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Cloche Encounters – Radical Fashion Statement of the 1920’s


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 ——

Straw Cloche - 1920's

From the Slapmefabulous collection

1920's Felt Cloche

Available at svintage

1920's Straw Cloche

Can be found at marvita13

There aren’t many nice 20’s cloches to be found online but fell free to comment about these few classics I’ve managed to find.

As an added treat check out this video.