10 ways to 1920s style: part 2, the cloche hat

A cloche in the V&A's collection
The bob resurfaced in the 1960s, but the cloche (named from the French word for ‘bell’) really belongs to the 1920s. It’s resurfaced here and there, and more have been in the shops in recent years, but it’s never become the must-wear hat once again, and so it remains linked in most people’s minds to the 1920s.

A small, neat head was part of the 1920s look, so the cloche needs to be close-fitting over a non-bulky hairdo, and its popularity roughly parallels that of the bob. In the first few years of the 1920s, before short hair became a mainstream trend, hats still had brims and bore a closer resemblance to large, classically Edwardian-looking ones. (While they’re not the iconic 20s titfer, hats with brims weren’t uncommon throughout the decade.) Mid-decade hats were at their roundest and closest to the face, with the merest hint of a brim. Brims started to be folded back in the late 20s, showing the face better and paving the way for the smaller, more hair-reavealing hats of the 1930s.

It is possible to make your own cloche hat. I’ve got quite a small head, so even though cloche hats have been available in High Street shops in recent years, the ones available are too large for me, leaving with me a choice of buying vintage or making my own. I bought a set of PDFs of authentic 1920s hat designs from eVINTAGEpatterns on Etsy, but I’ve yet to sit down and make one. Some are fabric, and I also got a PDF of crocheted ones, with matching knitted scarves. (Isn’t it intriguing that the scarves and hats were designed as sets, but using two different crafts? Why not crochet a scarf? Why not knit a hat? I’d love to know the answer to that one!)

If you’re rich enough to afford a proper hat block, MacCulloch and Wallis make them to order, but for the cost of the block you can buy several vintage hats, which is what I’d probably do. Hat blocks are probably more for the commercial hatmaker!

If you can buy High Street hats, those are a good starting point for something more creative. Modern trimmings tend to be quite dull and uninspired. Take a look at photos and fashion drawings from the 1920s – it should be quick work to make removable trimmings that will enable you to give your hat a different look for several outfits.

 Don't miss 10 ways to 1920's style: part one, the bob


  1. I usually buy plain hats in the sales then use vintage trims - I find it a cheap way to get a unique and adjustable look.

    1. I'm planning to have a go at making a hat at some point, my tiny head doesn't fit high-street ones. (That said, old hats seem to fit me, so all those too-tiny vintage ones are miiiine!)


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