The Cloche Hat

Straw, felt and velvet appliqued cloche. Victoria &Albert Museum
Ladies Wool Felt Cloche Hat - Coffee W27S44AThe cloche was to the 1920s what the snood was to the '40s, only more so. Although it was not the only style of headwear around at the time, it's the one most associated with the period. Called a cloche because of its distinctive bell shape (cloche is French for bell), this hat sat low on the head, shading the eyes and giving the wearer an intriguing allure...

As a bonus, the quirky cloche added a little extra height as the top of the hat was rather bulbous - it was a style which complimented the short, bobbed hairstyles of the era and sometimes the hair was actually almost completely hidden beneath the cloche.

The 1920s collided with the emergence of the Art Deco period and many of the hats incorporated some of the characteristic design elements into the cloche, with the use of bold lines, deco appliques and Aztec zig zag seaming in greens, pinks, creams and blacks.


It was a very creative period from a fashion perspective and milliners were inspired by exotic locations and vampish fantasies. Some sought out stylistic inspiration from the Far East...Egypt, China, Japan and Russia. Apart from the ubiquitous cloche, headresses included tiaras, turbans, silk headbands, toques, kokoshniks and scarves elaborately knotted at one side. 

Just about everyone wore a hat in the 1920s and it would have been considered very poor taste to be seen out in public without something on your head. This was particularly true for men, as tipping your hat for a lady was standard practice.

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