Ready to Wear: Are polka dots acceptable for a woman over the age of seven?

The world's gone dotty. And not just because the unusually clement weather has scrambled Europe's collective brain.

At London's Hayward Gallery, among the highlights of summer's blockbuster show, Walking In My Mind, is the red and white polka dotted work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. "Visitors are able to immerse themselves in 'Dots Obsession' (2009), a large mirrored corridor filled with red spotty balloons, and walk through a dot covered landscape on one of the outside sculpture terraces," the blurb for the exhibition reads. And it doesn't stop there: "Twenty five trees along Queen's Walk are also covered in red and white polka dots for the duration of the exhibition". Marvellous.

Anyone with a Fifties-style attachment to coordinated dressing – at best, think Hitchcock's Grace Kelly with matching crocodile shoes and Kelly bag; at worst, imagine the peculiarly French penchant for matching mother and daughter outfits – will be pleased to know that polka dots are among the graphic prints of the spring/summer season. The opportunity to not only immerse themselves but get entirely lost in fine art has never been greater.

Are polka dots – and specifically the wearing of them – acceptable for a woman over the age of seven though?

Certainly, they are commonly seen printed and/or embroidered across children's clothing, toys and furniture. There is, potentially, a cartoonish quality to this particular style. Just look at Betty Boop or, for that matter, Minnie Mouse. In Japan in particular young boys and girls wear polka dots in much the same way as they might sailor suits or pinafores. Spots are the uniform of the nursery.

The ruffled garb of the flamenco dancer is also spotted, however, and there's nothing much innocent about Spain's most famous – and indeed powerfully erotic – dance.

Dior's chiffon polka dot dresses boast the best of both these worlds. As brief and coquettish as the aforementioned Ms Boop's choice of garb, they are sheer and worn over the type of entirely womanly foundation garment that Jane Russell pioneered. Dolce & Gabbana's spotted pyjamas are rooted in traditional menswear and more discreetly flirtatious for it. At House Of Holland what can only be described as an overload of polka dots was stamped onto everything from cotton tank tops to Levi's 501 jeans. This, it almost goes without saying, is very Eighties in its approach.

The best way to wear polka dots, though, might be to adapt their proud-to-be-feminine appeal to a clean, wholly adult silhouette. Michael Kors' monochrome shift dresses are as chic as they are sophisticated as are Giles Deacon's. Quite the finest polka-dotted pieces of them all, they play with black, white and shades of grey to thoroughly modern effect.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

    £50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

    Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

    Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

    Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor