Top hats came into fashion for the well-to-do in the late 18th century. They were first made of beaver fur, but later when silk plush, sometimes called hatter’s plush, was developed, this lighter, shimmering cloth took pride of place in the world of millinery. Although new plush has not been produced since the 1960s, top hats are very much in demand for Ascot, garden parties, and weddings.
So to prepare you for the social season ahead, we’ve compiled the following list of top tips for wearing a top hat:
Top hats should be worn flat from back to front, which means pulling the brim lower over the forehead than one might be accustomed to wearing other hats. Normally, they should also be straight side-to-side, but for the rakes out there can be at a jaunty angle (angle calculated with a positive correlation to race winnings and bottles of pop consumed). Exempli gratia:
While ladies are allowed to wear hats indoors, a gentleman should always remove his hat. When hats were more common, other rules of etiquette applied: a gentleman should remove his hat when greeting a lady, etc. However, these rules are no longer compulsory.
When you are able to remove your hat, remember not to place it on its crown (the top of the hat). Antique top hats are surprisingly robust, but if the silk wears away, it cannot be replaced. The edges of the crown are most vulnerable for wear.
Most importantly, look after your hat. Most antique hats have already lasted generations and have probably had multiple owners. With proper care, they will be treasured heirlooms for many years to come. We have a full explanation of how to care for your hat here.
If you have any questions about how to choose a hat, etiquette, care, refurbishment, or are interested in purchasing a hat for, please feel contact us at Oliver Brown or stop by our Lower Sloane Street shop.