Top Hats

Top Hats: Styles and History Explained

Welcome to our guide to top hats! This classic headwear has been a symbol of elegance and sophistication for centuries, and we’re excited to share its rich history and various styles with you. Whether you’re a fan of formal top hats or fashionable top hats, there’s something for everyone to appreciate.

From its origins in the late 18th century to its continued relevance in modern times, the top hat has stood the test of time as a timeless accessory for formal affairs. We’ll explore the various materials, colors, and embellishments used in top hats throughout history, as well as its enduring appeal in contemporary fashion.

Join us as we take a deep dive into the world of top hats, showcasing their versatility and elegance. Get ready to discover the perfect top hat to elevate your next formal outfit!

Key Takeaways:

  • Top hats have a rich history dating back to the late 18th century.
  • There are various styles of top hats, including formal and fashionable designs.
  • Top hats have endured as a timeless accessory for formal affairs.
  • Materials, colors, and embellishments used in top hats have evolved over time.
  • Top hats continue to be a versatile and elegant accessory in contemporary fashion.

A Brief Overview of Top Hats

Top hats are a timeless symbol of formal elegance that have stood the test of time. They were first popularized in the late 18th century and quickly became a must-have accessory for any well-dressed gentleman. These hats were originally made from beaver fur, silk, and felt, but now come in a variety of materials.

While black top hats are the most iconic, top hats come in a variety of colors and styles. Vintage top hats are particularly prized for their unique style and enduring appeal.

One of the reasons top hats have remained popular is their simple yet striking design. They are tall, cylindrical hats with a flat top and a narrow brim which add an air of sophistication and grandeur to any outfit.

Note: Vintage top hats are a great investment piece for anyone looking to add a touch of timeless elegance to their wardrobe.

Top Hat Styles

Top hats are available in a variety of styles, each with their own unique characteristics. Some popular styles include:

  • Top hats with a curled brim, also known as a “homburg” style
  • Top hats with a slightly rounded crown, also known as a “derby” style
  • Top hats with a curved brim and a shallow crown, also known as a “bowler” style

Top Hat Origins

The top hat originated in England in the late 18th century and was quickly adopted by high society as a symbol of status and wealth. It was worn to formal events, including weddings and horse races.

“I have spent an hour or two this morning in seeing the wonderful crowds of people… and nothing has surprised me so much as expression of the crowd of how all the wearers of top hats are alike” – Charles Darwin, 1842

As fashion evolved, so did the top hat. By the mid-19th century, it had become a mainstay of formal attire and continued to be so into the early 20th century. In modern times, top hats are still worn on special occasions and by those who appreciate their timeless appeal.

Men’s Top Hats: Classic Elegance

When it comes to formal headwear, top hats are a timeless choice for men. Not only do they exude classic elegance, but they also offer a touch of sophistication that is hard to match. In this section, we will explore the different styles and materials commonly used in men’s top hats, helping you choose the perfect one for your formal occasion.

Styles of Men’s Top Hats

Men’s top hats come in a variety of styles, each with its own unique characteristics. The most popular styles include:

  • Stovepipe: this style features a tall, cylindrical shape and a narrow brim, perfect for formal events.
  • Satin-lined: a classic style with a luxurious satin lining and a slightly wider brim.
  • Homburg: a variation of the classic top hat with a stiff, upturned brim.

Whatever style you choose, be sure to select a hat that fits snugly but comfortably on your head and complements your outfit.

Materials Used in Men’s Top Hats

Men’s top hats can be made from a range of materials, including wool, silk, and beaver fur. Wool is the most affordable option, while silk offers a more luxurious feel. Beaver fur, on the other hand, is the most durable and long-lasting material, making it a top choice for those looking to invest in a high-quality top hat.

Choosing the Right Men’s Top Hat

When choosing a men’s top hat, consider the occasion you will be wearing it for. For formal events, a classic black top hat is a safe choice that never goes out of style. If you prefer a more modern look, consider a lighter color or opting for a patterned design.

“A well-chosen top hat can add the perfect finishing touch to any formal outfit, bringing a touch of timeless elegance to your look.”

Women’s Top Hats: Making a Statement

When it comes to achieving a stylish yet sophisticated look, women’s top hats are an excellent choice. These hats offer a touch of femininity and elegance that can elevate any outfit and make a bold fashion statement.

There are many different styles of women’s top hats to choose from, each with its distinctive characteristics and embellishments. Some popular styles include the wide-brimmed hat, the smaller fascinator, and the classic bowler hat.

Embellishments that Elevate

women's top hats

One of the most striking features of women’s top hats is the various embellishments that can adorn them. From feathers and lace to ribbons and jewels, these details can transform a plain hat into a stunning accessory that is unique to you and your outfit.

When it comes to choosing embellishments, it’s important to pick ones that complement your personal style and overall look. A bold feather can add drama and flair, while a delicate lace veil can evoke a sense of romanticism.

Making the Perfect Pairing

When choosing a women’s top hat, it’s important to consider the overall look you want to achieve. These hats work exceptionally well with formal wear, but they can also add a touch of elegance to more casual outfits. Consider pairing a wide-brimmed hat with a flowing maxi dress for a bohemian look or a bowler hat with a sleek suit for a more classic look.

No matter your outfit’s style, women’s top hats can add a chic and fashionable touch that will make you stand out from the crowd.

The History of Top Hats: From Regency to Modern Times

As we explore the rich history of top hats, it’s essential to understand how this iconic headwear came to be. Top hats originated in the early 1800s during the Regency era, where they were worn by men of all social classes. Initially known as “beaver hats” due to their primary material, top hats were made of beaver felt and were known for their durability and water-resistant qualities.

As the Victorian era approached, top hat styles began to evolve. Silk replaced beaver as the primary material, and the hats became taller and more narrow in shape. Top hats also began to signify social status, with the height of the hat depending on the wearer’s rank in society.

During the 20th century, top hats continued to maintain their relevance in formal attire, with notable figures such as Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt sporting the headwear. Today, top hats remain a timeless accessory for formal occasions, with modern variations incorporating new materials and designs.

Alongside the evolution of top hat styles, top hat accessories have also evolved over time. Hat boxes were created to store and transport top hats, ensuring they remained in pristine condition. Hat stands were crafted to display top hats in an elegant manner. Top hat brushes and cleaning solutions were also developed to keep the hats looking their best.

Today, top hat accessories continue to play a vital role in maintaining and preserving these elegant headwear pieces, from protective covers to specialized cleaning solutions. Whether you’re a collector of antique top hats or simply a fan of modern variations, proper maintenance and preservation are essential to ensure their longevity and pristine condition.

Styling Top Hats for Formal Affairs

When it comes to attending formal events such as weddings, galas, and ceremonies, top hats are a classic accessory that exudes elegance and sophistication. However, choosing the right top hat and styling it correctly can be a daunting task. Fear not, we have some tips to ensure you look dashing in your formal top hat.

Firstly, consider the dress code. Different events call for different levels of formality, and your top hat should match accordingly. For black tie events, a black silk top hat is the standard choice, while grey top hats are more appropriate for morning dress. For less formal events, you can experiment with different colors and fabrics to add some personality to your outfit.

Next, choose the right fit. Top hats should fit snugly on your head, without being too tight or causing discomfort. They should sit about 1 inch above your eyebrows and be centered on your head. If you are wearing a hat for the first time, it is recommended to try a few sizes before making a purchase.

To complete your look, consider pairing your top hat with other accessories. A pocket square or boutonniere can add a pop of color and style to your outfit, while formal gloves and a cane can lend an air of sophistication.

In summary, choosing and styling a top hat for a formal affair requires careful consideration of dress code, fit, and accessories. With these tips, you’ll turn heads at your next formal event with your impeccable style.

Top Hats in Fashion: Trends and Iconic Moments

Top hats have always been a fashion symbol, making a statement no matter the era. Today, we celebrate top hats for providing endless opportunities of stylish expression to those who choose to don them.

Throughout history, top hats have graced the heads of a variety of iconic figures, including President Abraham Lincoln, who famously wore a black silk top hat to his second inauguration. Women’s fashion was also influenced significantly by top hats in the early 1900s, where they were often paired with large, romantic plumes at the front and back.

fashionable top hats

Notable Trends in Top Hat Fashion

While contemporary societies have strayed from formal headgear in favor of more casual styles, the top hat’s timelessness has allowed it to remain relevant. Here are a few of the top fashion trends we’re seeing in 2021:

Trend Description
Vintage top hats Vintage top hats are an ideal option for fashion-conscious history buffs. Investing in a vintage top hat could be a wise choice, as vintage styles are evergreen in the world of fashion.
Bright colors and patterns For daring fashionistas, top hats are the perfect way to make a statement, particularly when you add bright colors and patterns to your outfit. This trend is perfect for those who aren’t afraid of standing out!
Accessorizing with pins and patches Accessorizing a top hat with pins, patches, and other items can enhance its appeal. This casual trend gives you the perfect opportunity to express yourself, whether you prefer punk-rock styles or more whimsical accessories.

Iconic Top Hat Moments in Fashion

Top hats have made quite a few notable appearances in fashion history, cementing their place in clothing’s hall of fame. Here are some of our favorite fashionable top hat moments:

  1. Charlie Chaplin: In the early 1900s, the legendary actor rocked a top hat, cane, and mustache, a look that has been copied countless times since.
  2. Michael Jackson: Michael Jackson made iconic use of the top hat in his performances, particularly in the music video for “Smooth Criminal”.
  3. Fred Astaire: Fred Astaire was famous for his fancy footwork and top hat and tails, which made him the ultimate style icon of his time.

As you can see, top hats have been a cornerstone of fashion for centuries, continuing to inspire designers and style enthusiasts worldwide. Join us as we raise our top hats to the future of this timeless accessory!

Caring for Your Top Hat: Maintenance and Preservation

Top hats are a timeless and sophisticated accessory that can elevate any outfit to a new level of style. Whether you’re a fan of vintage top hats or prefer more modern interpretations, it’s crucial to keep your top hat in pristine condition. Here, we’ll provide practical tips on how to care for your top hat to ensure it lasts for years to come.

Maintenance Routines

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your top hat in top shape. After use, gently brush off any dust or debris with a soft-bristled hat brush. Be sure to brush in the direction of the nap to avoid damaging the fabric or surface of the hat.

If your top hat becomes stained, refrain from using liquids or cleaning products. Instead, use a clean, dry cloth to gently blot the stain. If the stain persists, seek professional help from a hat cleaning specialist.

Storage Solutions

Proper storage can also help maintain your top hat’s shape and condition. Store your top hat in a hat box designed specifically for top hats, with enough room to accommodate its size and shape. Avoid storing your top hat in areas with high humidity or extreme temperatures, as these conditions may damage the fabric or cause it to lose its shape.

The Importance of Top Hat Accessories

Top hat accessories, such as hat stands and rain covers, are essential for top hat maintenance and preservation. A hat stand can help maintain the hat’s shape when not in use, while a rain cover can protect it from weather-related damage.

When not in use, be sure to store your top hat with a hat stand to help maintain its shape. If you need to travel with your top hat, use a protective case designed for top hats to prevent damage.

“A top hat is an investment, and taking good care of it will ensure that it lasts for years to come.”

By following these simple tips for maintenance and preservation, you can keep your top hat looking good as new for years to come. Remember, a top hat is an investment, and taking good care of it will ensure that it lasts for years to come.

The Revival of Top Hats: Modern Interpretations

While top hats were once a staple of formal dress, they have recently experienced a revival in contemporary fashion. Modern interpretations of this classic headwear have emerged, from sleek and minimalist designs to those featuring bold colors and unconventional materials.

One particularly popular trend has been the resurgence of vintage top hats. These classic pieces offer a unique sense of style and sophistication, and are a perfect complement to any formal or semi-formal ensemble.

Whether you prefer a traditional black felt top hat or a more daring embellished design, there’s no denying the timeless appeal of vintage top hats. Pair them with a three-piece suit for a classic look, or mix and match with modern pieces for a trendy twist.

The versatility of vintage top hats means they can be worn for a variety of occasions, from weddings to formal events to a night out on the town. Their enduring elegance and style make them a must-have accessory for any wardrobe.


At the end of our journey through the world of top hats, we hope we’ve given you a newfound appreciation for this iconic headwear. From its fascinating history to its enduring popularity in fashion, top hats continue to captivate with their timeless charm and elegance.

As you explore the different styles and materials available, remember that a top hat is not just an accessory – it’s a statement. Whether you’re attending a formal affair or simply looking to elevate your everyday style, a top hat can add a touch of sophistication and class to any outfit.

So, whether you’re a fan of vintage styles or prefer to embrace modern interpretations, we encourage you to try on a top hat and see for yourself the magic it can bring to your look. With proper care and maintenance, your top hat can last a lifetime and become a cherished part of your wardrobe.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the world of top hats. We hope we’ve inspired you to embrace this iconic accessory and make it your own.


What is a top hat?

A top hat is a tall, cylindrical hat with a flat crown and a wide brim. It is typically made of felt or silk and is known for its formal and elegant appearance.

Are top hats only for men?

No, top hats are not exclusively for men. While top hats have historically been associated with men’s formal attire, there are also stylish top hats designed specifically for women.

Can I wear a vintage top hat?

Absolutely! Vintage top hats add a touch of nostalgia and charm to any outfit. They are sought-after collector’s items and can be worn for special occasions or as a unique fashion statement.

Do top hats always come in black?

While black is the most traditional and classic color for top hats, they can also be found in various shades such as gray, brown, and even white. The color choice often depends on personal style and the occasion.

Can top hats be worn to formal events?

Yes, top hats are a staple accessory for formal events. They are commonly worn at weddings, galas, and prestigious ceremonies, adding a touch of sophistication and elegance to formal attire.

Are top hats still in fashion?

Absolutely! Top hats have withstood the test of time and continue to be a timeless fashion statement. They have had their place on runways and have been favored by influential figures, making them a symbol of classic style.

How do I care for my top hat?

To maintain your top hat, it is important to handle it with care and store it properly. Use a soft brush to remove any dust or dirt, and consider using top hat accessories such as a hat stand or a dust cover to protect it when not in use.

Can I wear a top hat with casual attire?

While top hats are traditionally associated with formal occasions, you can certainly experiment with wearing them in more casual settings. Pairing a top hat with a stylish outfit can add a unique and fashionable touch to your look.

Can women wear top hats?

Absolutely! Women’s top hats have grown in popularity and offer a stylish way to make a bold fashion statement. They come in various styles and can be adorned with feathers, ribbons, or other embellishments.

How do I choose the right top hat for me?

When choosing a top hat, consider factors such as the occasion, your personal style, and the shape of your face. It’s important to try on different styles and sizes to ensure the perfect fit and look.

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