Polka Queen or The Joys of a Library Card


I love this top from The Secret Store for this month’s Collabor88 so much. She produced several optiongs, but only one polka dot. Its bright, happy print made me go full polka and I dug out this skirt from Maitreya to wear with it.

Have you ever wondered why a print with dots all over it is called polka dot instead of simply dotted print? Do the textile workers dance while producing the cloth? Allemande left and a dosey doe? I am the type of person who wonders these things, wanting not just to know what something is called, but why? The best source for answers to these kinds of questions is the Oxford English Dictionary to which an individual like me could subscribe for $295/year. On my budget, that is not going to happen.

Enter the public library card. Public libraries in general have gone digital in a big way and allow cardholders to log in and access their digital subscriptions. My library subscribes to the OED (though for a lot more than $295) and all its cardholders can piggy-back their access to use it as freely as if they have their own subscription. They do this with literally hundreds of research and reference sources — just about every major research service you can think of. All for free, all available from your home computer thanks to the wonders of your library card. So let’s find out why it’s called polka dot instead of dotted.


Polka dots create a retro vibe, so I dug out these old PinUp shoes from N-Core. Don’t worry, they are merely old, not antique, so they do have alphas.

So what did I learn about polka dots. Well, it turns out that if Henry VII had worn a polka-dotted tunic, he would not have called it that. The term developed in the early 1800’s when the Polka because the latest dance craze. The word Polka refers to a Polish woman and the dance may have been given the name in solidarity with the Polish Uprising of 1830. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to wrap my head around the Polka being the dougie of the 1830’s but that’s what happened. A letter written in 1837 described a demonstration of the polka in New Orleans. ” It was announced that a Mr. Karponky & his scholars would dance the grand Polka.” So Mr. Karpnsky was the Psi of his time. The dance became a huge hit.



So, they didn’t immediately begin calling dotted fabric polka-dotted. About 20 years later, the first reference to the fabric was published in Godey’s Lady’s Book, where they described a scarf, “of muslin, for light summer wear..surrounded by a scalloped edge, embroidered in rows of round polka dots.” Godey’s was the most popular women’s magazine before the Civil War and tremendously influential in spreading developments in fashion with it monthly colored fashion-plate and pattern. It was a well-rounded magazine and one of the early publishers of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories. In 1881, Harper’s Magazine (not Harper’s Bazaar) advised people who want to be taken seriously to avoid polka dots, writing “The economist must, however, avoid all striking fashions in stuffs—the ‘polka dot’, large plaids, or any bizarre fashion.” That advice probably still holds true today – for economists.


PXL Creations has this gorgeous new skin called Jade. I wore the freckled version in honor of my polka dots. The hair is from Tram and can only be found at HAIR FAIR! Those earrings are ancient. I bought them in 2007, so old that to change the texture, I need to type /4 ColorName. But until someone makes something like them that’s newer, I am not throwing them out.


Anyway, the polka dance took western Europe and the United States by storm and all sorts of things got named polka this and polka that including a polka hat, polka gauze and even the loops holding up curtains were called polka bands. Those other uses faded away, but polka dot stuck and that it why this is a polka dot blouse.

Photography by Cajsa Lilliehook
for It’s Only Fashion
Store info at Blogging Second Life
Poses: Adorkable
Skin: [PXL] JADE NAT Cherry Lips MEB C2 (FR)
Makeup Tattoos: [PXL] JADE NAT Eyebrows: Red (tattoo)
[PXL] JADE NAT Stylish Eyes (tattoo)
Eyes: Insufferable Dastard
Lashes: Lelutka
Mani/Pedi: SLink Mesh Hands with Flair Nail Appliers
Hair: tram C606 hair / maroon @ Hair Fair
Clothing: The Secret Store – Elsa Ruffle Shirt – Green Polka – @ Collabor88
Maitreya Mesh Anais Skirt * M Polka-Black
Shoes: N-core PIN UP Platform XtremeHeel II
Jewelry: *KC* SILVER Bamboomerangs! *POLKA DOT*

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One thought on “Polka Queen or The Joys of a Library Card

  1. Hyacinth Cortes

    Sweet look – I love the polka dots! But I’m most impressed by the great shout-out to libraries. Yes indeed, you can find out most of the answers to your fashion history questions at your local library! Nice post.

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