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 30s Original Cloche Hat With Velvet Floral Appliqu1929 Flapper Diva Black Cloche Hat W Slouch Garbo Brim,silk Wrap & Rose,lined VgBeautiful Louise Green Wool Plum Hat Cloche Velour Look Like Flower EucVtg 1920s Beige & Black Velvet Skull Cap Cloche Turban Gatsby Flapper Dress HatVtg. Ladies Andre Cloche Hat, Go To Church Style, Original Box,hudson's Bay Co.Vintage Victorian Edwardian Flapper Girl Women's Hat Or Headpiece Wedding Tiara2 Antique Vintage 1920s Flapper Girl Wooden Hat Stands Store Display Millinery Gymboree Holiday Classics Black Wool Dress Coat Jacket Size 6 & Cloche Hat 5-7Harley Davidson Aviator/flapper Leather & Rabbit Fur Lining Winter Hat Free Ship Pretty 1920's Style Cloche Hat-cream Color W/ Dark Brown Chiffon Trim.Vintage Kay Lynn Brown And Gray Soft Cloche HatNoble Purple Wool Hat Lady's Party Bowler Derby Hat Cloche Ddp5Black Vintage Lady's Wide Brim 100% Wool Felt Bowler Fedora Hat Floppy Cloche 1pNwt Kate Spade Wool Colorblock Beige Black Audrey Hepburn Cloche Hat One SizeVtg 20s Jean Nedra Green Velvet Cloche Turban Skull Cap Gatsby Flapper Dress Hat6 Antique Original Flapper Crocheted Silk Lace Night Cap Boudoir Hat 1920sWomens Crochet Cloche Hat Flower Flapper 1920s Handmade Light & Heather Gray1920s Dress 1930s Flapper Modern Millie Gatsby Drop Waist Silk & Camel Hat MedVtg Corde Black Skull Cap Tilt Topper Toque Cloche Gatsby Dress Hat 1930s 40s1920s/30's Vtg Dress Flapper Modern Millie Gatsby Drop Waist Silk Purple Hat MedWomens Vtg Black Velvet Cloche Hat By Carol Made In Italy 1920s Flapper CostumeVintage Flapper Faux Pearl & Beaded Fringed Skull Cap Hat1920s Hat Flapper Cloche Hat Modern Millie Great Gatsby Black Lace Cute OnBaabaazuzu Cloche Hat & Infinity Scarf Upcycled Wool Shades Of Red, Blue, Green Flapper Cigarette Holder Flapper Hat Garter Pearls Boa Accessories Free Dress True Vintage 1940's Wwii Era Jeweled Red Velvet Cloche Hat Union Made Flapper Girl Style Green Beaded Headpiece, Headdress Gatsby Hat CrochetWomen's Black Cloche HatA257 Black Womens Crushable Cute Bow Wool Beanie Cap Bucket Cloche HatTrend Style Women Hat Bolwer Bucket Hat Cloche Headwear Good Temperam YellowNwt Handcrafted Gray Grey Crochet Flapper Style 1920s Cloche Hat Rose FlowerVintage Black Feather Bucket Cloche HatCrochet 20's Misses Womans Flapper Cloche Hat Handmade Light Grey+var. BlacksHandknit Cloche Hat Size Medium BlackVintage Mink Fur Genuine Pill Box Hat Cloche / 1950s / Blonde Light BrownFd146 Unisex Indian Stretchable Turban Hat Headband Wrap Cap Headwrap Cloche August Accessories New Womens Melton Cloche Wool Black Hat Savoir Fair Velvet Cloche Hat1920s Theme Antique Style Flapper Hat Cloche Pleated BeretWomen Ladies Winter Angola Bucket Church Cap Flower Cloche Bucket Hat WhiteCrochet 20's Misses Womans Flapper Cloche Hat Handmade Buff + NutmegRoaring 20's Flapper Dress With Hat MediumOff White Croche Japanese Yarn Cloche Hat Handmade With Lace Flower,pink Bow,mHat -"nine West" Maroon Wool Cap Cadet Cloche Newsboy Gold Buttons Msrp $30.00Ladies Winter Soft Faux Fur Packable Russian Bucket Cloche Snow Ski Hat Dk Red Very Stylish Ladies Brown Hat 100% Paper Straw Crocheted Cloche Crushable Hat Pink And Orange Flower Crochet Cloche Hat"handmade"with Japanese Yarn,mNew Huge Bow Ladies Womens Knit Cap Cloche Crushable Crochet Hat A225 Pink