Top Hats

Sometimes one piece is so transcendent as to set the tone for everything else worn with it. A case in point is the top hat. Elegantly unadorned, this black hat with the high crown and small, upturned brim has been a classic for men almost since its inception in 1797. A powerful fashion element, it's a dress hat that instantly adds a touch of formality to any attire.

Debuted by the top hatter of the time, John Hetherington, as he walked out wearing a version of the top hat known as a stove pipe hat, the top hat drew such a large and raucous crowd as to get Hetherington arrested for "disturbing public order." Ironically, the incident became the catalyst for other manufacturers to imitate and sell topper hats as well, creating myriad styles, from the traditional ornament-laden steampunk hats to the extremely tall Victorian hats, among a variety of styles. The result was the labeling of the nineteenth century as the "Century of the Top Hat."