Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hats Off to the Roaring 20's! - A Special Guest Post from Cyndy

A big thanks to Cyndy for writing this very interesting post

Let's go back in time to the flapper era of the Roaring 20's!

As an avid vintage hat collector, restorer and hairstylist I find this era to be exciting, sultry, and dramatic.

Milliners offered their gorgeous creation, "The Flapper Cloche", which was first created in 1908. This had a helmet-like appearance. It became the iconic hat of the 1920's. The hat was worn correctly by pulling it over eyes and fitting it snugly. The body of the hat was primarily felt, and the summer cloche was primarily made with sisal, a fine straw. They cloche was embellished by varnishing for a shiny appearance , and by adding raffia or gorgeous ribbon . When the hat needed a revamping, it was frequently painted.

Normally the appliques or other adornments were applied to one side only. Glorious "feather fans" fell to one side , usually the right. Glimmering trimmings such as diamond clips, platinum and diamond brooches were worn by the the prosperous and stylish on their cloches.
Casual brimmed felt cloches were combined with stylish day wear for a day at the beach , sporting events and offered a neat and tidy look.

Many cloche hats were influenced by the art deco movement, and had gorgeous appliques and zigzag seaming The crowns often included a beret-like top, or a bell top (bulbous crown). which made the wearer appear taller.

In 1922, a cloche with a small brim at the front was introduced. In 1926,a new design featured a reduced brim, and by 1928, it had disappeared.

The acceptability of the harsh, dramatic style of the cloche was enhanced by the use of sophisticated, chic makeup and self-assured hairstyles. One would often see a woman in public places such as a restaurant or dance hall open her glamorous compact and touch up her makeup. I believe that this was a new symbol of refinement and feminine grace. A luscious ox blood red lipstick with only a hint of rouge was an absolute, must, and the hair was cropped short to accommodate the close fitting cloches, which were a statement of the "new woman". By 1923, the bob, a pageboy style with a bit of length, was seen everywhere, The razor cut shingle style began in 1924.

The Marcel wave and the finger wave (which I learned and are quite time consuming and challenging) began in the mid-20's. These waves became the "norm" and helped conform to the contour of the cloches. The Eton crop, introduced in 1927,was the most extreme hairstyle. Hair was greased, slicked and had a brilliant sheen. A particularly lovely example of this style was that worn by the great singer and dancer Josephine Baker. I've included some photographs and music of Ms. Baker for your enjoyment,.

One of my other loves is the music of the 20's. I shall let the videos of fashion and music take you on a marvelous journey. You also might want to rise up from your chair and do the new low down !

By late 1928 women wanted to rid of the cloche and show their hair and facial features to the world. That would open a whole new world of hats, hairstyles and makeup which would lead me to the 1930's and another blog post.

Many thanks Bob for inviting me to share my love of vintage hats and hairstyles ! This is my very first blog post and I truly enjoyed every moment !

Here are several pictures of cloches. First, the brimless cloche.

The bell-shaped cloche.
The beaded, embellished cloche.

Two clips of Josephine Baker:

Two short flapper films.

Louis Armstrong's great "Muskrat Ramble"


  1. Really enjoyed the article.Very well written
    and interesting.
    Kool pix and music !!!

  2. Thanks James :>) appreciate your comments !

  3. Very enjoyable, Cyndy!!! Thanks!! Here's something I posted over at Facebook for you and Bob. They show old movies at this theater (The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles). It definitely fit in with your post about the 20s...perfect


    We've just confirmed the
    master film accompaniest Robert Israel to play with our screening of IT
    starring Clara Bow on Sunday. The film is at 3 PM following a lecture on
    the scandalous Bob hairstyle that came into fashion in the 1920s when
    women started shedding hair, long skirts, bustles, you name it - they
    shed it.

    All guests are subject to availability.

  4. :>) Thanks Judy !
    Clara Bow was wonderful !

  5. a beautiful era.x

  6. Great article!

  7. Recently had to do an essay in my American History class comparing women of the 1920's to the women of the 1950's. My knowledge of fashion helped me well, I was the only person to mention Clara Bow. SCORE!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Interesting and enjoyable post! Too bad the idiot in front of me had to intrude with his annoying spam!

  10. The cloches are beautiful and 20's are back ;)
    Happy 2012