When you think of the 1920s and the flapper era, one hat comes to mind—the cloche. French for bell, the cloche is often credited to French designer Caroline Reboux, but some say the cloche was a Coco Chanel brainchild. Regardless, the hat was extremely stylish, featuring a deep crown that allowed it to be worn very low, almost to the eyebrows.

Cloche hats ranged from beaver felt dyed in a range of colors to straw. At first, the brims of cloche hats were essentially extensions of the crown, dropping straight down on all sides with no rim, let alone brim. By the end of the 1920s, though, it was common for the cloche to be worn with the brim turned up, especially in the front. This extended the depth of the hat in the back, adding intrigue and complication to the basic bell shape.

Many cloche hats were worn unadorned, but lots of styles demanded ribbons. Interestingly, the style of ribbon could tell a prospective suitor something about the young lady underneath the hat. For example, a ribbon that resembled an arrow signaled that the woman was already in a relationship, a knot naturally meant the wearer was married, but a big bow was an eye-catching sign of availability.

French fashion houses from Lanvin to Patou to Chéruit, to name but a few, designed clothes to go with cloche hats. Some hairstyles also suited the hat better than others. For example, Josephine Baker’s short cut was perfect for the short hat, and advertisers promoted the cloche as a bobbed hat for women with bobbed hair. Even more famously, Marlene Dietrich was a loyal Reboux cloche customer. But by the middle of the 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, the cloche had all but disappeared, a painful reminder, perhaps, of better days.

Of course, the cloche was not the only 1920s hat that women of the flapper era went crazy for. In addition to the ubiquitous cloche, women wore sculptural hats resembling airplane wings or crowns. Felt hats were embroidered with Art Deco flowers, and kits were sold for just $.89 so that women could make their own “crushers,” as they were called. Actress Louise Brooks made it acceptable to wear pokes and helmet hats, and so-called Speakeasy hats were studded with sequins and costume jewels.

Things sobered up a bit in the 1930s, but only a bit. Black, Sou’wester hats made of braided hemp continued the helmet look. In fact, straw hats went from garden to dressy, as straw cloches were woven with ecru to resemble smart tweeds. Knit turbans took off thanks to Greta Garbo, the pillbox was introduced, and women even took to wearing sequined or rhinestone-accented calot caps, which resembled large yarmulkes and were first worn by the ancient Greeks. Colorful berets and pirate caps, as well as felt or stitched geometric Dutch Boys, added to the decade’s eclectic sense of style.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Des Chapeaux

Des Chapeaux

A French tribute to women's hats and other headwear from the 1940s... primarily magazine images, with some commenta… [read review or visit site]

American Hatpin Society

American Hatpin Society

Who knew there was so much to hatpin collecting? This site is all about great hatpin images - from recent hatpin co… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Nwd Goorin Lady Eileen Wool Beige Wide Brimmed Felt Cloche Womens Fashion HatBeautiful Women’s True Vintage 1950s Black Fur Felt Cocktail Hat ClocheBeautiful Louise Green Cloche Straw Hat - Light Blue- W/blue Velvet Trim DetailsNew Vintage Women Lady Wool Felt Floppy Wide Brim Fedora Bowler Cloche Hat CapNew Woman Sinamay Vintage Chic Derby Church Downton Abbey Feather Cloche HatVtg. 1920s Lacy Black Crinoline Flapper Cloche Hat Pink Flower Small Head SizeTrue Vtg 1920s Flapper Cloche Hat Stunning Black Velvet Bugle Beads Sequins Black Velvet Wide-brimmed Cloche Women's Hat Stylish FunRed Vintage Women Lady Wool Felt Floppy Wide Brim Fedora Bowler Cloche Hat CapFashion Blue Kid Girl`s Fedora Straw Cloche Hat Summer Cap Beach Outdoor BowknotWomen Lovely Wide Brim Wool Felt Bowler Fedora Beach Hat Floppy Cloche Sun Cap Y1x Beige Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq7Vtg 60s Woven Straw Cloche Bell Bucket Red Flower Floral Hat Summer Church Lot Of 4 Hat Man Cloche Hats Black, White, Tan, Light Blue One Size Fits AllVintage Betmar Of New York Gray Wool Felt Cloche Hat- Sz Small1x Black Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq1Indian Floral Printed Head Cover Wrap Hat Turban Cloche Chemo Bandana Hair Cover1x Khaki Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq81x Red Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq2Hat 163-ladies Women Church Casual Cloche Tapestry Mint Green Pink Yellow Sz MRed Womens Crushable Cute Bow Wool Beanie Cap Bucket Cloche Hat A257Fashion Vintage Cute Ladies Women Round Woolen Felt Cloche Derby Bowler Hat Cap1x Yellow Kid Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq111x Pink Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq91x Rose Red Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Ddq101x Sky Blue Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Ddq51x Blue Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq31x Navy Kids Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq41x Orange Kid Children Girls Soft Straw Bowler Derby Bucket Cloche Hat Cap Ddq12Black Summer Autumn Beach Women Girl Folding Straw Bowler Derby Cloche Sun HatKhaki Summer Autumn Beach Women Girl Folding Straw Bowler Derby Cloche Sun HatRose Summer Autumn Beach Women Girl Folding Straw Bowler Derby Cloche Sun HatBlue Summer Autumn Beach Women Girl Folding Straw Bowler Derby Cloche Sun HatBiege Summer Autumn Beach Women Girl Folding Straw Bowler Derby Cloche Sun Hat