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What are Polka Dots?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Polka dots are a pattern, either regular or random, of circles, or dots, that may be different sizes or all uniform in size. Polka dot patterns come in a wide variety of color combinations that are limited only by the imagination. Polka dots are not closely related to polka music, but are thought to be named after the music as they were both very much a part of British culture in the late 1900s.

Polka dots are still found today on gift wrap, clothing, footwear and home decor items. Larger, colorful polka dots are often considered whimsical and fun and may be associated with children's decor, Easter egg decorations and clown costumes. Smaller polka dots are often considered dressier and are still found on items such as men's ties, decor fabric for the home and some women's dresses.

Marilyn Monroe wore polka dots on some of her dresses and Disney's Minnie Mouse character wears polka dots on her clothing. Bob Dylan is known for wearing black and white polka dots on his shirts throughout several decades. Gwen Stefani, Paris Hilton, Carmen Electra and Sarah Jessica Parker have all been photographed wearing stylish polka dots. Dresses, shirts, shoes, handbags and rain boots are just some of the items you can buy that feature polka dots.

Probably the most famous song about polka dots is 1960's "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." The song was performed by Brian Hyland and written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss. It was a number one song in the United States in 1960.

The plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya, is known as the polka dot plant. It is a small green plant with pink spots that look like polka dots. The plant is also available with white or with red polka dot-like spots. It is often used for borders around flower beds or for container gardens to add color and pattern.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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