HISTORY OF THE CLOCHE
Some favorites from my personal cloche collection
A favorite brown cloche with wider brim
The timeless Louise Brooks wearing a lovely cloche
Evie and Beatrice sporting cloches in The House of Eliott
Are you a hat lover? Do you flock to millinery in antique shops and browse countless websites searching for the perfect hat?
My favorite hat design is the cloche (French for bell) which became fashionable in 1908 and remained so until 1933, hence revealing that the cloche was not confined to the 20’s era, as is sometimes believed. However, it was most certainly at its most popular during that time period. The cloche of that era resembled a helmet and worn properly, would have been nearly pulled over the eyes making it necessary for the wearer to lean her head back in an almost air of superiority. The clever bell shape was meant to add height to the wearer to give off the illusion of grandeur.
The brims on the cloche, when worn in 1908 were close fitting with deep crowns over the brow, underwent a change in later years. Between 1922-1925, the hat was even snugger and the brim was small at the front. The only way to bring an updated look to the hat was to further reduce the brim. The new reduced brim became fashionable after 1926 and completely disappeared by 1928.
Cloches exist in many forms and are often made of felt, making it much easier to form fit closer to the head. Also noted is the influence of the Art Deco movement which may be seen in construction line, appliqués and zigzag seaming.
And what of the hairstyle most associated with the cloche? By the early 1920’s "the bob" became the rage and when a woman sported a cloche, her bobbed hair was pressed very close to her head most often revealing the cheek sweep of hair which accentuated her cheekbones and created a fresh feminine look.
I’m delighted to find so many cloche hats available today and am always eager to find the perfect one to add to my growing collection. However, to truly pay proper homage to the cloche, one must also adorn her lips with ox-blood red lipstick before daring to venture in public...At least she must do so if she is to accurately recreate the era...