I search online but cannot find answers that will suffice. Seems like they started showing up in Europe around the time Polka music became the craze - late 1800's-ish. This may be how they got their name, but I simply cannot believe that the chicken dance birthed the polka dot. It's just not possible.
Since we don't know the exact origin of polka dots, let's focus on a few key moments in history when they were most prevalent...
Minnie Mouse. Oh, you already know how I feel about her. I don't believe her effect on humanity would have been nearly as great had Walt Disney made her dress any other print. Stripes, checks, paisley, or houndstooth would not have given off that sweet, innocent, friendly, chic vibe the way her polka dots do.
Or how 'bout that Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini? Would that song have been such a hit had it been an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Bikini? I think not.
Lucille Ball wore polka dot dresses that perfectly portrayed her silly, light-hearted, quirky personality. Is it even possible for a polka dot to be serious? Doubt it.
Polka dots even impacted Julia Robert's character, Vivian, in Pretty Woman. You just know as soon as she put that dress on, she felt like a real, classy laaaaddy. At least until that horrible Philip guy came along and ruined her day. And it's hard to ruin a day in polka dots, let me tell ya. The jerk.