Men’s Fashion History – The Origin of the Top Hat

Humans have covered their heads since the start of time. Initially the head wear was introduced as a protection product but then a whole generation of head wear came into being with top hats being the most favourite among people. The top hat, more commonly known by the nickname “topper” is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat. Starting from a mere head covering, this hat was worn mostly for ceremonial or religious occasions in the beginning but it ended up as a fashion accessory all around the world.

The origin of this hat dates back to the 17th century. It is difficult to exactly tell who invented these hats but generally the first silk top hat in England is credited to George Dunnage, a hatter from Middlesex, in 1793. John Hetherington was actually the person to invent this remarkable head wear. When he wore the hat in public for the first time, rumours have it that women fainted and children screamed, even the dogs got scared which caused an absolute uproar in the elite class and ultimately led to the arrest of this daddy of these hat. The charges filed included “intimidating people with a tall structure having a shining lustre.”

After this incident the game flipped, within the next twenty years almost all the social classes including the working class started wearing them and it was the 19th century when they started to get considered as being the symbol of urban respectability. Hat manufacturers in England made a good amount of money from these hats. These hats gained massive importance in politics and international diplomacy. They made so much of a statement that the word “Gentleman” got directly related to these hats.

This famous hat was not meant to be worn in a simple way. Style and fashion trends were introduced regarding the decision of how they should be worn. It is not known who set the standard but the fashion was to wear it tilted at 10 degrees, in any direction. This act shows that people had fashion and style sense even at that time.

In the 1950s, men wore these hats for business, pleasure and formal occasions, but later in the 1960s this trend started getting too old and classy, only the old men were seen wearing them. Soon the naked head became the new fashion. So, now the trend has become limited to people of a particular age. It’s really remarkable to see how fashion trends change over time.

Fashion History – 1960’s to Present Day

In this article we shall go through the trends and styles that were apparent over the past five decades. Starting from 1960, we take a journey through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s then right up to the modern contemporary looks that we see each and every day.

So the swinging 1960’s begins with a lot of vibrancy and plenty of brightly coloured attire, think Austin Powers with his velvet suits and ruffle neck ties. Men’s clothing was primarily sports jackets, polyester suits and turtle neck sweaters. Shoe wise Chelsea boots and Cuban heels were in along with moccasins a few years after.

The decade of the seventies came by with an ‘anything goes’ kind of attitude. Men wearing pretty much whatever they wanted, it was the time of free spirit and fun. Men were actually adding platform shoes to their outfits, which coincided with the disco theme that was evident during this era.

Shortly after came the turn of the 1980’s and once again styles quickly changed. The power suit was the in thing, mainly the kinds seen on the guys in Miami Vice. Conservative looks were all the rage, along with the power suit came the sophisticated shoe style. Oxfords, brogues and loafers were everywhere. The late 80’s saw a drastic change and everyone was less formal about their clothing choices. Looser styles and casual looks were a lot more opted for among both men and women.

Moving on to the 1990’s, denim was around and there was a lot of it. From jeans to jackets, it was the fabric to be seen in. Men’s clothing was full of flannel shirts, leather jackets and aviator sunglasses. Laid back relaxed looks were the top trends with plenty of baggy styled pieces to go around. The 90’s also saw the beginning of the trainer revolution, as the latest sneakers became popular among young kids and teenagers.

The year 2000 up until the year 2010 has seen so many looks come and go that listing them would take up an entire decade in its self. The turn of the millennium saw a lot more people becoming more fashion conscious and choosing to dress how they wanted to rather than following fashions. Today it seems that the trend is to not follow trends and wear what you want to create a unique look. So it remains to be seen what we will be dressing like over the next ten years.