With the popularity of period pieces set in the 1920s, we've seen a resurgence in Cloche Curiosity, and while often the charm of these classic hats is cause of immediate joy, the question we get a lot almost immediately after is: "But where would I wear this?"
Thankfully you can rest assured we're not trying to pull something on you when our answer is anywhere! Cloches were traditionally a popular every day style, and they continue to be. So whether you're going out to a croquet match, a picnic, or even just strolling around during a day trip (or as some of our staff joke: the grocery store), the cloche is there for you.
That said, let's go over some quick cloche basics to help you decide if this is the hat for you!
Cloche hats are named after their shape--"bell." Now, because of this, the rounded crown is meant to hug and sit lower on your head than how other brimmed hats like a fedora or safari brim may. It's not uncommon to feel like you're a bit closed in wearing them, and depending on the brim shape, they're handy in keeping your ears shielded from any chilly breeze to boot without the compressing knit beanies do.
This bell shape, however, can sometimes make it hard to discern where the front of the hat actually is. Thankfully, milliners help us out with that and will normally include a little bow on the inside inner band, usually amidst the labels to dictate where the back of the hat is per their design. When in doubt, look for that bow!
What about sizing? Well, this is where it can get a bit tricky. Due to the fact that most of our cloches are made on vintage blocks, they will predominantly come as a OSFM, or One Size Fits Most. For ladies, that means the hats will fit at about a Medium, or a 7. If you're unsure about your size, check out our Size Guide to help you out.
The materials a cloche will come in will, like any hat, vary by season. For the fall and winter, felted wools and furs will be the norm to keep you warm and stylish, whereas during the spring and summer, they'll come in a variety of straws, linens and cottons. A perfect example of this range in material between the seasons is the Belfry Gioia and the Belfry Dafne. Same shape, just seasonally appropriate materials for their respective seasons!
The trim, or the ribbons and adornment may make some dressier than others, but you can still add on hat pins or other adornments to dress up a more plain style if you want the ability to keep a hat flexible.
Now--on to style!
Symmetrical, or Asymmetrical Brim?
If you prefer to have a hat whose brim really hugs your face, the more symmetrical shapes are best. They'll also give you the most coverage in the cooler months and tend to give a more romantic, vintage vibe.
Asymmetrical brims are all about framing the face but in a more open fashion--and with a bit of sass, to boot! If you wear glasses or sunglasses, these will likely be the more comfortable fit, and they look really nice on pretty much everyone. Check out our Belfry Ginny for a prime example of how these brims work.
How to Wear a Cloche Hat with Short or Long Hair
Now, due to its shape and the way it sits, the cloche actually does have a bit of swivel on the head to wear it more forward and down, or rocked back to reveal more of your face and brow if you so choose. We get a fair amount of ladies with shorter hairstyles who worry they'll look strange in the cloche style, but the simple solution to that is to wear it slightly rocked back on the head to show off your bangs or fringe.
Bobbed cuts themselves were practically made for this style of hat, and for longer styles to the shoulders and beyond, play with how the hat and hair work together--if you want to showcase the hat more, maybe bind your hair in a low ponytail or braid, or if you want the hat to be more of an accessory, let it frame the way your hair tumbles at your shoulders. If you envy the bobbed hair cut look but don't want to sacrifice hair for a hat, do what ladies did back in the 1920s and pin it up to mimic a bob instead!
Give yourself the benefit of playing with the cloche no matter the length of your hair, and you'll find what you deem the most comfortable and "you" easily enough.
Okay, But What to Wear Cloches With?
Cute everyday dresses, belted coats, a blouse or sweater and jeans... pretty much anything you want to give that extra romantic touch to, honestly, save maybe a graphic t-shirt and cargo shorts, but we've known folks who will somehow make things work! Magic, we tell you--pure, hatty magic!
Just remember: your hat is like a piece of jewelry--an accessory. It's part of the whole look. You just have to want to wear the hat, and the rest falls into place!