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Cloche Hat

A popular women’s hat of the 1920s

The cloche hat is a fitted, bell-shaped hat that was popular during the 1920s, but was first created in 1908 and enjoyed popularity until 1933. Cloche is the French word for bell. Caroline Reboux is the creator of the cloche hat.

Cloche hats were usually made of felt so that they formed round the head and typically designed to be worn low on the forehead, with the wearer’s eyes only slightly below the brim. By the late 20s it became fashionable to turn the brims on cloche hats upwards. This style remained prevalent throughout the early 1930s until the cloche hat became obsolete in the mid 30s.

Different styles of ribbons fixed to the hats carried different messages about the wearer. Popular messages include – An arrow-like ribbon which indicated a girl was single but had already given her heart to someone, a firm knot which signaled marriage or a flamboyant bow which indicated the wearer was single and interested in mingling.

Cloches were made of beads or lace for evening wear, for cocktails, dancing or even for bridal wear.

The cloche hat’s popularity and influence were enormous. Couture houses like Lanvin and Molyneux opened ateliers to join milliners in manufacturing the hats. The hats even shaped hairstyles: the Eton crop (the short, slicked-down cut worn by Josephine Baker) became popular because it was ideal to showcase the hats’ shape.