It’s the roaring 20’s, the Jazz Age. The world is going through a momentous change. WW1 has just ended, the middle class is on the rise and women are beginning to assert a new found independence. Fashion gets swept along with all this change and starts going through a revolution of its own. The old Victorian and Edwardian fashions just do not work in this new world. Looser and freer styles which present new choices come into being.
Straight dropped waist dresses featuring rising hemlines, bold colors, and rich fabrics are enthusiastically embraced by the new woman and not only did 1920s fashions look totally different the young women wearing them felt and acted differently.
Amidst all this change a new type of hat was created which would become the iconic head covering for the entire decade. This particular hat was called the Cloche. Cloche means bell in French and indeed the basic shape of the cloche is that of a bell. Eventually, the term “Cloche” came to designate all of the streamlined, tight-fitting hats that were created in the 1920s.
Worn low and straight on the forehead, nearly obscuring the eyebrows, the cloche accentuated the streamlined silhouette of the flapper era.
While the cloche hat never really went totally out of style it had a strong resurgence in the 1960’s. Many hats from that time were blatant copies of their earlier cousins from the 1920’s, albeit using newer fabrics and updated construction techniques. If one is seriously interested in purchasing an authentic 1920’s cloche some home work on fabric and construction techniques are in order since many sellers use the term “cloche” or “flapper style” to describe a whole host of bell hats from many different periods.
Here are some examples of authentic 1920’s cloche hats ——
American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity is the first Costume Institute exhibition drawn from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met. It explores developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they have affected the way American women are seen today. Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress, the exhibition reveals how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. “Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” “Flappers” and “Screen Sirens,” among others, helped lay the foundation for today’s American woman.
The lavish garments are presented on mannequins in imaginative period vignettes.
This beautiful exhibit runs from May 5, 2010 to August 15, 2010. If you are in New York it’s well worth a visit and if not then please take a few minutes to enjoy this wonderful video presentation.
Men’s hats have been around since pre history although it wasn’t until the 19th century that most modern hat forms originated. The top hat and bowler tended to represent the authority of the aristocracy while the softer informal felt and straw hats were usually associated with artists, intellectuals and country folk. Most of these hats exist to his day. During our recent modern history the hat seems to have been retired as a fashion accessory but more recently they seem to be coming back. More and more gentlemen are discovering the value of this wonderful accessory and the sense of style it can convey.
I’ll be listing two hats tomorrow on my Etsy site. The first is a collapsible top hat, probably originally worn for a formal event. The second is a straw boater or skimmer, some 75 to 80 years old, just perfect for a summer outing.
Let me tell you about the best kept secret in New Jersey.
Have you ever been to Elizabeth’s Vintage Shop at the flea market on rt. 29 about a mile south of Lambertville? If not then you’ve missed a delightful treasure trove of pure vintage. Go up the small hill at the top of the market and enter a shop like no other. You’ll find racks bursting with vintage clothing from the Victorian era to the 1980’s. Each garment is presented in pristine condition – washed and neatly pressed.
Her selection includes vintage gloves, purses, lace trims, appliques, millinery details and her specialty – vintage hats. It’s spring now and the shop is filled to the brim with floral hats in bright summer colors. White Victorian blouses, floral summer dresses, neat linen frocks, cool silk and rayon lingerie, light spring sweaters, really so much to take in and so many wonderful choices.
Elizabeth also carries a large collection of vintage perfume related items along side showcases packed with vintage holiday memorabilia. If you’re looking for that special 1950’s stuffed rabbit for your Easter celebration you’re sure to find it here. Are you still searching for that Santa Claus ornament you remember since childhood? Elizabeth probably has it tucked away in a corner shelf.
There aren’t many shops like Elizabeth’s left and entering it is really like taking a trip back in time.
Shop is open Wed/ Sat and Sunday.
Here are some very recent pictures of the shop. Hope you enjoy.
Easter is just around the corner and I’m reminded of this great montage scene from the 1948 MGM picture “Easter Parade“. Music by Irving Berlin starring Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Ann Miller. This film represents the height of the Hollywood musical and one of the best of its time. This short segment depicts the height of fashion looking back from 1948. The song, “The Girl On The Magazine Cover”, features an ingenious stage act, in which women appear against backdrops that look like the covers of magazines.
High fashion, Hollywood glamour, wonderful music – take a look.
The Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show takes place in New York City this Friday and Saturday and we’re going to take it in. Always an interesting show it draws more than 80 dealers featuring vintage clothing and accessories for almost everyone – from the aficionado of the Victorian cinched waist to the high style fashionista hoping to emulate the big shouldered look of the1980’s and 90’s. It’s all there. We’ll be speaking with some dealers about collecting trends and their merchandise and will also be taking tons of pictures. It should be a great series of posts starting next Monday or Tuesday.
See you then.
Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show
125 W. 18th Street
New York City
Friday February 5 1pm – 6pm
Saturday February 6 11am – 6pm
Oh well, it seems That Mother Nature had other plans. We’ll just have to wait until the spring edition of the show.
Pulling up to the MH gallery, on west 20th street, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large and lively crowd all gathered to celebrate the culture of vintage fashion.
LoAlbo, seated in the front of the gallery, was busy signing copies of her new book. As she explained to me; not everyone can or wants to dress in full vintage mode. However, there are many who could easily spice up their contemporary wardrobe with some smart and unique vintage accessories. A mod handbag, a pair of vintage snake skin boots, a feathered hat, a sparkling vintage costume brooch or even a Salvador Dali necktie can all create a unique fashion statement.
Stacy LoAlbo, who owns the Incogneeto vintage boutique in Somerville, New Jersey, has also written numerous articles on vintage fashion for several newspapers, participated in dozens of shows in the field, given symposiums and lectures and has held several vintage clothing fashion shows. Her long experience in the field of vintage fashion has given her an evolved sense for fashion modes and trends.
Quoting the gallery notes
There are historical and cultural associations with vintage clothing and accessories. LoAlbo, in her new book, has given us lessons on that sentiment. The pages are filled with photography of dresses, hats and accessories with artfully cropped images of product shots by Jimmy Lin and Marguerite Ruscito. A book more for the fashionista or vintage collector, it easily crosses the boundary of art as it emphasizes the beauty, uniqueness and sensuality of these vintage items spanning an era that starts in the stylish early 1900’s to the plaids of the 1970’s.
Tons of great vintage accessories, people dressed in all their vintage finery, lots of books being signed and good conversations made for a great night.
We all know that fashion changes and almost nothing more so than the fashion of hats. Those charming and sometimes absurd creations we balance on the top of our well coiffed heads. From Victorian times up until the mid 20th century hats were a must. No self respecting fashion plate would be seen without one.
Modern hats went from being the overdone floral, feathered and ribboned concoctions of the Victorian and Edwardian era to the more spare, sculptural and minimal of the mid 20th century.
In this post I’d like to focus on the more spare and sculptural hats of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. Cocktail hats to be more specific. I’ve always enjoyed the classic black cocktail hat of that period. Many of these are like little sculptures, titled, bent, tortured works of satin, felt, raffia or straw.
It’s not too late in the party season to don a neat cocktail hat for an evening out.
Check out these sweet hats I’ve selected that are currently available from various Etsy dealers.