and polka dots were a nice way to accomplish that.

As mentioned earlier, there was a shift towards something more childlike yet sophisticated in 80s fashion, which is ironic because the decade itself had a very bold, daring and dynamic feel to it.

This meant that polka dots were used not only by children, but even women in their 20s and 30s who wanted to look young and playful.

The above were just some of the reasons why polka dot clothing was such a popular fashion trend in the 1980s. The popularity of the fashion had a lot to do with pop culture, and it is why this trend continues to be associated with one of the best 80s fashion trends that we remember from the glorious decade.

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