The Top Hat

I believed that the top hat died off at the beginning of the 20th century. It turns out that, at least for very formal occasions like Inauguration Attire, the top hat still was worn by no less than President Kennedy in the early 1960s. (Then it died off. But still, that is quite remarkable.)

Here is Kennedy and Eisenhower and the former’s inauguration. You can also see men in the background wearing less formal hats. By the 1960s, however, the only hats you would see on men would be informal caps. The notion of formal headwear for most men ended here.

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5 responses to “The Top Hat

  1. Nobody but NOBODY, wore a top hat as well as THIS guy! ; D

  2. You still see top hats at day time weddings in the UK. They are part of traditional formal morning dress.

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Good point. I should have been more specific. I think the UK still maintains this way of dressing. However, I think the last time I saw traditional formal morning dress in North America was for JFK’s funeral. But I could be wrong.

  3. I don’t agree that the only hats you would see on men since the 1960s are of the informal variety, such as a baseball cap. I was born in 1961 and vividly recollect men wearing fedora style hats well into the 1970s in all sorts of settings, such as work, church, even at certain sporting events. Even if you watch retro television shows from the 1970s, especially crime dramas, the fedora is ubiquitous. Telly Savalas, for instance was never seen in an episode of Kojak without his fedora and that show ran until 1978. My own father continued to wear formal hats right up to his death in 1993. I would agree that formal hats have all but disappeared today, much to my dismay. I do try to do my part and continue to were a fedora hat on certain occasions or just for fun. Don’t quite know what happened and why the baseball cap supplanted the formal hat for all occasions. You see baseball caps everywhere now: church, work, weddings, funerals, etc. Top hats, I would agree, have been gone since as far back as I can remember. We are too leisurely now in our style of dress. Nobody seems to care to ‘dress up’ anymore and that is kind of sad.

    • smartpeopleiknow

      I agree with what you said for the most part. I still content, though, that hats and hat wearing declined rapidly around this time. If you do watch Kojak (and I did), most of the other men in the show did not wear hats.

      That said, I have seen something of a return of hats. H&M always sells hats these days, and I am sure they wouldn’t if young men didn’t buy them. And not just baseball caps either, but I wide variety.

      I like hats and I like neckties and even bowties. I think men should have the option of wearing them or not, depending on their taste.

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