Furfelt Top Hat £250.00
Also known as White Top Hat and the Grey Drab Top Hat – synonymous as the hat worn with the Morning Suit as the Wedding Hat of choice. The Laird Grey Top Hat is made from super smooth Furfelt, brushed to feel luxuriously soft. This is a top hat so shorter in crow height than the Topper (see Topper Melusine) but a classic choice for that Special Occasion.
Our standard Top Hat is a hard, black Silk finish Top Hat, or Luxury Wool Top Hat or FurFelt Top Hat. The acceptable colors of top hats haven’t changed much with the traditional white hats (which are grey) and black being the most popular. The grey top hats are a daytime racing color, to be worn at less formal occasions which demand a top hat, like Royal Ascot for the Royal Enclosure, with a Morning Suit. The Topper or Top Hat is also ideal as a Wedding Hat for the Groom, Best Man or as a special Occasion Hat. Top Hats were tradionally worn as a theatre hat, but as formal hats go the Homburg is a good, modern substitute for the Top Hat.
The Collapsible silk Opera hat, The Gibus or Chapeau Claque (because of the noise the springs make when the hap is expanded) or “Crush hat”, always black, is still worn on formal occasions with White Tie. Silk Top Hats are made from satin or grosgrain silk. Silk hats are in great demand and go for £2500+ for a good one.
The Laird Top Hat is a Silk Finish Topper, made from a long haired melusine rabbit furfelt, we treat the hat and comb it many times to give a truly silk finish to your top hat, shining to a silken sheen. This is the accepted alternative to the Silk Topper or Top Hat which are rarely made today.
A more reasonable alternative to the Silk Top Hat is the Wool or Fur Felt Top Hat with prices from around £85 for a good example, but beware of the cheap Chinese copies, a Gentleman should never wear such a thing.
A sensible alternative to the Top Hat is a Junior Top Hat, often seen in Eventing competitions. The Junior Top Hat (as its name suggests) is shorter than the Top Hat but in the same hard structure – very wearable Town Hat, and a nice alternative to a Bowler Hat or Homburg.
Another variation on the regular size Top Hat is the Topper, Stove Pipe, High Hat or Chimney Pot, which is slightly taller than the Top Hat and curves out slightly at the top of the crown of the hat. Slightly more dramatic than a Top Hat with a more Victorian feel.
Today, top hats are worn to signify wealth, independence or flamboyance, fusing the glorification of the past with contemporary fashion. The Top Hat has become the symbol of the Anarcho Dandyist movement as flaunted in The Chap magazine and by a growing number of the Style conscious. Over the past 40 years the top hat was adopted by the Glam Rock movement with Marc Bolan of T-Rex, of course the Mad Hatter, Alice Cooper, Lord Sutch, in the movie The Gangs of New York, and more recently by Robert Downey Junior in the Sherlock Holmes film.
Top Hats or Toppers are still worn by Harrow School ‘Monitors’, and until recently by Eton College. Top Hats had a resurgance in the 90’s, made popular by Slash from Guns n Roses who always wears a top Hat. Of course Willy Wonka wears a flamboyant Topper and the White Rabbit wears a Top Hat in Alice in Wonderland; wearing so formal a hat made the character even more fantastical at the time.
Top Hats as we know them, began to usurp the Tricorne by the end of the 18th century. The first silk top hat was made by George Dunnage in 1793, a hatter based in Middlesex. In 1797 a fop and hatter, John Hetherington, paraded down The Strand wearing a Top Hat; there was public outrage and the Times reported: “the sight of his hat caused a sensation, people booed, several women fainted…..and a small boy got his arm broken in the crush” . Hetherington was arrested, suffering a £50 fine, a fortune at the time, for “appearing on a public highway wearing upon his head, a tall structure calculated to frighten timid people”.
Not long after it’s ignominious outing, just twenty years later, and top hats, or ‘Toppers’, were popular across the social classes as a hat of status or celebration. Even working class men began wearing them for weddings. The first Top Hats were made of the finest Beaver Fur, these were worn by the upper classes. An acceptable alternative for those who couldn’t stretch to beaver fur was Rabbit Furfelt. The term “Stuff Hat” referred to any hat made of fur.
Latterly the Top Hat became part of the uniform worn by Sir Robert Peel’s police force, thinking that the height of the hat would give them authority. This early police version was topped with an oilcloth and especially hardened, for obvious reasons.
In the 19th century, the Top Hat or ‘Topper’ was worn as a groomsman’s Hat, until the 1st Earl of Leicester took objection to such formally attired and well turned out commoners and commissioned the formulation of a lower crowned riding hat, know to us as the ‘Bowler’, created in 1849.
During the 19th century, beaver fur became rare and more expensive, being replaced by the more impressive silk or “Hatter’s Plush”. Beaver Fur was still worn by traditionalists, but the shine and grandeur of the silk quickly took over.
The Topper developed throughout the 19th century, with the “Wellington” style being popular in the 1820’s/30s, a tall hat with concave sides. By the 1840s and 50s though the Top Hat reached the height of it’s popularity with ever taller variations, with more extreme brims, concave curls, with ever more scalloped and engineered structures. The dynamic between the brim and the crown became more diverse, culminating in the Stovepipe hat, a tall, straight sided structure, small, intensely curved brim, it was nicknamed the “Chimney Pot“. It’s most famous advocate was Abraham Lincoln while president and its rumoured he kept important correspondence inside his hat.
From the mid-19th century the middle classes adopted the Top Hat as a symbol of status and respectability after Prince Albert adopted it as his headwear of choice. The silk hatters plush led to a sharp decline in beaver trapping in N.America and of beaver hats more generally too. This decline has continued and is now rarely available
The ‘Gibus’ was developed by Antoine Gibus in 1812, patented in 1837, as the classic Theatre or Opera Hat, to be worn with evening wear. It was sprung inside with a collapsible mechanism, it allowed the top hat to be collapsed down almost flat. It is also known as a ‘chapeau claque’ for the sound it made when snapping up into shape.
James Lave observed that a meeting of “toppers” looked like factory chimneys, and reflected the industrial era of the time.
The top Hat developed slightly differently between the two centres of 19th century fashion, England and France. In England, Dandies wore accentuated, flared crowns with curled brims which swooped down at the front. Their French cousins, known as the “Incroyables”, began wearing hats of ever more outlandish dimension, to the extent that until the Gibus hat was developed, cloakrooms struggled to cope with their burgeoning scale.
Topper, Opera Hat (the Gibus) and from the 1920s, the High Hat, are all terms for the Top Hat.
At its peak in popularity a reaction developed against the top hat, seen as the reserve of the oppressive ruling class and middle class professionals began wearing the Bowler Hat or Fedoras, Trilbys and saw the rise of the Homburg as a slightly less formal aalternative for the opera and more practical for town. These styles wear also cheaper and easier to produce on a block press, for mass production, whereas a Topper still needs to be handmade by a master Hat-maker, using a five piece wooden clock. As with many trades, there are few apprentices prepared to train as a hatter.
The top hat became associated with the Upper Classes, becoming a target for satirists and social critics. It was particularly used as a symbol of capitalism in cartoons in socialist and communist media, long after the headgear had been abandoned by those satirized.
|British||6 1/2||6 7/8||7 - 7 1/8||7 1/2 - 7 3/8||7 1/2|
|USA||6 7/8||7||7 1/8 - 7 1/4||7 3/8 - 7 1/2||7 5/8|
|Inches Circumference||21 1/2||22||22 ½ - 22 3/4||23 1/4 - 23 3/4||24|
Average size Male: 59cm (7 1/4) / Female: 57cm (7)
For more information on how to measure your size, please read our Measurement Guide.