Silk Top Hats

Gentlemen, The Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot are fast approaching. If you are lucky enough to be attending and are a guest in either the Queen’s Stand on Investec Derby Day or The Royal Enclosure throughout the week of Royal Ascot, you must ensure that you abide by the dress code below, otherwise you will be denied entry.

  • Either black or grey morning dress with a black or grey top hat, service dress or full national costume is obligatory for gentlemen in the Queen's Stand on Investec Derby Day & The Royal Enclosure for Royal Ascot. The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
Find out more about Royal Ascot Dress Code here 

Gentlemen's dress code at royal ascot

Find out more about the fashion at last years Epsom Derby here -

So it is time to ensure that you either own your own Top Hat, or have arranged to hire one for the big day.

Silk Top Hats are my personal favourites, although they are becoming increasingly harder to come by and can be extremely expensive, as they are no longer being produced. When top hats were in production gentlemen's heads were generally smaller, hence the main problem that seems to arise is that gentleman's heads are now larger, which means a large silk or fur top hat is extremely rare and can be seen to fetch up to as much as £20,000! Lets hope you have a small head.

There are top hats being produced today, but they are made with different shapes and in a felt material. These are perfectly acceptable to wear at Epsom or Ascot but the simple fact is that they just do not look the part. You can see a true vintage silk topper a mile off and they simply look more elegant than the modern felt ones. They are also much lighter and cooler, which is important when the suns out in mid June at Ascot. 

Another variation of the top hat that is often seen on the racecourse is that made of grey felt. The grey top hat has seen an increase in popularity over the last few decades. Some consider the grey version to be slightly less formal which is why a black one would be more suitable at a wedding. The shape of your top hat really comes down to your personal style, taste and budget.

Purchasing a Top Hat can be daunting and there are undoubtedly some people out there ready to rip you off. Before buying one I suggest doing your homework on-line to get an idea of price. The price as I said earlier is mainly affected by size, age, condition and shape. If you know the size you need then eBay / Antique Auctions can be a source of complete bargains. However they are the obvious risks associated with this and if you can afford to splash a little extra then a reputable dealer would be the best choice. The vintage top hat can be a very expensive item but you really can consider it an investment piece of clothing due to its rare nature. If you look after your topper then it can always be sold on when you feel you no longer need it.

There are various guides on-line that can advise you on the proper care of a silk top hat. I would advise that if you need the top hat cleaning then get a professional to 'polish' it. I would also suggest that you buy a leather top hat box if your budget permits or just a hard and cushioned box to protect your hat whilst travelling to your hotel/home whilst at the races.

Find more out about The History of the Top Hat Here -

Top Hat Size Guide

To measure your top hat size using a tape measure, follow your head circumference above the ears, approximately 1 inch above your eyebrows and 1/2 inch to 1 inch above the ears depending on how you wish to wear the top hat (the brim should not touch your ears!). Then compare it on the table below. There is not always an exact match between cm to inches so the nearest has been selected. If your head measures between two sizes, you may select the larger size (you can place a small strip of felt behind the top hat's sweatband to make the fit more comfortably).

Royal Ascot Dress Code

As some Top Hats have considerable value they can unfortunately be the target of thieves even at such prestigious events. I myself have been in the company of someone who had theirs stolen. Just try and be careful and if you do feel the need to take your top hat off whilst outside (you shouldn't unless the queen is entering the course) then try not to to place it on a table.

Even more dangerous is placing it on a chair where the obvious happens and someone sits down, I have seen this on more than one occasion.

There are various places which you can hire / buy Top Hats from some of which are listed below:-

Although I have recently come across a Lady by the name of Dena King who has started her own private 
Vintage silk Top Hat Hire and Sales company.

All of the Hats on offer are by recognised London Makers and Genuine silk, for example Herbert Johnson, Christy's, Dunn & Co ect. The size's range from 6 3/8 to 7 1/

All the hats are potentially for sale with prices starting at £225 for sale and £35 for hire + £100 deposit

For all the Hire Hats there would be a Fully refundable (depending of course on the safe return of the hat) deposit to be left and then there is a Daily / Duration charge, (customer can hire per day or if they are away for several days).

For More information please contact; Dena King -

If you are looking to buy your own Top Hat Love Hats have a selection which are ready to post, and easily purchased through there website. 

Royal Ascot Mens Dress Code

Please find below other companies which offer a wide selection of Top Hats for Hire and Sale.

I would love to know your opinions on Top Hats. Do you prefer Silk or felt or where do you find is the best place to pick up vintage top hats? Let me know in the comments box below. 


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