Hat Types: The Cloche

Cloche | Royal Hats

History: Invented by milliner Caroline Reboux in 1908, cloche hats became a popular fashion accessory during the 1920s and early 1930s. The name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. The cloche enjoyed a resurgence in the spotlight during the the 1960s and has recently come back in vogue, thanks to popular British TV show ‘Downton Abbey’.  

Characteristics: A fitted, bell-shaped hat that conforms to the head. Cloche hats are worn low on the forehead, with the wearer’s eyes only slightly below the brim

Royals Associated with this Hat Style: During the late 1920s and 30s, the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother wore many hats in this style.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth also embraced this hat shape in the late 1970s. Today, we see cloche hats most on Queen Silvia and Queen Sonja, although they pop up occasionally on other royal heads.


Queen Maxima, April 2003; Queen Sonja, October 2010; Queen Elizabeth,1976; Tatiana Santo Domingo, July 2011;


Queen Silvia in April 2017, August 2012, January 2018 and May 2007

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Viscountess Linley, June 1998; Zara Phillips March 2003; Princess Caroline, Nov. 2007; Zara Phillips, March 2010 


Queen Elizabeth,1976;  Grand Duchess Maria Teresa Mar 2012;
Queen Sonja June 2010; Princess Alexandra, Dec 2012 

While the cloche is a relatively simple shape of hat, I think it is one of the most difficult hats to wear. Not everyone looks good in a hat worn so closely to the head and the low brim of a cloche does not lend itself well to royal life (a life that is all about being seen). That is probably why we don’t see it worn very much. What do you think of the cloche?

Photos from: Michel Porro and isifa via Getty; Rex Features; Bauer Griffin; Michael Campanella via Getty; Mikael Fritzon via ANP; Johan Jeppsson/IBL; Hans E.Ericson/IBL; Anwar Hussein via Getty; Corbis; Corbis;Jean-Claude Ernst  

17 thoughts on “Hat Types: The Cloche

  1. Cloche hats should remain in the 1920’s where they belong. In addition to most of the of the royal ladies pictured, I also tend to look like an escapee from the local Cuckoo’s Nest.

  2. I love this style of hat, but I agree it is very difficult to wear. Hair is a big consideration. If you have long hair and leave it flowing it is all mashed around your face. If you try to put it up, you interfere with the line of the hat. Probably why it worked in the 20s best with everyone shingling and marcel-waving their hair!

  3. If not careful, this type of hat could look like a disguised army helmet, or even a bonnet. Some, though, can look very nice and are worth the effort. Hatqueen is right in stressing the difficulty of this style.

  4. I love the style but understand the difficulties posed for a royal wearer, perhaps best illustrated by Queens Silvia and Sonya above–in an effort to be seen the hats are worn too high and make them look like an old fashioned London bobbies hat. The style received no help from either Viscountess Linley or Princess Mabel’s attempt either come to think of it.

  5. Some of these are spoiled by raggedy hair something which has never been a concern with Queen Elizabeth although it still isn’t my favourite shape for her. For me, long hair as with Beatrice or thick hair as with Silvia spoil the close to the face look of a cloche. In my experience too a cloche can throw dark shadows on the face and requires good attention to makeup to avoid looking tired and drawn. I agree that the cloche style looks particularly good on the Queen Mother and Zara Phillips.

      • I wondered about that, too… but all the papers described it as a cloche, and if I read it on the internet it Must be true, not so?!!!!

        • If you look closely, there’s a faint seam. I think what makes a cloche a cloche is the characteristic bell shape. The Queen Mum’s hat probably is not the best example, although there is a slight flare out at the bottom. Princess Beatrice’s hat does not have that bell shape at the bottom.

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