Hot! The “Pretty Polka Dots” Dress

The Facts

  • Fabric: No idea what it is, but it has a lovely drape (stash)
  • Pattern: Vogue 9277, view C (stash)
  • Year: 1940s
  • Notions: thread (stash), 1 button (stash), zipper (stash)
  • Time to complete: 4 hours
  • First worn:
  • Wear again?: Yes
  • Total price: $0

I’m only a week late with this post. Sheesh. Life’s gotten busy around here, but I didn’t want to miss this one.

Wow, there are so many tragic outfits in my childhood, it’s hard to know where to begin. Growing up in the 1980s means there’s a lot of pink (like, bad pink…like Michael Jackson’s “Bad” pink), a lot of radical designs, a lot of unicorns, a lot of jumpers, a lot of fashion sadness. But a few decent themes seemed to run through a lot of my childhood pictures, namely the color combination of navy and white, and also polka dots. On dance costumes, on dress-up clothes (the green polka-dotted scarf was a sash if you were wealthy but acted as a top to cover one’s prepubescent chest if you were a peasant or Cinderella), on smocks, on shirts, on dresses. The ubiquitous polka dots (which I recently discovered my mother dislikes immensely).

Oh my gosh, I remember how much I loved that white shirt with the navy polka dots (complete with pegged, ripped, acid-washed skinny jeans over white tights that had lace at the ankles–so dreadfully cool).

And it just so happens my enormous stash contains two polka-dotted fabrics, one in dark navy and white that I got free and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been purchased in the 1980s. So this is what I came up with.

Polka dots all grown up. It’s a 1940s pattern, but it looks very “1980s secretary” to me.

I have no idea what the fabric is made out of, but it is way comfortable and flaps like a kite in the wind. We took these photos today, Sunday, right before flying kites in fact. And it was rather cold, so I paired the dress with my vintage 1970s plaid wool coat.

Perfect match!


Erin Bartels

Erin is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.


Comments are closed.

  1. Love it and it looks great with the coat!

  2. I love that dress, the neck detail is so cute and your childhood photos are adorable!

  3. I love the whole thing!! I am also a fan of the polka dot and your dress is awesome! And I can tell by your side-ponytail that you were totally one of the cool kids in school. Great job!

    • HA! I don’t know if I was truly cool, but I did have cool friends and managed to talk my mom into buying me the right jeans so I wouldn’t be ostracized.

  4. The dress is fabulous! I adore polka dots and I think it works perfectly with this style :) The neckline is my favorite part!

  5. I think it looks more 40s than 80s and goes beautifully with your plaid coat too. The style really suits you.