Top hats are sexy attention grabbers. Maybe that’s why so many women (think: Madonna, Beyonce, Audrey Hepburn, Dita Von Teese, Kate Moss, brides, even Queen Elizabeth –just to name a few, have worn a top hat.
We tend to think of top hats as formalwear today, but the original top hats of circa 1797 were really just a modified version of a men’s riding hat and they quickly caught on for daytime. Since then, many men have made iconic figures in top hats (think: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire). Today, hats of all types are enjoying a resurgence of popularity. Top hats are not just for men. They’re seriously sexy on women, and we know it! Women like Madonna, Beyonce, Audrey Hepburn, Dita Von Teese, Kate Moss, many brides, and even Queen Elizabeth have worn top hats.
At a recent Spring hat preview at Dorfman Pacific, I saw lots of beautiful hats of all types for men and women, but in the entryway to Dorfman Pacific there was a display of top hats. These hats by Scala Classico (since 1921), were lined up in various sizes (top hats can be stove-pipe tall, medium, or short). They are also available in colors like brown and purple. Although top hats for men are generally worn for high end social occasions (think: fox hunts. the Royal Ascot and formal weddings), when it comes to women, top hats of any type are worn any time and mostly for fashion.
The most famous top hat worn by a woman: While many famous women have worn top hats, perhaps the most famous one is that worn by rock goddess Stevie Nicks. Her top hat is so precious to her it is assigned to a roadie, who brings it to her onstage for the song, “Go Your own Way” (that’s star power).
According to Stevie, the first time she ever wore a top hat was for a tap dance recital she did with a friend back in grade school. The first adult top hat she owned she found in Buffalo New York, an old English school hat that she bought antique shopping with members of Fleetwood Mac.
She still owns that hat, although by now I’m sure Stevie has had a lot of other top hats as well. The point is, Stevie knew that wearing a top hat on stage would set her apart, and it’s one of those fashion accessories that made her a rock fashion icon.
The one hat I really wanted to copy was the Stevie Nicks top hat. Hers is taller than my Scala, but according to the experts, someone who is short like me should not go for the tallest style, but one that is in proportion with my size. So mine is the shortest version of the top hat that Dorfman Pacific sells.
The hat that I used for my re-creation is felt, featuring a “5 1/2 crown and a 2 inch brim with a bound edge. The hat comes with a grossgrain ribbon band with a double bow and as scala hat pin and in sizes: S – M – L – XL. Top hats can be tricky when it comes to size.
How To Size & Wear Your Top Hat: A top has has to fit correctly or it becomes comical. It’s best if you can just go to a store and try on your top hat, as not all of them will fit the same (no different than shoes, for example). Even if you know what your hat size normally is, when it comes to a top hat, size may differ with company and with the style. To measure your head, use a tape measure (or a length of string you’ll then have to measure on a ruler or tape measure). Wrap the string around your head about 1/8″ above your ear, across the mid-forehead, completely circling your head. Hold the tape firmly, but not too tightly. You want to place the string where you hat is going to sit. If your measurement falls between sizes, choose the next largest size. If yours is a bit big, there are hat sizers you can purchase to put inside your hat to make the hat fit more securely, but use the chart as a guide.
Where should your top hat sit on your head? There are strict rules for men about this (the accepted place for a top hat to sit is 1/8″ above your ear and shouldn’t be tilted), but since women usually have a lot more hair, my suggestion is just to wear your top hat wherever it feels comfortable. You are making a fashion statement and it doesn’t have to follow perfect top hat etiquette rules. One rule you must always obey, however, is to remove your hat indoors or when you are in a public gathering. No one can see over your head unless you do.
Channeling Stevie Nicks: Since Stevie Nicks is the undisputed modern queen of the top hat, and in homage to her I named my relationship advice website leatherandlaceadvice.com (after the lovely duet song made famous with Don Henley with the words). For the Stevie Nicks top hat re-creation I used the Dorfman Pacific WF569-BRN2 Wool Felt English Topper Hat (show on this page). Of course, this is my personal interpretation of “the Stevie Nicks top hat.” I wanted it to be similar, not exactly the same, so my feathers are primarily black with just a touch of rose-y beige, and although I added her signature velvet rose, I also added a band of black net tied in a big bow in the back.
Stevie’s Jewelry: The crescent moon, stars and heart necklace that Stevie Nicks wears all the time is also signature, so I wanted to include it in my photos. Here are gold and diamonds, but mine from Carolee Jewelry are sterling Silver and clear crystals, and a lot more affordable. The Sterling Silver Crystal Heart Charm Style #SE10074123 is 1 inch wide by 5/8 inch length – Price $75.00 and the Sterling Silver and Crystal Moon and Star Charm Style #:SE10654123 is 3/4″ wide by 1″ length – Price:$115.00 . The Custom Charm Necklace Holder Style #CLN00105S040 in Silver ($30.00) has a delicate 18-18″ adjustable chain and the holder can hold one or both of these charms, plus any you care to add. For more information on this exceptional jewelry, Visit the Carolee Jewelry Web Site
The Stevie Nicks Top Hat, re-created:
Check out the slideshow with various details of the Stevie Nicks top hat I created. There are also a few photos of this same hat with different trims to show you how easy it is to decorate a hat to suit your mood. To get your own top hat visit Dorfman Pacific or find one in your hometown.