Sleek, sophisticated and steeped in yesteryear chic, cloche hats have become a classic of women’s millinery. It’s their timeless beauty that has enabled them to transcend the caprices of fashion to offer millinery aplomb for over 100 years. While these fitted, bell-shaped hats have held a soigné fashion presence since their creation by milliner Caroline Reboux in 1908, and certainly reigned supreme during their heyday from 1922-1933, they have taken on a life of their own in recent years. Moreover, it’s a decidedly stylish life.
In fact, style is part of the appeal of the cloche, buoying its resurgence. This is in no small measure due to the popular influence of shows like “Downton Abbey.” With its exquisite period fashions, including cloche-style hats, it marvelously evokes the best of what designers of the era had to offer. Then, proffering the vintage charm of 1920s Australia, there is the intrepid Miss Fisher, detective extraordinaire. Her penchant for glamour extends to lavishly embellished cloches, an indulgence shared by other female characters in the eponymous television production of “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” Indeed, even “Gossip Girls” has been a style catalyst among contemporary women, with Leighton Meester’s character, Blair Waldorf, resplendent in cloches of all kinds.
Wherever the influences may have been derived, cloches are unequivocally among the hats of choice for fashionistas. That’s why, anywhere you shop, you are likely to find a variety of cloche hats for sale. What’s more, this wide array in types of cloche hats means that women who have an affinity for this design as well as those who simply enjoy expanding their hat collections, will find cloches to suit their every whim.
Vintage StyleThe woman whose signature style reflects fashions of another era always includes at least one cloche in her hat wardrobe. In fact, if her era of choice happens to be the 1920s, several cloches are in order. Clearly conjuring the aesthetic of that time, it’s a hat that complements the fashions of the period as well: chemise-style flapper dresses, dripping in fringe; dropped waist dresses with pleats, fringe, embroidery or other eye-catching details on the lower portion; trousers partnered with ultra-feminine blouses; yards of pearls; smooth, bobbed hair.
Putting a contemporary spin on this look, a cloche paired with just one fashion item from that period recalls the time in a thoroughly modern way. With bobbed hair and a cutting-edge dress, a cloche evokes the past while creating a decidedly new look. Likewise, coupling a cloche with jeans — a la Emma Stone, photographed traveling from Los Angeles to New York — and adding your own twist with long strands of pearls, that may or may not be real, winks playfully at that roaring era.
Summer SassinessHats designed in raffia or natural straw are summer staples. While wide-brim hats may spring to mind for summertime, when the hat is a cloche, it takes on a cool and chic aura unlike any other. Consider the nostalgic look of a raffia straw cloche, encircling the face in the most flattering way. Accompanying a long, flowing sundress, the total design is fabulousness made easy! Or sprinkle extra femininity on the monochromatic styling of white jeans and a ruffled white top, for instance, by adding crochet cloche hats in vivid summertime shades such as red or yellow. It’s casual charm at its best.
Winter WowWool felt shapes the wintertime cloche to perfection. Think of Angelina Jolie in the film “Changeling.” Replete with fur-collared coat and tan-colored cloche adorned with a brown ribbon and a flower beside the crown, her look is stunningly beautiful, rivaling anything worn by the “ladies who lunch,” decked out in their finest daytime ensembles. That’s the fashion power of a cloche.
To create your own wintertime look, consider the versatility of a simple wool knit cloche with a flower on the side. A style that is as striking with a little black dress as with pants and a winter coat, that single cloche could well become your go-to wintertime hat. Alternatively, a cloche rimmed in fur provides added warmth along with a good deal of style.
Wedding SplendorAttending events as gala as weddings calls for commensurately festive fashions. Somehow, regardless of the elegance of their dress or suit, women’s daytime wedding attire is instantly taken to a higher level by the addition of a hat. Moreover, selecting a cloche embellished with a glittering brooch, festooned with feathers or delicately embroidered in an elaborate pattern makes a captivating fashion statement. Sure, all eyes are on the bride during weddings, but many admiring glances are directed toward the dazzling women in cloche hats.
There’s one main reason cloches have endured in popularity: Their timeless beauty enhances that of the wearer.