Know Your Cloche Hats

This classic hat is iconic (even though you may not have known what it was called until now.)  We’re here in the roaring 2020s to discuss cloche hats and who can pull them off after making such a massive mark on fashion in the roaring 1920s.

What Is a Cloche Hat?

The cloche hat is a bell-shaped, fitted hat that was popular in the 1920s, but it was invented in 1908 and remained popular until 1933.  These fashion accessories were typically made of felt to form around the head and were tailored to be worn low on the wearer’s forehead, with the eyes only slightly underneath the brim.

By the late 1920s, turning the brims of cloche hats upwards was fashionable. This look was popular in the early 1930s until the hat became outdated in the mid-1930s.

Cloche Hat History: Vintage Flapper Hats

Caroline Reboux, a well-known French hat designer, created and released the cloche hat, derived from the French word for “bell,” in 1908. This new hat model was bell-shaped, as the name suggests, and provided a very flattering silhouette for the wearer.

Initially, each hat was handcrafted by Caroline Reboux for each customer. Cloche hats were originally made of felt but were later made of straw or sisal. Caroline Reboux was a well-known self-made fashion designer who catered to royalty and celebrities at the time.

The Ladies’ Favorite Hat in the 1920s and 1930s

The 20s “Jazz Age” version of the cloche hat is one of the most well-known. This hat, which came in various styles, exuded mystery and just the perfect amount of allure.

These hats, known as “flapper hats,” were, of course, popularized by flappers. Cloche hats gained popularity during the 1920s and early 1930s due to the emergence of the “Eton Crop” hairstyle, a short, cropped cut worn slicked-down.

The cloche hat accentuated this new, clipped hairstyle, an icon of feminine independence. Indeed, cloche hats were known as bobbed hats for bob-haired at the time.

During this time, women discovered new ways to incorporate these distinctive hats into their daily lives. Everything from donning a casual cloche while running errands to foregoing a veil on your wedding day was permissible.

Adding adornments to your cloche was also popular at the time. Cloche hats were embellished with ribbons, beads, lace, appliques, brooches, and feathers by some women. Some modifications were made for more than a creative outlet or a fashion statement.

Certain ways to wear a ribbon or other decoration may indicate a hidden meaning. For example, a flashy bow on a woman’s cloche hat may indicate that she is currently available and looking. In contrast, a tight knot indicated that she was married and off the market.

The Contemporary Cloche Hat

While movies from the early “talkies” and silent era continued to increase the cloche’s allure, recent movies and TV shows have also given rise to their popularity. Cloche hats have been put back in the spotlight by shows like Downton Abbey, further romanticizing the 1920s era. Even hats you might not have considered cloche-styles have recently sneaked into other popular TV shows and movies.

The “modern” cloche incorporates the vintage style and simplicity of earlier cloche designs and includes more trendy designs, fabrics, comfort, and practicality. Cloche hats are available in almost any fabric, including wool or wool blends, straw, cotton knits, and even bamboo viscose, making them suitable for any season. Many modern cloche designs do not have brims, making them suitable for indoor-outdoor, all-day wear.

Who Looks Attractive in a Cloche Hat?

Bell hat

Because cloche designs have become more universal and available in many styles, there is no limit to who can pull off the cloche look. The cloche still provides a sliding scale of extra creativity for the wearer, allowing you to add your personal touch.

Choose between an old-school look and a more modern look. It’s entirely your choice, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

How to Wear a Cloche Hat Stylishly

If you like charming, bell-shaped vintage or modern cloche hats and have long or short hair, we will show you how to rock the cloche look.

Cloche Hat Fundamentals

When worn properly, a cloche can integrate a touch of grace into any outfit, whether casual or dressy. Cloche hats were traditionally worn at an angle to cover a tiny fraction of the face.

The most crucial consideration is choosing the correct cloche hat size. Your cloche should be snug enough on the crown of the head to stay in place when worn at an angle but still large enough to fit your head.

Cloche Materials

Different cloche materials are appropriate for various occasions, whether casual or formal. Cloche hats for formal occasions should be made of structured materials such as textured wool or plush fur felt. If you’re looking for a more casual-looking cloche, choose one made of quality straw or soft cotton.

Vintage and Modern Cloche Hats

If you prefer vintage flair, vintage-looking wide brim cloche hats that highlight the classic bell shape may be for you. If you prefer a more modern look, modern cloches with modern embellishments such as slim hatbands or chain-link belting might be a better fit.

With Long or Short Hair

A properly fitted cloche hat can highlight your special hairstyle regardless of hair length (check out these tips for hydrating your hair!). Experiment with the hat’s angle on your head to figure out how to wear your cloche with longer hair or how a cloche hat can complement shorter styles like bobs, pixie cuts, and bang cuts.

With medium-length to long hair, let it fall down the sides of your shoulders or try a ponytail (maybe draped over one shoulder). It depends on whether you want the bell-shaped cloche to highlight your cascading locks or your hair tied back (ponytails, braids, etc.) to showcase your hat, allowing your designer cloche to take center stage.

The cloche hat might be more than 100 years old and counting, but its allure endures. The cloche hat is a truly enchanting and unique design with a rich and colorful history that involves elegant beginnings, a creative outlet, a symbol of female independence, and a way of communicating without words.