History of the Cloche Hat

Hat Styles in The Early 1900s

1900's woman drawing with beautiful societal hats black and white pictures of three women with beautiful hats from the 1900s

In the early years of the 20th Century, women hats were very formal, voluminous, and elaborately decorated. Women tend to have high, equally intricate hairdos, and hats are fastened to the hairdo with hat pins. They often feature shallow, flat crowns, which make it impossible to wear at forehead level without crushing either the hairdo or the hat itself. These hats require a lot of care and maintenance. They limit mobility, thus the activities a woman could partake in.



Hat Styles in The 1910s

Black woman wearing a white dress and a cloche hat in the 1910stwo happy women wearing beautiful hats in the 1910ssketch representing women's hat styles in the 1910s

As the 20th Century begins, we see a trend emerging: women have an increasingly more active lifestyle, and fashion transits to more comfortable and simpler daily attire. 

What Does the Word cloche Mean, and Why is it used?

The word “cloche” hat first appeared in the early 1910s and is a term employed to describe women’s hats that feature a deep, soft, bell-shaped crown (cloche is the French word for a bell). The spacious crown would comfortably fit around an elaborate hairdo, eliminating the need for hat pins. Hats with such crowns were labeled as having a cloche style, however brims were still quite large.

When Did the Cloche Hat First Appear? 

black and white portrait of Caroline Reboux wearing a beautiful hatA lady in profile with a beautiful cloche hat adorned with flowers

The earliest example of what we would consider today an authentic cloche hat could be found in France. It was made by the world-renown milliner Caroline Reboux, who since 1860 has been an internationally celebrated milliner who would design headwear for the crowned heads of Europe in her workshop located on Place de l’Opera in Paris. Her elegant, minimalistic, and practical design offered comfort and style, and provided a canvas for endless creativity, as cloche hats could be decorated in elaborate fashion. 


The cloche hat, the essential of the 20s

The cloche hat is one of the first icons we think of when we picture ourselves in the 1920s, along with tweed caps, boater hats, three-piece suits, champagne, grandiose parties, and art-deco. The style had gained traction, and was worn by the humblest working-class women to the most glamorous stars of the silver screen. The short-brimmed cloche hat, which was crystallized as the canonical shape, was particularly suited to short hairstyles

woman in group in the twenties wearing beautiful dresses and cloche hats

Actresses, signers, socialites, writers, and thinkers alike, all enjoyed the comfort provided by the cloche hat. It quickly rose to prominence in fashion all around the western world, and while it eventually had to compete with newer hat styles, none ever replaced it as the most worn women’s hat. All hat styles that came after were either trying to reinvent the cloche, or were compared to it.


Can We Still Wear a Cloche Hat Nowadays? 

cloche hatnanni paperbraid hatnanni hat

As the 20th Century enters its own twenties, we at Henri Henri have witnessed how the cycle of fashion projects its gaze towards past trends, and 1920s formal and casual fashion trends have enjoyed a sort of renaissance for the past 10 years. The cloche hat is once again to the forefront, and many women choose the cloche hat to complement their summer and winter outfits. This timeless and universal style provides a touch of vintage feminine sophistication. Come to the Henri Henri hat store today, or browse our online store with fast shipping across Canada and the United States to discover our selection of cloche hats!

Francis Bissonnette-Gilker
28 Apr 2024
Bill Sayer
Uh, 21st century!
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