Top 5 Top Hats in Historical Costume Movies

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If the 19th century gave men nothing else, it gave them the top hat. Today, this sartorial statement has fallen into a mockery of itself used mostly for magic tricks and cartoon characters, but in its heyday, the top hat made a man look incredibly dapper. Nowhere is this more apparent than in historical costume movies and TV series set from the 1810s through 1890s.

Tall hats were first worn by men in the very late 18th century by the Incroyables (a very fashion-forward class of men in post-Revolutionary Paris), and this chapeau evolved into the top hat as we know it by the early 19th century. This style of hat was commonly made of felted beaver fur, and later in the century, silk top hats became fashionable. Top hats were part of a gentleman’s outerwear, at first only worn by the upper echelons of society, and then worn commonly by most any man in the city or in a profession. They were less common in country wear, except at formal occasions like on the way to a ball, wedding, or funeral.

Luckily, historical costume movies and TV shows have plenty of opportunity for wearing these toppers, so let’s enjoy a few stylish men in top hats today (we’ll look at ladies in top hats from films in another Top Five Friday!).

 

1. Persuasion (2007) – Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth

Persuasion (2007), Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth

Penry-Jones is swoony but a believable match for Anne.

 

2. Beau Brummell: This Charming Man (2006) – James Purefoy as Beau Brummell

James Purefoy in Beau Brummell: This Charming Man (2006)

The original man of fashion!

 

3. Young Victoria (2009) – Rupert Friend as Prince Albert

Young Victoria (2009), Rupert Friend as Prince Albert

Vicky can sod off, we’re letting Prince Albert out of the can here.

 

4. Daniel Deronda (2002) – Hugh Dancy as Daniel Deronda

Daniel Deronda (2002), Hugh Dancy as Daniel Deronda

Proving it’s not the height of a man’s top hat, it’s the accessories.

 

5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Gary Oldman as Count Dracula

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Gary Oldman as Count Dracula

Grey suit, top hat, and sunglasses on a vampire. You had me at hello!

 

Who’d we miss? What’s your favorite man in a top hat from a historical costume movie or TV show?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. When she’s not dressing up in costumes, she can be found traveling the world with her sweetie and, occasionally, Kendra and Sarah. Her costuming and travel adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also maintains a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

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