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What is a Cloche Hat?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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A cloche hat is a close fitting women's hat with a floppy brim which is designed to be worn low on the forehead. A well designed cloche is structured so that the wearer must tilt her head and peer down her nose to see, giving her a slightly haughty look. Cloche hats were made immensely popular in the 1920s, when they were used to make daring fashion statements, and they experienced a brief period of resurgence at the end of the 20th century.

”Cloche” is French for “bell,” and a cloche hat does indeed resemble a bell. The bulk of the hat is usually pressed on a hat stand to add some height and loft to the finished product, while the floppy brim can vary in size. Often a bright band or strap accentuates the transition from the body of the hat to the brim, and a cloche hat may also be ornamented with ribbons, brooches, and other decorations, depending on the taste of the wearer.

Although many people associate cloches with the 1920s, these hats actually sprang onto the scene around 20 years earlier. They marked the beginning of a major shift in women's fashion, in which women started to wear more casual, sporty clothing rather than highly formal and ornate garments. A cloche is easy to wear well, requiring minimal effort and no struggles with hat pins and hair-dos, making it ideal for a fashionable women on the go.

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Flapper fashion of the 1920s included cloche hats, often paired with short, curly cuts which emphasized the design. The cloche endured throughout the 20th century, although its popularity experienced varying periods of waxing and waning. Traditionally, a cloche hat is made from felt, since felt can easily be pressed to be form fitting and it holds its shape well. However, cloches can be made from a wide variety of other materials as well, including silk and twill.

If you're interested in acquiring a cloche for yourself, your local hat store can probably oblige with pleasure. You should measure your head or try on a cloche before purchasing it, as the tight fit leaves little room for error, and an ill-fitting cloche hat is not a pleasant sight. A hat store can also help you pick out the ideal material, color, and decorations for a wide range of situations. Cloche hats are immensely useful for going out in the sun, since they protect your head and provide some shade for your eyes; they can also be quite warm and practical while also looking stylish, which can be convenient in cold climates.

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Wisedly33
Post 2

@Scrbblechick -- I never saw the charm in the cloche hat anyway. I always like the 40s and 50s hats better. I remember one that you used to see a lot. It was a fascinator style. It had a small cap for the top of the head, and two "lobes" on top. I always thought it looked like a valentine. The pageboy haircuts of the 40s suited that style so well.

Scrbblchick
Post 1

They used to say cloche hats look great on everyone. I'm obviously the exception. Cloche hats do not look good on me. Fedoras, yes; newsboys, yes. Cloches? Nope.

Even though I do wish hats were more in fashion, I am glad it's not the cloche. I look like a dork in a cloche hat.

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