Vintage flapper hats
Vintage flapper hats are hats in a particular style worn by fashionable young women during the 1920s. Although the style itself is referred to as the ‘flapper’ style, the hats worn are known as ‘cloche hats’.
History and background
The term ‘flapper’ was used to describe a generation of independant young women who were influenced by changing social attitudes and modernity during the 1920s. They were famous for frequenting jazz clubs and speakeasys during Prohibition, along with smoking, drinking and a casual attitude to sex. Their appearance was characterised by short skirts and short, bobbed haircuts, and their attitudes and behaviour such as the use of numerous slang terms signalled a change from the role of women prior to the First World War.
The term ‘flapper’ itself came into use in 1920, following the release of the popular U.S film ‘The Flapper’, starring Olive Thomas. In the film Thomas’ character displayed the archetypes that soon came to represent a generation of ‘flapper girls’.
History of the cloche hat
During this period a style of hat known as the cloche was the most popular, and is perhaps one of the most recognisable and iconic designs of 1920s fashion. The style was created by the French milliner and designer Caroline Reboux in 1908.
Cloche hats were close-fitting, and worn low on the head down to the eyebrow line. They appeared both with and without a small brim, and could be decorated with beads, feathers, scarves and brooches. The most common material used was felt, but examples made from straw or sisal were often worn during the summer months.
The cloche style remained popular and almost omni-present in women’s fashion until the early 1930s, when economic and social depression brought about the end of the hedonism of the ‘flapper’ generation.
Collecting flapper hats
‘Flapper’ hats or cloche hats are highly popular with vintage fashion collectors, but prices for original hats depend heavily on the designer or fashion house that created them. Good condition 1920s cloche hats can be found in vintage clothing stores or on sites such as eBay for less than $50, but prices can rise if the hat in question has a famous label.
Designers and couture houses to look out for include Coco Chanel, Molyneux and Lanvin, along with milliners such as Madame Agnes and Suzanne Talbot. Original 1920s hats from notable designers of the period are sought after in the same manner as vintage designer clothing, and can sell for thousands of dollars.
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