Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Cloche


There was a time in the not so dim and distant past when a well-heeled lady would  not step foot outside without handbag, lipstick, gloves and hat. These days, we still embrace certain aspects of this, but it's incredibly rare to walk down the street and see a woman decked out in all these items at once. Winter hats and gloves are excluded, because this bygone style isn't about keeping warm (except for possibly an exotic cigarette, as pictured above)...it's about the look.

In the 1920s, the wide-brimmed and expansive headwear of the 1900s gave way to the above close fitting syle: The Cloche. Not only did the silhouette of a woman's body change with the adoption of the dropped-waist style dress, but so too did hair, and consequently hats. 

Elaborate buns, knots and piles of long hair pinned extravangtly atop the head were chopped into the now famous bobs and crops of the period. The whole look was sleek, streamlined and strikingly severe. An arrogantly positioned Cloche hat added perfectly to this. Quite literally bell-shaped, they were made of soft materials like felt or fine straw so that they could be pulled right down onto the wearer's head. Brims, according to the slight changes in fashion during the period, were either worn down or turned up. Pulling the hat right down over the forehead meant that the wearer's eyes could rarely be seen, and thus adding mystery, appeal and a greater sense of femininity to a style that must have seemed a million miles away from the hourglass corsetry and embellishments that had gone before.

I confess that I don't do hats, (save for the ones I wear in winter) but the beautiful photograph above by George Hoyningen-Huene gives the Cloche a siren-song appeal that makes me wish I had a frivolous hat collection...

Image courtesy of Retrogasm.

7 comments:

  1. This photo is the perfect accompaniment to your excellent post on the cloche. I think the cloche is probably, my favorite hat. I have a hat head - meaning that I can wear any style, but the cloche is the one style that never looks good on me! So annoying.

    Catherine

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  2. I adore hats and I love the cloche, too. Such a stylish post. Enjoy the day!;-)

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  3. Hi Laura, I love that photo, it's really atmospheric and stylish. I wish hats did come back into fashion in a really big way as I love to wear them and think they just add the right bit of vavavoom to any outfit. Great post. Love from London x

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  4. Thank you for your lovely words, ladies! My mum always tells me that I have a hat head, and I love trying them on, but am never brave enough to buy! What I love about the Cloche is how enigmatic it makes the wearer, just like the mysterious and beautiful lady in the photograph. I envy you ladies your hat wearing skills. Maybe it's time to be brave and get one! x

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  5. This is a perfect cloche and one that I would wear, if it was mine! I have a slight obsession with hats, I love them, I wish they were still en vogue, they add so much style. Nowadays I mostly wear cycling helmet. Sadly - not the same.

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  6. Thanks, Laura, for your comment. Yes, you were most certainly one of the ones on my mind...as was our friend Polly.

    Best,
    Catherine

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  7. Polly, perhaps you could teach me your hat wearing secrets? I seem to remember a dim and distant blog post in which you wrote about a favourite red hat...am I right?!

    Catherine, you are most welcome. Your words never fail to get me thinking and wondering. Thank you a million times for being an inspiration...

    Laura x

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