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Friday, 8 November 2013

Sepia Saturday: Cloche Hats 1920's Style

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

For this week's theme, I have chosen CLOCHE HATS - the iconic symbol of the 1920's  and linked forever with the young flappers of the time.  

The hat  was  invented over a decade earlier in 1908 by French milliner designer Caroline Reboux who  named it  after the French for bell - cloche. 


What could be better than to wear the most fashionable style on your wedding day?  So here is my great aunt Jennie Danson in 1929.


The report in the local paper "The Blackpool Gazette" makes fascinating reading - not least for the fulsome journalistic style and descriptions of the dresses.

"A wedding of much local interest took place in the Poulton Parish Church on Saturday afternoon the bride being Miss Jennie Danson daughter of the late Mr and Mrs James Danson, Bull Street and the bridegroom Mr Beadnell Stemp, son of Mr and Mrs B. Stemp, Jubilee Lane, Marton.
The bride who was given away by her brother Mr R. Danson was stylishly gowned in French grey georgette, veiling silk to tone.  The bodice which was shaped to the figure was quite plain, with a spray of orange blossoms at the shoulder, while the skirt, which was ankle length, was composed entirely of five picot edged scalloped circular frills, and the long tight sleeves had circular picot edged frilled cuffs in harmony.  Her hat was of georgette to tone with uneven pointed dropping brim, having an eye veil of silver lace and floral mount.  She carried a bouquet of pink carnations with silver ribbon and horseshoe attached,...............

The newly married couple went to Chester where the honeymoon is being spent. The bride travelled in a dress of picky beige double georgette, the skirt which was circular scalloped, with coat of faced cloth to tone, with collar and cuffs in brown skunk fur.  Her hat had a drooping brim of brown felt, while the crown was made o ribbon in shades of orange, reseda and fawn." 
Another 1929 wedding - this time of my father's brother Fred Weston to Frances Green at L:eicster.  To the left of Fred is my grandmother Mary Barbara Weston, nee Matthews.  wearing a cloche hat.   

My husband's great aunt  Pat King, nee Hibbert of South Shields, County Durham posing in a fashionable outfit for a country walk - cloche hat, long bodice and long beads.
The formal engagement photograph of my husband's parents Ivy White and John Robert Donaldson of South Shields, County Durham.  They married in 1929.
Two pictures of little ones:
 Little Annette King. born 1919  - the daughter of Aunt Pat above,
A photograph from the collection of my great aunt Jennie.  On the back it is signed "From Mary, Charlie and Nannie Hardisty, Villa Farm, Bispham.  The photograph was taken by W.J. Gregson & co., W.P. Beck, Propreitor, photographers, 92 Talbot Road, Blackpool.

I traced the family in the 1911 census with Mary 26 years old, Charlie Alfred 24 and Nannie Ada 1 year old.
And what follows for fashion in hats?
At least it is practical for taking our dog Cass for a walk on a blustery day on the Isle of Iona!



  1. Little Annette King looks like a bell herself -- was there such a thing as a cloche dress? I have several pictures of my grandmother in cloche hats; they were the rage in Boston, too!

  2. I love the cloche hats. I have a pink, tweedy one for winter that I wear all the time. This was a really interesting take on the image, but as a hat-person, it suited me just fine.

  3. Cloche hats go well with short hair and I have two left over from when my hair was short and I was active in the Red Hat Society. But now my hair is long & they don't look so good with long hair, unfortunately. But they're still sitting in a hat box high on my closet shelf in case I cut my hair again! Nice take on the theme photo! :)

  4. Wow. We have some diverse takes on the theme photo this week.
    Loved your cloche hat photos. Fantastic collection.

  5. Love those cloches! And i imagine bathing on beaches doesn't have to much recommend it in Scotland :-)

  6. What a great take on the theme! I don't think I have any cloche hats in all my hundreds of photos - must go look harder.

  7. Some great photos here (think I may have seen a couple of them before?). The little girls are so cute in their hand knitted outfits and look very warm.

  8. Great interpretation of the theme. I love your photos of the fashions of the day.

  9. Our beanies are so funny aren't they, but always so warm to wear on those cold days. I was happy to read Deb's post of tripods, and I just knew someone would report on hats, as you did, with so many of my favorite hats too! I wish we all wore hats more around here, and not just baseball caps either. In America that seems to be the widely worn hat!

  10. I do have a lot of my mother and her family wearing cloches during that time. I wonder if that is the hat I need this winter. Might be perfect.

  11. Lovely wedding dress, hat and photo and the description does set it off...I admire hats but so seldom wear them, well cannot stand things on my head, but it would be a very easy way to deal with bad hair days....

  12. The description of the bride's stylish clothes was itself stylish.

  13. Well done Sue for going with the hats thread! Some fine examples of cloches and what an elegant wedding that was.

  14. Skunk fur? I must admit, that black and white fur is quite pretty, but I don't think I'd want to tell people I was wearing a skunk. Otherwise, the wedding attire was beautiful. I'd love to see that suit.

  15. Thank you to everyone for such lovely comments. You are right, Jo, beach scenes in Britain were never going to be my response to this prompt, though I have one or two photos as a child on holiday. I have featured the Jennie wedding photographs before, but the newspaper report is so hilarious in its descriptions, I thought it worth repeating. . .

  16. Your parade of ladies hats was splendid fun, especially the last one! Wedding reports with such detailed descriptions of fashion continue to baffle me.

  17. I've never seen a real cloche hat but it will soon be time to ditch my baseball cap and swap it for my beanie!


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