Backstage at the Goldstein: Polka Dots

Readers,

Polka dot sophistication.

Polka dot sophistication. (photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

Image consultant Brenda Kinsel asked a question on her Facebook page May 24 that caught my eye:

I’m reading the book Wear This Now. In their list of ten things to toss now, #2 is “Anything with polka dots. Even if they come back in season briefly, they never last, and more often than not, you end up looking like a five-year-old in them.”

Agree or disagree? Or strongly disagree?

Lots of comments followed, many strongly favoring polka dots.

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

Me? I love polka dots. But there’s much more to polka dots than the dots. How about

  • the size of the dots and the spacing between them
  • the colors of the dots and of the background
  • the amount of color contrast
  • the texture and drape of the fabric
  • the combination of dots with other patterned or plain fabrics
  • the silhouettes of the garments

    (photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

    (photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

Pondering the many facets of using polka dots, what did I find in the Goldstein Museum of Design office on my latest volunteer work assignment but a rack of polka-dotted garments, perhaps pulled for student research.

Some of the garments read awfully busy and trendy to my eye. But one polka-dotted dress on the rack stood out from all the rest in its timelessness and sophistication.

Here’s the description of item number 1997.023.056a:

Short Dress and Bubble Capelet In Sheer Pink Fabric Printed With Large Forest Green Polka Dots Over Pink Linen. Dress Is Sleeveless and Has Princess Seaming In The Bodice and A Gathered Knee-Length Skirt. Back Has Two Emerald Green Velvet Bows Placed At The Waistline and Neck Snap Closures. Bodice Has Open Keyhole Back.

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

This dress by Jane Derby is dated between 1958 and 1962.

Polka dots: fresh and forever.

Backstage at the Goldstein: Sleeveless Dress, 1920s

Readers,

(Photo: Goldstein Museum of Design.)

(Photo: Goldstein Museum of Design.)

This morning, May 2, I put on a spring green cashmere sweater, a wool tweed jacket I made from a 1941 pattern with dark blue-green threads running through it, chocolate brown pants, my duck’s egg blue belted topper made from a 1950 pattern, and vintage 1950s French cherry red rain shoes. I was doing my best to dress both for warmth and for spring.

(Photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

(Photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

It was only 38 degrees when I walked out the door at 8 am to catch my bus to the Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota–but I felt lucky, because at least the Twin Cities dodged the storm that blanketed a strip of southeastern Minnesota with over a foot of snow overnight.

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

While working with museum donor files in my volunteer job at the Goldstein I came across the file of Angela Coleman Foster. Here is one of the garments she donated to the museum.  Dating from the 1920s by an unknown maker, it is a breath of spring and summer. No, not a breath but two bracing lungfuls.  Just what I needed.

Here’s the museum description:

Sleeveless dress extends to just below knee length with uneven hem at back, rounded neckline in front with no collar, and lower rounded neckline in back, fabric is sheer peach with yellow, pink, red, purple, and green floral pattern, drop waist with wide gathered waistband, back sash and bow, peach underdress with sheer shoulder straps.

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

(photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

Angela Coleman Foster, thank you.

And unknown maker, thank you.1920sdress3