Cloche hats weren't just for keeping warm. They were worn for every occasion including weddings and dancing the night away.
The quintessential headgear for the flapper of the 1920s, the cloche was a bell shaped hat worn low over the head, almost down to the eyes. (Cloche means bell in French). This shape was worn as early as 1908 and was already very popular by 1916, but it was during the 1920s that these wonderful hats really took off.
Fabulous for keeping warm motoring around the countryside in those wonderful open topped cars, the new fangled headgear was usually made of felt, which molded easily to the shape of the head.
The rim was minimised, and decoration simple. Often a scarf was draped around the hat and fastened to one side, tassels and feathers were occasionally applied to one side only, and Art Deco motifs also played a strong role.
Zig zag pieces were applied which mirrored the zig zag hems of the ever shorter flapper dresses. They gave the wearer a rather haughty look, as you had to lift your eyes to see out from under the low rim.
Makeup had to be dramatic with kohl rimmed eyes and blood red lipstick.
For evening wear, much lighter headdresses were made, sometimes a lattice of bead work or sequins which fitted tight over the head and cascaded down around the ears.
Wedding headdresses were in white beads or lace for the bride and bridesmaids.
More tubular shapes with a squarer top imitated the Egyptian style which was so popular after the discovery of Tuthankhamun's tomb in 1922.
The bobbed hairstyle was ideal for this type of hat, and prevailed throughout the 1920s.
Cloches went out of fashion around 1933, when hair styles grew longer
and more feminine and hats were smaller, with wider brims and jauntily
perched on top of the head.
There was a revival of the style in the 1980s and they are still practical and stylish. You can get originals, which are a great collecting area, or reproductions which might be better if you want to wear them.
Have a look at the great selection of new and vintage hats now available on Ebay in the USA, UK and Australia. The final link will take you to your local eBay site if you are outside those countries.
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