The prestige and notoriety of the top hat dates back over two centuries. In London, 1797, hatter John Hetherington caused such a commotion at the sight of his silk top hat that police officials were called. The London Times recalls that “Hetherington had such a tall and shiny construction on his head that it must have terrified nervous people. The sight of this construction was so overstated that various women fainted, children began to cry and dogs started to bark."
Flying Private (available in select hat shops) and Gentleman Jack.
Making the front page of the news, Hetherington's fashion statement marked the significance of the hat's shape and status. Eventually, the top hat became synonymous with the upperclass. Whether made of felted fur or silk, it was head wear fit for the royalty. Prince Albert took the top hat from being a mere fashion statement to a symbol of urban respectability by donning the top hat in 1850.
White Rabbit, top hat from Heritage Collection.
Top hats were part of formal wear for U.S. presidential inaugurations for many years until President Dwight D. Eisenhower omitted the hat for his inauguration. Throughout history, it has been worn by politicians, dignitaries, artists and musicians. A top hat is for characters who are not afraid to stand out in a crowd. Notoriety, class, and distinction sets a man or woman apart from the rest when donning this historic hat.