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    

Vintage 1920s Woven Straw W Silk Lining Cloche Hat Bluebird Hats Paris New YorkVintage Inspired 1920s Style Peach Fringed Cloche Hat Downton Abbey Great GatsbyVintage 1920s Flapper Cloche Hat Cranberry Wool Felt Deco Rhinestone Clip NmintTrue Vtg Antq 1910 20 Edwardian Rare Wide Brim Flapper Cloche Lrg Hat $4.85 TagTrue Vtg Antq 1920s Designer Edwardian Deco Silk & Chenille Cloche Flapper HatVintage 1920s Flapper Era Womans Hat Summer Cloche Garden Party Antique GreenTrue Vtg Antq 1920 Designer Edwardian Deco Velvet Metallic Cloche Flapper Lg Hat Woman Autumn Bowknot Floppy Wide Brim Wool Felt Fedora Cloche Custom Hat CapVintage Inspired 1920s Style Cream & Pink Cloche Hat Downton Abbey Gatsby- L- XlTrue Vtg Antq 1910 1920 Edwardian Deco Black Silk Velvet Flapper Cloche Lrg Hat Ladies Vtg Peck & Peck Yellow Straw Cloche Hat Band Of Yellow Millinery RosesVintage Lavender Woven Straw Woman's Cloche Hat Nr August Accessories New Black Wool Blend Feathered Bow Cloche Hat O/s BhfoNew Women Faux Wool Wide Brim Felt Bowler Fedora Hat Lady Floppy Cloche RedRed Vintage Women Lady Wool Felt Floppy Wide Brim Fedora Bowler Cloche Hat CapNew Vintage Women Lady Wool Felt Floppy Wide Brim Fedora Bowler Cloche Hat CapVintage 1920s Cloche Style Ladies Hat In Lilac Wool Felt Black Velvet TrimNew Vintage Women Lady Wool Felt Floppy Wide Brim Fedora Bowler Cloche Hat CapTide Lady Women Large Floppy Straw Beach Sun Hat Cloche Cap Foldable Black 04s1Retro Girls Kids Wide Brim Khaki Wool Spinning Hat Floppy Felt Cloche Fedora CapStylish Vintage Women's Wide Brim Bowler Hat Cloche Sun Cap Free ShippingVintage Women Brim Wool Felt Bowler Fedora Hats Floppy Cloche Wool Felt Hat BlkTide Women Large Floppy Straw Beach Sun Hat Cloche Cap Foldable Rose Red 01s1Vintage Black & Gold Roberta Bernay's Cloche HatBeige Women Ladies 1920s Wool Felt Floral Bucket Hat Warmer Cloche A222Adorable Vintage Eva Mae Hat Of Distinction Felted Angora Look Wool Cloche HatVintage Women Brim Wool Felt Bowler Fedora Hats Floppy Cloche Wool Felt Hat CofeVintage Women Brim Wool Felt Bowler Fedora Hatsfloppy Cloche Wool Felt Hat BeigeVintage Dyed Woven Pattern Faux Fur Toque Style Cloche HatVintage Dark Brown Mink Look Faux Fur Satin Lined Toque Style Cloche Hat