It’s the summer noon and the mood is frisky. I look out into the bright sun. The summer wardrobe special is always the whites, pastels and the one polka dot dress. It takes me back to the time I felt light in my being and had the caress of the warm wind against my shoulder blade. Polka dots are the easiest to wear. It needs no styling. It stands out among the milieu of the hardened stripes, the paisleys or the wild flowers. Polka dots are flirtatious, just the way I like it.
I think dots are representative of the many moods of a woman. The traditional bindi is a dot. In Bengali we call it the teep. Here it represents the intuitive chakra of your body. We press against it to hear the intuitive sound clearer and sharper against the din or cacophony.
There is also the three-dot tattoo which I was born with on my forehead. I’d like to think that in spirit it’s like the common prison tattoo that says “Mi vida loca” or “My crazy life” that’s commonly done around the eyes or the hands. In my case I grew up with three moles in a trilogy of sorts on my forehead right in between my brows. As I grew older, the dots got darker and deeper. I knew the gods above had decided it would be my crazy life with its myriad shades of grey.
Polka dots were inspired by the Bohemian dance called the polka. It was in fashion as house dresses and garden dresses in the early 1920s. This captured the youth-driven fashion look. I find myself still gravitate towards this unconventional arrangement on fabric, where each dot is accurately shaped and placed against each other in an array of a wild dance pattern.
Polka-dotted dresses are a part of this Bohemian fashion style, commonly referred to as Boho Chic. The early years of the 21st century saw a return of this unconventional style norm. Fashionable girls wore ruffly floral skirts with short tops and boots. And among them was the polka-dotted dresses with cowboy hats, or flowers on the head like a tiara.
It shouted out loud, the need to be unconventional, free in spirit and have sexual freedom. This was not just a print, it was a lifestyle. The non-bourgeois gypsy girl was an expression of being themselves, feeling sexy in their artistic pursuits. It also meant not giving two hoots about fashion diktats.
Bohemian women were the grand synthesis of the feminine Wonder Woman. She didn’t need the metal bra or the corset. She roamed free, smelling the flowers in the forest, as she wore her femininity on her entire demeanour with an unhindered attitude.
And my polka dress is a reiteration of just that. I wish for every woman to not be pressured to fit into the mould of right and wrong, prescribed by a patriarchal mindset. As I wear the dress and feel the soft fabric over my skin, I know I will travel where my heart can hear the song of the butterflies and catch the blush of the morning dawn.
If I find myself on a placid cool lake with flowers growing on each side of its bank, I shall chase the ripples on the water and dip into its coolness with my polka dot dress soaking in the cool wetness of freedom.