As much as I love plaid and check patterns, polka dots patterns will always bring great joy to my heart. For example, I will smile or even laugh whenever I see them or think about them. Therefore when I see clothes or home decor in polka dots, I find it irresistible to buy them.
I was very curious to learn about the history of my beloved pattern since the only thing I knew about polka was a dance named the polka.
As a matter of fact, I wondered if there was any correlation between the two, the dance and the pattern.
Therefore, an online search should answer my question. But even before an answer to its history, I got side tracked.
It is undeniable that it has been very popular. Although one critic insisted that the pattern was childish, polka dots clearly have a much wider appeal than just to children.
The pose of Marilyn Monroe above in a two piece polka dots pattern bathing suit attests to the most outstanding quality of this pattern. That is its appeal to adults not just children. Similar to it is the appeal of the photo below of Victoria Silvstedt. Even more so, her polka dots bikini barely covers her.
MORE (OR LESS)
“Strutting her stuff: Victoria Silvstedt, who has worked with top designers including Chanel, Christian Dior and Valentino, looked incredible in the bandeau bikini which did little to contain her assets.”
Quote from The Daily Mail
Let’s Have A Party Polka – Walter Ostanek, Brian Sklar and Western Senators – Polkarama! from Youtube.
HISTORY OF THE POLKA DOT PATTERN
From PBS NewsHour: “At the Hirshhorn Museum, visitors are lining up to experience Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s world of whimsy, color, shapes and a peek into the beyond. Jeffrey Brown tells us why this new exhibit is currently the toughest ticket in Washington, D.C.”
“The nine decades of artist Yayoi Kusama’s life have taken her from rural Japan to the New York art scene to contemporary Tokyo, in a career in which she has continuously innovated and re-invented her style.” YouTube
Buffalo Check which is also known as Lumberjack Plaid is a mate to tartan plaid. Similar to the Royal Stewart tartan plaid, the former is equally as popular. Just about anything that looks good in Royal Stewart looks great in this pattern, too.
Historically, this pattern could include clothing, then bedding, now handbags and other items. Here’s a great story from Tartan Authority describing its history.
MORE OF THIS PATTERN
Continuing on from its Indian blanket trading history, it became a pattern for a man’s shirt. This design has been popularized on many items. Here is a sampling of its use in bedding above and then in a woman’s handbag below.
My plaid passion began sometime in my youth although I can’t say exactly when. But plaid has been a favorite pattern of mine as far back as I can remember.
My earliest memory may have just been the pattern itself. But there is no question that I soon developed a taste for anything with it.
I had clothes, a jacket and tartan plaid sheets and towels. My mother even had a plaid bathrobe.
But it was not until I was an adult that I learned about the Scottish plaids that represented the clans. They proudly wore the tartan and it was not just for decoration.
I later learned that there are many different tartan plaids as well as plaids that are unrelated to Scottish clans.
There are two types of plaid that I love. They are tartans plaid and lumberjack plaid aka buffalo check. The former come from the clans that wove this fabric and made their garments from these ancestral patterns.
Their history is described here in this post. In addition, images above focuses on bedding and clothes in the Royal Stewart tartan plaid while images for lumberjack plaid aka buffalo check are on the next blog post.
My plaid passion has never worn out. In fact to this day, I have found a new object for my love of plaid, handbags. I don’t think I ever owned a plaid one. But that is about to change. Searching online, I have discovered an abundance of plaid handbags. This actually includes those made out of wool and cotton. Then there are my outstanding favorites, patent leather plaid.
Although the above handbag is not in a traditional plaid, it is still beautiful. Here is a tote that is in a traditional Stewart plaid.
It is a well known fact in the fashion industry that haute couture can only be afforded by the very wealthy. Thanks to the world of ‘knock-off’ fashion, the extraordinary becomes affordable. Therefore, this blog post provides some really surprising financial examples of this in the handbag industry.
As Meryl Streep deliberately explains to Ann Hathaway in, ‘The Devil Wears Prada‘, the extraordinary births the ordinary. Meryl Streep describes the origins of a shabby blue sweater that Anne Hathaway is wearing. Its history is from glamorous haute cuttiere. Anne Hathaway is totally oblivious to this. At this stage in the movie, Anne has no idea that the the ordinary is inspired by the extraordinary.
WILD ABOUT HANDBAGS
Although I am not devotee of high fashion clothing, I am wild about handbags. Therefore I have been studying the world of glamour in this industry. One of my favorite companies is Rebag. I have been introduced to luxury handbags through their social media and website. This adds to the knowledge I already have to what I consider affordable quality handbags including Coach, Dooney and Bourke, and Kate Spade.
HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS
Since I have only been able to encounter handbags in the hundreds in person, I can only surmise the difference in the cost of those in the thousands.
My favorite Coach vintage bag is called the Willis bag. Because it is a classic, variations of it have been made over many decades. A recent version, in green, and two original designs are pictured below.
They are all high quality Coach products but their age can impact the price by several hundred dollars. Due to its rarity, the vintage Willis is about twice the cost of the new one.
THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS
I had no idea that there were handbags that were more expensive than new automobile or even a house. Even those designer bags have imitators or want-to-be handbags. The designer bags include the Hermes Birkin bags which are six and seven figures. Their inspired versions cost a few hundred retail like the totes from Coach and Kate Spade.
Both very expensive and less expensive handbag companies make whimsical purses. Great whimsy inspires affordability. The most famous of this is Judith Leiber handbags. They are very whimsical as well as expensive. In similar fashion, Kate Spade came out with its frog bag. The former retails for a few hundred dollars. The latter goes for between about $5,000.
These two totes are so similar. In fact, I took a double take when I discovered the Burberry Remington tote. It’s hard to believe that it can cost up to five times as much as the Kate Spade on the right when this designer ‘knock’ goes on sale.
GUESS WHICH BRAND THIS ONE IS
Sometimes the affordable bags are so well made that one can’t tell the difference between luxury, ‘working girl designer’ (like Coach and Kate Spade) or a total ‘knock off’. This example is from the best knock off company I have found. If you’re curious, the answer is in the Sources and Resources section.
As a handbag collector and flea market stalker, I am always on the prowl for that special but accessible bag that the seller is practically giving away. Wouldn’t it be great if someone was selling an extraordinary purse for next to nothing. That is my dream. So I continue to search and collect in the hope my dream comes true.
My designer purse gems were not difficult for me to select from my rather large collection of favorite designer and style bags. Some are on my studio wall to provide a decorative view of this room. Others decorate my bedroom, and the rest are housed in their own cabinet. Four of my designer purse gems are featured in this blog post. Indeed these four are my favorites even though I have many others that I love.
For example, I own about a dozen Coach bags. These and others purses are the ones that serve as decoration on my studio wall. They are all still usable as pocketbook. They are truly my designer purse gems.
From the above and other purses that I have collected, there are four that are the absolute gems. The images below or either from my own collection or from the companies themselves. How I wish you could see them and touch them. Maybe one day, they will all be in a design museum or a handbag collection in a interdisciplinary one. Museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art, also in New York and The Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Then you will able to see them in person.
Did you know that there are other museums that do house outstanding everyday objects of superior design? Well, there are. Even though some of my bags are design to last ‘forever’, I hope that as many people as possible will be able to enjoy them by experiencing them. Then my designer purse gems, will be your design purse gems, too.
Acquiring an ‘all weather leather’ Dooney & Bourke bag started my collection. That is because a D & B bag was the ideal way to dress on rainy days and fun vintage bag days. So began my collecting. But it did not last forever.
Although this company had it purse beginnings in all weather leather, it have moved on to other styles and materials. When they moved on, I moved on as well.
But their all weather leather is still my favorite Dooney & Bourke. That’s why I want to focus this post on ‘their duck bag’.
Their original styles can sometimes be found on sites like ebay and Pinterest
The bag shown below is similar to the very first one I ever owned. It was my first step into designer bags. From there, my story continues.
COLLECTING QUALITY LEATHER PURSES
As I mentioned, my first love was Dooney & Bourke. Coach had not introduced vibrant color yet. Therefore I gravitated to the colorful ‘all weather leather’ that caught my eye when I began collecting. Because of the vibrant, colorful design of all the bags I bought, the one below has always been my favorite.5> It was the teton bucket purse style.
I found so many picture of ‘All Weather Leather’ Bags when I was researching this post. To be thorough, I am including this image from ebay.5>
Traveling Coach Style is a very fun and pleasant ways to coordinate a purse with an outfit. As a connoisseur of fine leatherware, I gifted myself a new purse each birthday for many years. In fact, the brand has either been a Coach or a Dooney & Bourke.
Each company has a long history of quality leather goods. Although they both use primarily leather and fabric, their results are uniquely recognizable. So whether one is ‘traveling coach style’ or in ‘all weather leather’, with these products, it is always with fashion in mind.
I have not always been able to afford the latest and newest creation of my favorite leather goods. Since our budget has changed dramatically in recent years, I have become a frequenter of thrift stores. I am always on the lookout for great buys. In this category I have found many.
In fact, I recently discovered Rebag, re(used) purses that are not just for the shabby. They are very chic but less expensive than to buy them new.
For your viewing pleasure, future posts about this topic will feature pictures of great designs, colorful bags, and some of my very own favorites. Keep reading these fun fashion posts, to find out my most desired bag for my upcoming birthday.
To answer this Coach quiz question, ‘when was the Coach Company founded and who designed their early bags’?, or comment on this post, scroll to the very bottom of the page and engage in Disqus. If you do not find Disqus, click on the ‘continue reading’ box on the right hand side to reveal it.