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Top Hat

A favourite wedding favourite

A top hat also known as a silk hat, cylinder hat, chimney pot hat or stove pipe hat is sometimes also known by its nickname ‘topper’. It is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat worn prior to and including the 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, the top hat is usually worn only with morning dress or white tie, in dressage, as servants’ or doormen’s livery, or simply as a fashion statement.

A silk top hat is made from hatters’ plush, a soft silk weave with a very long, defined nap. This is very rare now, since it is no longer in general production the secondhand top hat market is very buoyant, with antique models in wearable condition typically hard to find; price often varies with size (larger sizes are typically more expensive) and condition, immaculate condition being much more expensive.

Many surviving hats are in sizes smaller than an average man today can wear. Silk top hats can be inherited, bought refurbished, or bought second-hand and then refurbished if necessary.

Famous top hat wearers

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • Uncle Sam
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • W.C. Fields
  • Fred Astaire
  • Ebeneeze Scrooge
  • The Mad Hatter
  • Cat in the Hat