How To: Wear A Top Hat

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Top hat and tails. For some of you, the top hat and tails look will fill you with dread. Of course the more flamboyant among you may be itching for the chance to dress up, in which case you probably already have the confidence to carry off the look.

How Do You Wear A Top Hat?

For those who are little more nervous, think of this - they hide bald patches in the photos! Although unfortunately not during the ceremony itself since you aren’t allowed to wear hats then!

“Women seem to like a man all dressed up” says Nick Bowman, who describes himself as an eligible bachelor and PR guru, and who wore a top hat to the wedding of a posh friend.

“A top hat is the finishing touch. It adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” and is literally a crowning glory,” says Martin Ellis Jones, proprietor of top hat specialist

There is another bonus too - “When it comes to photos the bride and bride’s mothers like it,” says Jones.

How Do You Wear A Top Hat?

Even if you are little hesitant, just try it. “Oddly I quite liked it - if you're going to have a special day, then push the boat out” says Bowman. Indeed it seems more people are. David Vecchi, director of hire for Moss Bros says top hats have increased in popularity in the past 18 months or so with 40 per cent of Moss Bros hirers now adding a top hat. “It makes men feel special” he says.

So how do you wear it? Bowman thought it was easy. “A top hat I thought was pretty self-explanatory. But the nice man in the shop put me right” he says.
Some will say to wear the hat with a tilt. “Worn slightly canted forward is amusing but canted over sideways indicates a bad fit” says Jones. “It should be horizontal to the ground and sit about an inch above the ear – high rather than low on the head. The body of the hat needs to dominate the face rather than be plonked on the head like a flanged pork pie,” he says.

How Do You Wear A Top Hat?

“There’s nothing worse than an ill fitting hat – and it will drive the wearer crazy. Hats should be worn ¾ inch above the eyebrow and between 1-1.5 cm above the ear” says Toby Luper of Hemingway Tailors (

“To perch or not to perch, that is the question,” says Steve Bishop, director at Hugh Harris Formal Attire. He agrees that ¼ inch above the ears is the perfect fit. “Anything more than this will make you look like a bit part player in an old Laurel & Hardy movie” he says.

If you’re a little on the short side and think the top hat is the ideal way to add a few inches - think again! “If you are of a smaller build many people assume that you should go for a taller hat but you should really choose one that is in proportion to your size” says Luper.

How Do You Wear A Top Hat?

Beware though. According to Jones etiquette states you must never wear a hat when indoors or sitting down – in fact pretty much the only time you will have the blighter on is during the photos – and that means your top hat is going to be lying in temptation’s way for some joker’s antics. “You should be lucky enough to go to a function where there is a cloakroom where you can hand the hat to the cloakroom attendant, go and get plastered and collect it later” says Jones.

If you don’t your top hat has a variety of other uses from wine cooler to favours stash, bouquet vase to emergency urinal. You’ve been warned!

Brownie points: If your bride to be really loves the look then think of other places you could don top hat and tails again and impress her by making these anniversary surprises – such as taking her to Royal Ascot where its compulsory in the Royal Enclosure or when you get knighted (OK perhaps not so likely but think what an anniversary date that would be!)

Practise the top hat look – wearing it, carrying it and of course throwing it for the clichéd hats in the air pic (only not so hard that it flies over the fence).

Check out top hat wearers with style – think Fred Astaire and Abraham Lincoln.

How Do You Wear A Top Hat?

Suffolk Weddings Guide