Top Hat Refurbishment

Top Hat Refurbishment

Model wearing a top hat and morning wear from Oliver Brown

Hats Off Sir!

Specialising in gentlemen's top hats, Oliver Brown is proud to hold the world’s largest selection of antique silk top hats for purchase. As the Official Licensee for Royal Ascot for the sixth consecutive year, we are the preferred top hat supplier to this most prestigious event, synonymous with sartorial elegance. We are also the foremost destination for top hat purchase and hire in London. 

Model wearing top hat and morning wear from Oliver Brown at Ascot

The Origin Of The Top Hat 

It is widely regarded that the inventor of the top hat was English haberdasher, John Hetherington, who on 15th January 1797 walked the streets of London in his new invention and caused quite the riot. It is believed that women fainted, children screamed, and dogs yelped at the sight of the silk top hat, which had a “shiny lustre and was calculated to frighten timid people” 

The top hat gained social acceptance thanks to the famous English dandy, George “Beau” Brummel (1778-1840), who became its first champion. Brummel, an innovator in men’s fashions, loathed the flamboyance and decadence of men’s fashion of the time, instead adopting simple, elegant, and tailored attire such as equestrian-inspired breeches, crisp white shirts, and exquisitely tailored jackets. 

top hats


Antique silk top hats are considered the height of beauty and elegance due to their impressive shine, shape and lightness, which is beyond compare. Traditionally crafted from a unique fabric called “silk plush” which has a long nap, and stretched over a hard gossamer shell, giving the hat the beautifully polished look, we recognise today.  

The looms that created this luxurious fabric ceased production in 1968 and are sadly no longer in existence, hence today there is a finite supply of silk top hats in the world, making those in a pristine condition exceedingly rare, fetching very high prices. 


Top Hat Restoration 

Perhaps you are lucky enough to been in possession of a silk top hat that has been stored in a dusty attic for many generations? Or maybe after repeated wear at an event, such as Royal Ascot, you may wish to refurbish your prized top hat to its former glory? We pride ourselves at being an authority on top hats and are pleased to offer a cleaning and refurbishment service suitable for both antique and contemporary top hats. At Oliver Brown, we are lucky to work with one of only two specialists left in the world who can refurbish an antique silk top hat. We have partnered with last traditional hat maker in London, who carefully restores silk top hats in their workshop, the only one remaining in the country to carry out this type of highly skilled and careful work. Through careful cleaning and polishing by hand, the refurbishment process will improve the hats appearance and render if ready for its next outing. 


Refurbishing a top hat

Most parts of the hat can be carefully refurbished and repaired, including the replacement of outer and inner bands and damaged brim covers, the removal of dents and creases, as well as replacing inner silk lining. If you have inherited an heirloom top hat, the workshop is also accustomed to altering the shape of top hat or making it smaller, to give you the perfect fit. However, we are unable make the top hat larger and cannot replace the outer silk itself as it is no longer in production. It is possible to disguise minor damage to the outer silk to a degree, with specialist blackening preparation. 

 Refurbishing a top hat


Prices for top hat refurbishment start at £75. View full details of our refurbishment services HERE 

You are welcome to visit us at our Chelsea and Jermyn Street stores for more information, or alternatively, contact us at

Refurbishing a top hat


Sarah McKeon



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