Kendall Jenner is wearing a polka dot bikini while lounging by the pool. Kendall is wearing a polka-dotted robe in a video posted to Instagram, and a polka dot dress. Kendall is wearing a matching silky polka dot set at a charity poker tournament. Simply put, Kendall loves dots.
Research proves that Kendall may have good reason to love polka dots. “Circles and spheres are the most approachable shapes, with no sharp edges to risk injury. Our emotional brain understands this intuitively and unconsciously prefers round forms over angular ones,” writes Ingrid Fetell Lee in Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. “Research has shown that people implicitly associate curved forms with safety and positivity while associating sharp angles with danger and negativity,” she continues. Fetell Lee goes on to explain that our love of dots is linked to the amygdala in our brains, proving a scientific reason why we’re drawn towards the shape. She adds that polka dots do double duty, mixing play with abundance, two things that are proven to bring joy.
Kendall isn’t the only star that rocks a dotted-ensemble from time to time. Miley Cyrus, Lizzo, Rosalía, Emily Ratajkowski, and Chloe x Halle have all been spotted (sorry!) in the polka dot trend lately. Our collective love of the print can be traced back to 1926 when Miss America was photographed in a polka dot swimsuit. Two years later, in 1928, Disney introduced Minnie Mouse donning her now-infamous red polka dot dress and matching bow. From there, the polka dot was abundant in fashion collections, including an hourglass Dior dress in the late 30s. Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, and Marilyn Monroe were all fans of the print.
While the print has popped up throughout American history, it has strong fashion roots abroad. Notably: Japan and Denmark. Commes Des Garcons Play has a long history of using polka dots in their collections—so much so it could be considered its signature style, along with its smiley-face heart. Copenhagen-based brands like Ganni, Stine Goya, Nunoo, and Saks Potts made strong polka-dotted appearances at Copenhagen Fashion Week a couple of weeks ago. Spots were prevalent both on and off the runway, which led Teen Vogue Fashion Editor Michelle Li to claim polka dots were one of the biggest fashion week trends. We’re excited about “polka dots making a major comeback as a print this season. We saw it blown up, scrunchie-fied, and re-interpreted in a new fuzzier form,” she writes. The popularity of the polka dot in Nordic countries, and what we know about its link to happiness, make sense since Nordic countries repeatedly score high on the World Happiness Report (Denmark was the second happiest country in 2019).
With Kendall’s stamp of approval and its association with happiness, it’s no wonder that a polka dot dress from Zara went viral earlier this summer. While Kendall’s polka dot dress (from Allesandra Rich) and swimsuit (from Wanderlust Swim) are sold out, we’ve rounded up other dotted-options that will keep you happy (and on-trend) for the upcoming season. If you’re not ready to go head-to-toe dots a la Kendall, fret not: polka dot accessories are the perfect way to add a splash of joy to an outfit.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue