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Posts Tagged ‘drab top hat’

Most recent update: 26th June 2018

The top hat supposedly first appeared in 1797 on the streets of London. A story goes that an English hatter, a Mr. Hetherington, literally caused a riot on the street and was fined a tidy sum of £500 for disturbing the peace for wearing a hat that he invented (i.e. a topper)! This has since been proven as a myth and the person that really invented the top hat was actually a Frenchman. George Dunnage (a master hatter from Middlesex) is credited to have introduced the hat to Britain around 1793. Regardless of its origins, the top hat had gained popularity and by the Regency Period, it was de rigueur for everyday wear for the English gentleman (who would eventually be the only ones in the world who would still wear and value the hat long after all other foreigners have abandoned its use, even for formal dress that required it). Indeed, a gentleman would risk being spat at in the street if he did not wear a hat in the past!

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire wears a silk plush topper whilst the men in the background wear silk grosgrain opera hats. Note how he wears it at a jaunty angle (the thespian’s slant). The more elegant (and proper) way is to wear it dead straight, especially in formal settings.

 

How times have changed. Now, you would find it difficult to see anyone wearing a hat these days as the continuous de-formalisation of dress and manners slowly creep in. The slobbiness has set in and in due course, T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops would be considered too formal for business wear as we let it all hang loose and adopt the ‘not boovered’ attitude… But I digress.

The only places where top hats can be worn are few and far between. It is restricted to the most formal dress codes of the land. You will need it at Royal Ascot in the Royal Enclosure, investitures, weddings, balls, galas, operas and any formal event that demands morning dress or white tie. Whatever you may wear with a topper, an inferior one would definitely make you look like you’re in a costume. Indeed, inferior toppers can be spotted from a mile away. Plus, you must wear the right kind of topper that is appropriate to your dress and occasion otherwise it will definitely be costume!

Here I put forward a guide to sourcing, buying and wearing a topper. Do not ‘panic buy’ a topper (like they did in an episode of the British version of The Apprentice where they headed to the most expensive place possible); do your research, wade through all that is available and purchase wisely. You could get a bargain easily if you know how.

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