The Mystery Behind the
Polish American Polka Costume
© 1999 Stas Kmiec
For many years there has been a mystery among Polish Americans and those pursuing authentic Polish culture surrounding the popularity of the ribboned skirt costume,
especially among Poles abroad. Some thought it was part of a communion outfit, others labeled it a wedding dress.
On a recent trip to Poland, I met with noted costume and ethnography expert, Sabina Dados, a curator at The Ethnographic Museum in Lublin, and spoke with her about
this costume. I had now noticed Cepelia shops in Poland were now carrying dolls and costumes of this unknown style. Where did this costume come from?
Ms. Dados informed me that the costume did have its roots in Poland, but was not an authentic regional costume. During the period of 1920-1939, prior
to the outbreak of World War II, Poland was rapidly progressing toward modernization. What originated as a fashion (moda) at various functions was the presence of what was now concieved as a stylized
modern folk costume.