HOME

TheInfoList




A top hat (also called a high hat, a cylinder hat, or a topper) is a tall, flat-crowned
hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safet ...

hat
for men traditionally associated with
formal wear Formal wear or full dress is the Western dress code Western dress codes are dress codes in Western culture about what clothes are worn for what occasion. Classifications are traditionally divided into formal wear (''full dress''), semi-formal ...
in
Western dress codes Western dress codes are dress codes in Western culture about what clothes are worn for what occasion. Classifications are divided into formal wear (''full dress''), semi-formal wear (''half dress''), and informal wear (''undress''). Anything belo ...
, meaning
white tie White tie, also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal wear, formal in traditional evening western dress codes. For men, it consists of a black tailcoat#Dress coat, tail coat (alternatively referred to as a dress coat, usua ...
,
morning dress Morning dress, also known as ''formal day dress'', is the formal Western dress code for day attire, consisting chiefly of, for men, a morning coat A tailcoat is a knee-length coat characterised by a rear section of the skirt, known as the '' ...
, or
frock coat A frock coat is a formal Formal, formality, informal or informality imply the complying with, or not complying with, some set theory, set of requirements (substantial form, forms, in Ancient Greek). They may refer to: Dress code and events * F ...

frock coat
. Traditionally made of black
silk Silk is a natural fiber, natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be weaving, woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoon (silk), cocoons. The be ...

silk
or sometimes grey, the top hat emerged in
Western fashion Image:1794-1887-Fashion-overview-Alfred-Roller.GIF, 150px, Summary of women's fashion silhouet changes 1794-1887 The following is a chronological list of articles covering the history of Western fashion—the story of the changing fashions in cloth ...
by the end of the 18th century. Although it declined by the time of the
counterculture of the 1960s The counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment An anti-establishment view or belief is one which stands in opposition to the conventional social, political, and economic principles of a society. The term was first used in the mo ...
, it remains a formal
fashion accessory Burberry-brand handbag A fashion Fashion is a form of self-expression, at a particular period and place and in a specific context, of clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes ...
. A collapsible variant of a top hat, developed in the 19th century, is known as an
opera hat An opera hat, also called a chapeau claque or gibus, is a top hat variant that is collapsible through a Spring (device), spring system, originally intended for less spacious venues, such as the Theater (structure), theatre and opera house. Typical ...
. Perhaps inspired by the
Early Modern era The early modern period of follows the of the . Although the chronological limits of this period are open to debate, the spans the period after the late post-classical or Middle Ages (c. 1400–1500) through the beginning of the (c. 1800). ...
capotain 150px, Woman in a Capotain by Nicholas Hilliard, 1602 A capotain, capatain or copotain is a tall-crowned, narrow-brimmed, slightly conical "sugarloaf" hat, usually black, worn by men and women from the 1590s into the mid-seventeenth century in Engl ...
, higher crowned dark felt hats with wide brims emerged as a country leisurewear fashion along with the
Age of Revolution The Age of Revolution is a period from the late 18th to the mid-19th centuries in which a number of significant revolutionary movements occurred in most of Europe and the Americas. The period is noted for the change from Absolutism (European h ...
around the 1770s. Around the 1780s, the
justaucorps A justacorps or justaucorps () is a long, knee-length coat worn by men in the latter half of the 17th century and throughout the 18th century. The garment is of French origin, and was introduced in England as a component of a three-piece ensemble ...
was replaced by the previously casual
frock Frock has been used since as the name for an article of , typically -like, for men and women. Terminology In and in countries the word may be used as an alternative term for a girl's or woman's . In it is frequently used this way, with th ...
s and
dress coat A tailcoat is a knee-length coat A coat is a clothing, garment worn on the upper body by either gender for warmth or fashion. Coats typically have long sleeves and are open down the front, closing by means of Button (clothing), buttons, zippers ...
s. At the same time, the
tricorne The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800, though actually not called a "tricorne" until the mid-19th century. During the 18th century, hats of this general style were referre ...

tricorne
and bicorne hats were replaced by what became known as the top hat. By the 1790s, the
directoire style Directoire style () was a period in the decorative arts, fashion, and especially furniture design in France concurrent with the Directory Directory may refer to: * Directory (computing), or folder, a file system structure in which to store comp ...
dress coat with top hat was widely introduced as citywear for the upper and
middle class The middle class is a class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an an ...
es in all urban areas of the Western world. The justaucorps was replaced in all but the most formal court affairs. Around the turn of the 19th century, although for a few decades
beaver hat A beaver hat is a hat made from felt Felt is a textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking network of yarns or thread (yarn), threads, which are produced by spinning (textiles), spinning raw fibres (from ...
s were popular, black
silk Silk is a natural fiber, natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be weaving, woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoon (silk), cocoons. The be ...

silk
became the standard, sometimes varied by grey ones. While the dress coats were replaced by the
frock coat A frock coat is a formal Formal, formality, informal or informality imply the complying with, or not complying with, some set theory, set of requirements (substantial form, forms, in Ancient Greek). They may refer to: Dress code and events * F ...

frock coat
from the 1840s as conventional formal daywear, top hats continued to be worn with frock coats as well as with what became known as formal evening wear
white tie White tie, also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal wear, formal in traditional evening western dress codes. For men, it consists of a black tailcoat#Dress coat, tail coat (alternatively referred to as a dress coat, usua ...
. Towards the end of the 19th century, whereas the white tie with black dress coat remained fixed, frock coats were gradually replaced by
morning dress Morning dress, also known as ''formal day dress'', is the formal Western dress code for day attire, consisting chiefly of, for men, a morning coat A tailcoat is a knee-length coat characterised by a rear section of the skirt, known as the '' ...
, along with top hats. After
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, the 1920s saw widespread introduction of
semi-formal Semi-formal wear or half dress is a grouping of dress codes indicating the sort of clothes worn to events with a level of formality between informal wear and formal wear. In the modern era, the typical interpretation for men is black tie Bla ...
black tie Black tie is a semi-formal Semi-formal wear or half dress is a grouping of dress codes indicating the sort of clothes worn to events with a level of formality between informal wear and formal wear. In the modern era, the typical interpretati ...
and
informal wear Informal wear or undress, also called business wear, corporate/office wear, tenue de ville or dress clothes, is a Western dress codes, Western dress code for clothing defined by a business suit for men, and cocktail dress or pant suit for wome ...
suit A suit or lounge suit is a set of clothes comprising a suit jacket and trousers of identical textiles worn with a collared dress shirt, necktie, and dress shoes. It is considered informal wear in Western dress codes. The lounge suit originated ...

suit
s that were worn with less formal hats such as
bowler hat The bowler hat, also known as a billycock, bob hat, bombín (Spanish) or derby (United States), is a hard felt hat with a rounded crown, originally created by the London hat-makers Thomas and William Bowler in 1849. It has traditionally been worn ...

bowler hat
s, homburgs, boaters and
fedora A fedora is a hat with a soft brim and indented crown.Kilgour, Ruth Edwards (1958). ''A Pageant of Hats Ancient and Modern''. R. M. McBride Company. It is typically creased lengthwise down the crown and "pinched" near the front on both sides. F ...

fedora
s respectively, in established society. After
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, white tie, morning dress and frock coats along with their counterpart, the top hat, started to become confined to high society,
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

politics
and international
diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, negotiation, and other nonviolent means. Diplomacy usually refers to international relations carried out through the inte ...

diplomacy
. The last
United States presidential inauguration ) The inauguration of the president of the United States is a ceremony to mark the commencement of a new four-year term of the president of the United States. During this ceremony, some 72 to 78 days after the United States presidential electio ...
s with top hat was the
inauguration of John F. Kennedy The inauguration of John F. Kennedy as the 35th President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Federal gover ...
in 1961. Following the
counterculture of the 1960s The counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment An anti-establishment view or belief is one which stands in opposition to the conventional social, political, and economic principles of a society. The term was first used in the mo ...
, its use declined further along with the disuse also of daily informal hats by men. Yet, along with traditional formal wear, the top hat continues to be applicable for the most formal occasions, including
wedding A wedding is a ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gesture A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication or non-vocal communication Communication (from Latin ''communic ...

wedding
s and
funeral A funeral is a ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed in a sequestered place and according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the ...

funeral
s, in addition to certain
audiences An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a , (in which they are called "readers"), , (in which they are called "listeners"), (in which they are called "players"), or academics in any medium. Audience members p ...
,
balls A ball A ball is a round object (usually spherical, but can sometimes be ovoid An oval (from Latin ''ovum'', "egg") is a closed curve in a plane which resembles the outline of an egg. The term is not very specific, but in some areas ( p ...
and
horse racing Horse racing is an equestrianism, equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys (or sometimes driven without riders) over a set distance, for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, ...

horse racing
events, such as the Royal Enclosure at
Royal Ascot Ascot Racecourse ("ascot" pronounced , often pronounced ) is a dual-purpose British racecourse, located in Ascot, Berkshire Ascot () is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller t ...
and the Queen's Stand of
Epsom Derby The Derby Stakes, also known as the Epsom Derby or the Derby, and as the Cazoo Derby for sponsorship reasons, is a Group 1Group 1 may refer to: * Alkali metal, a chemical element classification for Alkali metal * Group 1 (racing), a historic ...
. It also remains part of the formal dress of those occupying prominent positions in certain traditional British institutions, such as the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

Bank of England
, certain
City A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a ...

City
stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange Exchange may refer to: Places United States * Exchange, Indiana Exchange is an Unincorporated area, unincorporated community in Green Township, Morgan County, Indiana, Green To ...
officials, occasionally at the
Law Courts A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, govern ...

Law Courts
and
Lincoln's Inn The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are Call to the Bar, called to the Bar. (The other three are Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray' ...

Lincoln's Inn
, judges of the Chancery Division and
Queen's Counsel In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some pr ...
, boy-choristers of King's College Choir,
dressage Dressage ( or ; a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training") is a form of horse riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an art sometimes pursued solely for the sake of mastery. As an equestrian The word equestr ...
horseback riders, and
servant A domestic worker is a person who works within the scope of a residence. The term "domestic service" applies to the equivalent occupational category. In traditional English contexts, such a person was said to be "in service". Domestic workers per ...

servant
s' or doormen's
livery A livery is a uniform, insignia or symbol adorning, in a non-military context, a person, an object or a vehicle that denotes a relationship between the wearer of the livery and an individual or corporate body. Often, elements of the heraldry He ...
. As part of traditional formal wear, in
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
the top hat has sometimes been associated with the upper class, and used by satirists and
social critic Social criticism is a form of Academic or journalistic criticism focusing on sociological issues in contemporary society, in particular with respect to perceived injustices and Power (social and political), power relations in general. It often re ...
s as a symbol of
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

capitalism
or the world of
business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit." Having a business name A trad ...

business
, as with the Monopoly Man or
Scrooge McDuck Scrooge McDuck is a cartoon character In fiction, a character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, Play (theatre), play, television series, film, or video game). The character ma ...
. The top hat also forms part of the traditional dress of
Uncle Sam Uncle Sam (which has the same initials as ''United States'') is a common national personification of the federal government of the United States or the country in general that, according to legend, came into use during the War of 1812 and was ...

Uncle Sam
, a symbol of the United States, generally striped in red, white and blue. Furthermore, ever since the famous "Pulling a Rabbit out of a Hat" of
Louis ComteLouis Apollinaire Christien Emmanuel Comte "The King's Conjurer" (born Geneva, June 22, 1788 – Rueil, November 25, 1859), also known simply as Comte, was a celebrated nineteenth-century Parisian magician, greatly admired by Robert-Houdin. File:Par ...
in 1814, the top hat remains associated with
hat tricks A hat-trick or hat trick is the achievement of a generally positive feat three times in a game, or another achievement based on the number three. Origin The term first appeared in 1858 in cricket, to describe H. H. Stephenson taking three Wick ...
and
stage magic Magic, which encompasses the subgenres of illusion, stage magic, and close up magic, among others, is a performing art in which audiences are entertainment, entertained by tricks, effects, or illusions of seemingly impossible feats, using natur ...
costumes.


Name

The top hat is also known as a ''beaver hat'' or ''silk hat'', in reference to its material, as well as casually as ''chimney pot hat'' or ''stove pipe hat''.


History

According to fashion historians, the top hat may have descended directly from the sugarloaf hat; otherwise it is difficult to establish provenance for its creation. Gentlemen began to replace the
tricorne The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800, though actually not called a "tricorne" until the mid-19th century. During the 18th century, hats of this general style were referre ...

tricorne
with the top hat at the end of the 18th century; a painting by Charles Vernet of 1796, ''Un Incroyable'', shows a French
dandy A dandy, historically, is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of self. A dandy could be a self-made man who strove to im ...

dandy
(one of the '' Incroyables et Merveilleuses'') with such a hat. The first silk top hat in England is credited to George Dunnage, a hatter from Middlesex, in 1793. The invention of the top hat is often erroneously credited to a
haberdasher In British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has ...
named John Hetherington. Within 30 years top hats had become popular with all social classes, with even workmen wearing them. At that time those worn by members of the upper classes were usually made of
felt Felt is a textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, ...
ed beaver fur; the generic name "stuff hat" was applied to hats made from various non-fur felts. The hats became part of the uniforms worn by policemen and postmen (to give them the appearance of authority); since these people spent most of their time outdoors, their hats were topped with black
oilcloth Oilcloth, also known as enameled cloth or American cloth, is close-woven cotton duck Cotton duck (from nl, doek, "linen Linen () is a textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking network of yarns or thr ...

oilcloth
.


19th century

Between the latter part of 18th century and the early part of the 19th century, felted beaver fur was slowly replaced by silk "hatter's plush", though the silk topper met with resistance from those who preferred the beaver hat. The 1840s and the 1850s saw it reach its most extreme form, with ever-higher crowns and narrow brims. The ''stovepipe hat'' was a variety with mostly straight sides, while one with slightly convex sides was called the "chimney pot". The style most commonly referred to as the stovepipe was popularized in the United States by
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
during his presidency; though it is postulated that he may never have called it stovepipe himself, but merely a silk hat or a plug hat. It is said that Lincoln would keep important letters inside the hat. One of Lincoln's top hats is kept on display at the
National Museum of American History The National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center collects, preserves, and displays the heritage of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or Ame ...

National Museum of American History
in Washington, DC. During the 19th century, the top hat developed from a fashion into a symbol of urban respectability, and this was assured when
Prince Albert Prince Albert most commonly refers to: *Albert, Prince Consort german: link=no, Franz Albert August Karl Emanuel , house = , father = Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , mother = Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenbu ...

Prince Albert
started wearing them in 1850; the rise in popularity of the silk plush top hat possibly led to a decline in beaver hats, sharply reducing the size of the beaver trapping industry in North America, though it is also postulated that the beaver numbers were also reducing at the same time. Whether it directly affected or was coincidental to the decline of the beaver trade is debatable.
James Laver James Laver, Order of the British Empire, CBE, FRSA (14 March 1899 – 3 June 1975) was an English author, critic, art historian, and museum curator who acted as Keeper of Prints, Drawings and Paintings for the Victoria and Albert Museum between ...
once observed that an assemblage of "toppers" resembled factory chimneys and thus added to the mood of the industrial era. In England, post- Brummel dandies went in for flared crowns and swooping brims. Their counterparts in France, known as the " Incroyables", wore top hats of such outlandish dimensions that there was no room for them in overcrowded cloakrooms until the invention of the collapsible top hat.


20th century

Until
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
the top hat was maintained as a standard item of formal outdoor wear by upper-class males for both daytime and evening usage. Considerations of convenience and expense meant however that it was increasingly superseded by soft hats for ordinary wear. By the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, it had become a comparative rarity, though it continued to be worn regularly in certain roles. In Britain these included holders of various positions in the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

Bank of England
and City stockbroking, and boys at some public schools. All the civilian members of the Japanese delegation that signed the
Japanese Instrument of Surrender The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was the written agreement that formalized the surrender of the Empire of Japan, marking the end of hostilities in World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or ...
on 2 September 1945, wore top hats, reflecting common diplomatic practice at the time. The top hat persisted in
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

politics
and international
diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, negotiation, and other nonviolent means. Diplomacy usually refers to international relations carried out through the inte ...

diplomacy
for many years. In the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
, there was debate as to whether its diplomats should follow the international conventions and wear a top hat. Instead a
diplomatic uniform Diplomatic uniforms are ornate uniform A uniform is a variety of clothing A kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing ...
with peaked cap for formal occasions was adopted. Top hats were part of formal wear for U.S. presidential inaugurations for many years. President
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. In its broadest sense, the term " ...
spurned the hat for his inauguration, but John F. Kennedy, who was accustomed to formal dress, brought it back for his in 1961. Ironically, Kennedy delivered his forceful inaugural address hatless, reinforcing the image of vigor he desired to project, and setting the tone for an active administration to follow. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, did not wear a top hat for any part of his inauguration in 1965, and the hat has not been worn since for this purpose. In the United Kingdom, the post of Government Broker in the
London Stock Exchange London Stock Exchange (LSE) is a stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange Exchange may refer to: Places United States * Exchange, Indiana Exchange is an Unincorporated area, unincorporated community ...
that required the wearing of a top hat in the streets of the
City of London The City of London is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It ...

City of London
was abolished by the "
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...
" reforms of October 1986. In the
British House of Commons The House of Commons (domestically known as the Commons) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizon ...
, a rule requiring a
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) ...
who wished to raise a
point of order In parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the accepted rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, m ...
during a
division Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication *Division algorithm, a method for computing the result of mathematical division Military *Division (military), a formation typically consisting o ...
, having to speak seated with a top hat on, was abolished in 1998. Spare top hats were kept in the chamber in case they were needed. The Modernisation Select Committee commented that "This particular practice has almost certainly brought the House into greater ridicule than almost any other". Although
Eton College Eton College () is a public school (private sector) for boys in Eton, Berkshire Eton ( ) is a town in Berkshire, England, on the opposite bank of the River Thames to Windsor, connected to it by Windsor Bridge. The civil parish In ...

Eton College
has long abandoned the top hat as part of its uniform, top hats are still worn by " Monitors" at
Harrow School (The Faithful Dispensation of the Gifts of God) , established = (Royal Charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege ...
with their Sunday dress uniform. They are worn by male members of the
British Royal Family The British royal family comprises Queen Elizabeth II and her close relations. There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the British royal family. Many members support the Queen in undertaking public engag ...
on State occasions as an alternative to military uniform, for instance, in the Carriage Procession at the
Diamond Jubilee A diamond Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for temperature and pressure, room temperature and pressure, another ...
in 2012. Top hats may also be worn at some
horse racing Horse racing is an equestrianism, equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys (or sometimes driven without riders) over a set distance, for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, ...

horse racing
meetings, notably The Derby and
Royal Ascot Ascot Racecourse ("ascot" pronounced , often pronounced ) is a dual-purpose British racecourse, located in Ascot, Berkshire Ascot () is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller t ...
. Top hats are worn at the
Tynwald Day Tynwald Day ( gv, Laa Tinvaal) is the National Day of the Isle of Man, usually observed on 5 July (if this is a Saturday or Sunday, then on the following Monday). On this day, the Island's legislature, Tynwald, meets at St John's, Isle of Man, ...

Tynwald Day
ceremony and a few other formal occasions in the
Isle of Man ) , anthem = "O Land of Our Birth The "National Anthem of the Isle of Man" ( gv, Arrane Ashoonagh Vannin) was written and composed by William Henry Gill (1839–1923), with the Manx translation by John J. Kneen (1873–1939). It is often r ...

Isle of Man
. In George Orwell's '' Nineteen Eighty Four'', the top hat features prominently in the propaganda of the book's totalitarian regime: "These rich men were called capitalists. They were fat, ugly men with wicked faces ..dressed in a long black coat which was called a frock coat, and a queer, shiny hat shaped like a stovepipe, which was called a top hat. This was the uniform of the capitalists, and no one else was allowed to wear it." File:Winston Churchill verl sst das Geb ude der Admiralt t (1912).jpg,
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
in a
frock coat A frock coat is a formal Formal, formality, informal or informality imply the complying with, or not complying with, some set theory, set of requirements (substantial form, forms, in Ancient Greek). They may refer to: Dress code and events * F ...

frock coat
with grey top hat. File:JFK Inauguration from Capitol view.jpg, The
Inauguration of John F. Kennedy The inauguration of John F. Kennedy as the 35th President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Federal gover ...
as seen from behind. The few top hats in the crowd can be distinguished by the shininess of the hat's flat crown File:Lord Grimthorpe.jpg, Edward Beckett, 5th Baron Grimthorpe and others at
Royal Ascot Ascot Racecourse ("ascot" pronounced , often pronounced ) is a dual-purpose British racecourse, located in Ascot, Berkshire Ascot () is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller t ...
, 2012


21st century

The modern standard top hat is a hard, black silk hat, with fur now often used. The acceptable colors of hats are much as they have traditionally been, with "white" hats (which are actually grey), a daytime racing color, worn at the less formal occasions demanding a top hat, such as
Royal Ascot Ascot Racecourse ("ascot" pronounced , often pronounced ) is a dual-purpose British racecourse, located in Ascot, Berkshire Ascot () is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller t ...
, or with a
morning suit Morning is the period from sunrise to noon. There are no exact times for when morning begins (also true for evening and night) because it can vary according to one's lifestyle and the hours of daylight at each time of year. However, morning stric ...
. In the U.S. top hats are worn widely in coaching, a driven horse discipline, as well as for formal riding to hounds. The collapsible silk
opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a s ...

opera
hat, or ''crush hat'', is still worn on occasions, and black in color if worn with evening wear as part of
white tie White tie, also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal wear, formal in traditional evening western dress codes. For men, it consists of a black tailcoat#Dress coat, tail coat (alternatively referred to as a dress coat, usua ...
, and is still made by a few companies, since the materials, satin or grosgrain silk, are still available. The other alternative hat for eveningwear is the normal hard shell. In formal
academic dress Academic dress is a traditional form of clothing A kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or text ...

academic dress
, the Finnish and Swedish doctoral hat is a variant of the top hat, and remains in use today. The British-American musician
Slash Slash may refer to: * Slash (punctuation), the "/" character Arts and entertainment Fictional characters * Slash (Marvel Comics) * Slash (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Slash (''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'') Music * Slash (musician), stage n ...
has sported a top hat since he was in
Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1985. When they signed to Geffen Records in 1986, the band comprised vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash (musician), Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, ...
, a look that has become iconic for him.
Panic! at the Disco Panic! at the Disco is the solo project of American musician Brendon Urie Brendon Boyd Urie (born April 12, 1987) is an American singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the lead vocalist of Panic! at the Disco, of which he is the ...

Panic! at the Disco
's
Brendon Urie Brendon Boyd Urie (born April 12, 1987) is an American singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the lead vocalist of Panic! at the Disco, of which he is the only original member remaining. In high school, his friends chose him to be t ...
is also a frequent wearer of top hats. He has been known to wear them in previous live performances on their Nothing Rhymes with Circus tour and in the music videos, " The Ballad of Mona Lisa" and "I Write Sins Not Tragedies". The members of the "Inner Circle" of the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Groundhog Club wear top hats on February 2 of every year when they perform the Groundhog Day ceremonies with Punxsutawney Phil. Steampunk culture also incorporates the top hat into accepted headgear choices, though top hats worn in such a context are sometimes made of leather or similar materials and, now and then, even have simulated gears or other adornments secured to them. A top hat, frequently colored red, white and blue, or with stars and stripes similar to those on the American flag, is part of the regular costume of
Uncle Sam Uncle Sam (which has the same initials as ''United States'') is a common national personification of the federal government of the United States or the country in general that, according to legend, came into use during the War of 1812 and was ...

Uncle Sam
, a symbol of the United States. For satirists and political cartoonists, the top hat was a convenient symbol of the upper class, business and
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

capitalism
. A character wearing a top hat would be instantly recognized by the viewer as a member of the oligarchy. The character Rich Uncle Pennybags in the board game Monopoly (game), Monopoly, wears a top hat. In addition, a top hat is one of the game's tokens, used by players to mark their position as they progress around the board.


Freemasonry

In Freemasonry, as practiced in North American lodges, top hats are often associated with the position of Worshipful Master as he is the only member allowed the privilege of wearing a head covering to signify his leadership within the lodge. However, the Master is not obliged to wear a top hat, and can wear whatever type of hat he deems appropriate for the occasion. This is because there are varying degrees of formality in different Lodges, from formal wear to everyday dress. It is also common for a Worshipful Master to receive top-hat-related trinkets and gifts on either the day of his installation or as a going away present. In other countries, especially in certain systems in Germany, top hats are worn by all members of the lodge.


Judaism

In some synagogues, the president and honorary officers may wear a top hat on Shabbat or the great festivals. The custom of wearing a top hat, or ''tzylinder'' in the Yiddish language, originated in 19th-century England, replacing the wig and tricorn hat. The custom became widespread in Europe until The Holocaust. In some traditional Sephardi synagogues, members of the congregation may also wear top hats on special occasions. The custom is said to have started at the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London on a hot day, when the ''Hazzan, Chazzan'' was preparing for a service and decided that it was too hot to wear his wig, throwing it out of the window in a fit of bad temper. He then found that his tricorn hat was too big, as it had been made to fit over the wig, and so wore his top hat instead.


Description

A
silk Silk is a natural fiber, natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be weaving, woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoon (silk), cocoons. The be ...

silk
top hat is made from hatters' plush, a soft silk weave with a very long, defined nap. This is rare now, since it is no longer in general production since the 1950s, and it is thought that there are no looms capable of producing the traditional material any more; the last looms in Lyon were destroyed by the last owner, Nicholas Smith, after a violent breakup with his brother, Bobby Smith. The standard covering is now fur plush or ''melusine'' as (the London hat merchant) Christys' calls it. A grey flat fur felt top hat is the popular alternative. It is common to see top hats in stiff wool felt and even soft wool though these are not considered on the same level as the silk or fur plush or grey felt varieties. The standard crown shape nowadays is the 'semi-bell crown'; 'full bell crowns' and 'stovepipe' shaped toppers are rarer. Because of the rarity of vintage silk hats, and the expense of modern top hats, the vintage/antique market is very lively, with models in wearable condition typically hard to find; price often varies with size (larger sizes are typically more expensive) and condition.


Construction

In the past, top hats were made by Blocking (textile arts), blocking a single piece of wool or fur felt and then covering the shell with fur plush. Since the invention of silk plush a new method using ''Gossamer (fabric), gossamer'' was invented and used up to the present day though the older method is more common for toppers made today. A town-weight silk top hat is made by first blocking two pieces of gossamer (or ''goss'' for short), which is made of a sheet of cheesecloth that has been coated with a shellac and ammonia solution and left to cure for 5 months on a wooden frame, on a wooden top hat block (which is made of several interconnecting pieces like a puzzle so the block can be removed from the shell, as the opening is narrower than tip of the crown) to form the shell. After the shell has rested for a week in the block, the block is removed and the brim (made of several layers of goss to give it strength) is attached to the crown. The shell is coated with a layer of shellac varnish and also left for a further week. The silk plush is then cut to the correct pattern. The top and side pieces are sewn together; the side piece having an open diagonal seam. It is then eased over the shell carefully and then ironed (the heat of the iron melting the shellac for the plush to stick to it). The upper brim is also covered with a piece of silk plush or with silk petersham (a ribbed silk). The underbrim is covered with merino cloth. After the hat has fully rested, the brim is curled and bound with silk grosgrain ribbon, and a hat band (either silk grosgrain with or without a bow, or a black wool mourning band without a bow) is installed. Finally, the lining and the leather sweatband are carefully hand-stitched in. The construction can vary; reinforced toppers sometimes called "country-weight" included greater layers goss used to provide a strengthened hat that was traditionally suitable for riding and hunting, though it may not always conform to modern safety standards.


Opera hat

On May 5, 1812, a London hatter called Thomas Francis Dollman patented a design for "an elastic round hat" supported by ribs and springs. His patent was described as: Some sources have taken this to describe an early folding top hat, although it is not explicitly stated whether Dollman's design was specifically for male or female headgear. Dollman's patent expired in 1825. In France, around 1840, Antoine Gibus's design for a spring-loaded collapsible top-hat proved so popular that hats made to it became known as ''gibus''. They were also often called ''opera hats'', owing to the common practice of storing them in their flattened state under one's seat at the opera. The characteristic snapping sound heard upon opening a gibus suggested a third name, the ''chapeau claque'', "claque" being the French word for "slap".


Gallery

File:Stockholms mode-journal- Tidskrift för den eleganta werlden 1847, illustration nr 2.jpg, Top hats in the 1840s. Swedish Fashion plate from 1847 File:Ants Piip, 1923.jpg, Ants Piip, the first Head of State of Estonia, Head of State and the fifth Prime Minister of Estonia, wearing a top hat, 1923 File:Atatürk in white tie.jpg, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk wearing a top hat and
white tie White tie, also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal wear, formal in traditional evening western dress codes. For men, it consists of a black tailcoat#Dress coat, tail coat (alternatively referred to as a dress coat, usua ...
, 1925 File:Adolf Hitler in white tie.jpg, Adolf Hitler wearing a top hat and white tie, 1933 File:TPainVMASept08.jpg, Contemporary hip-hop musician T-Pain wearing a blue-and-white striped top hat at the Video Music Awards in 2008 File:King Magic.jpg, A stage magician using a top hat as a prop File:Leather top hat box (ca 1910).jpg, Hat box File:Paul Hoeniger Cafe Josty.jpg, A customer wearing a top hat in Paul Hoeniger's depiction of Berlin's Café Josty, 1890


See also

* Cap * Gat (hat) * List of headgear * Shako, a tall, cylindrical military cap


References


Further reading

* Neil Steinberg, Steinberg, Neil, ''Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora and the Death of the Hat'', 2005, Granta Books


External links


britishpathe.com
vintage footage of how silk top hats are made by Patey.
Guide to Buying a Top Hat
by Charles Rupert Tsua {{DEFAULTSORT:Top Hat Hats History of clothing (Western fashion) History of fashion Rider apparel 18th-century fashion 19th-century fashion 20th-century fashion 21st-century fashion Victorian fashion Formal wear