I find I have suddenly become quite obsessed by hats as I look through some photographs of my grandmother and her sisters. I only knew Nannie (Annie Cleeve) in her later years, so ‘fashion’ wasn’t a word I associated with her. Sorry Nannie!
But as I look back, it seems the Cleeve girls were very fashion conscious and kept up with the latest trends. There were two older sisters, Edith and Rose, but it is the youngest three sisters I have been focussing on. These are the photographs that I have been looking at.
I then zoomed in on the hats!
I looked online, consulted experts (thanks to Genealogylady.net) and was directed towards Sears catalogues for 1931. I had a great time searching the catalogues trying to find the hats. I found they were actually called ‘The French Beret’ and the Cleeve sisters were bang on trend with them in that year. On retrochick.co.uk it explains that “from the early 1920s the beret became popular as sportswear and were worn pulled down over the ears – echoing the cloche hat style. From the 1930s it became more popular to wear them perched on the side of the head.”
Here is the page I found from the Spring 1931 Sears catalogue.
The other thing that puzzles me and I guess I’ll never know, is what colour were the berets they are wearing? In the catalogue, the choice of colours is from; French Beige, Admiralty (navy) Blue, Copenhagen Blue, Pistachio (light green), Sea Sand, Rose Romantique (pink) or Maize (yellow).
The only other reference to the beret in the Cleeve family comes from Dora (Edith Dora Doswell) Edith’s daughter. This is another thing that hadn’t really occurred to me before – Dora was born in 1908, when Grace would have been 8 years old, Olive 10 and Annie 16. So Dora would have been closer to her aunts age, and I have some photos of her.
Dora is more fashionable, wearing her beret perched on the side of her head (slightly) pulled down over one ear.
I also have another photograph of Olive Cleeve taken in a studio. Still wearing the fashionable French beret. Still not wearing it perched on one side!
I then found a photograph from 1935, which shows Nancy (Annie’s daughter) who would have been about fifteen years of age wearing one of the fashionable French berets. And what do you know? She has it perched on one side of her head, pulled down over her ear!
This is the photo, I have zoomed in and you can see Nancy with her brother Gordon (my father) and their father, Joseph Taylor Dinnis.
Anyone familiar with Brighton and Hove will know where this photo was taken, and I will reveal more in my next post.