A cylinder hat, aka Top Hat, Silk Hat, Chimney Pot Hat, Stove Pipe Hat, sometimes even nicknamed as “Topper” is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, predominantly worn from the latter part of the 18th to the middle of the 20th century. The first silk top hat in England is credited to George Dunnage, a hatter from Middlesex, in 1793 despite William Hogarth, the Lord Mayor of London was wearing a top hat back in 1747. It was also claimed but is definitely not true that a London haberdasher named John Hetherington introduced the top hat in 1797.
What first was worn only by wealthy people, the so-called upper class to show their US monopoly power, had become popular in all social classes within the last decades. Even workmen were wearing them. The hats became part of the uniforms worn by policemen and postmen to give them the appearance of authority. By the end of World War I, it had become a rarity, though it continued to be worn daily for formal wear, such as in London at various positions in the Bank of England or boys at some public schools.
Today the cylinder hat is usually worn only with a morning dress or white tie, in dressage, as servants’, doormen’s livery, or as a fashion statement. They are also still associated with stage magic, in particular various hat tricks.
|1_Fashion Backstage: Interview w/Hat Designer Cindy Steffens|
|2_Cylinder Hat in speakfashion’s fashion dictionary|
|3_Fashion Classics in speakfashion’s fashion history|
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