Monday, February 27, 2012

Flights of Fancy: In Search of The Perfect Black Top Hat

  XXXaiva Mini Top Hats $45


Once upon a time, the top hat was a symbol of capitalism and U.S. monopoly; today it is just a playing piece in the game Monopoly and a fashion statement novelty. It conjures up the circus ringmaster, the vaudeville performer, the burlesque teaser, and the cabaret singer. It is the ultimate symbol of theatrical frivolity, worn by men and women alike, and it will never fall out of fashion. 


I went on a hunt to find the best of the plain black top hats available online. Through hundreds of hats of every shape and size, with every conceivable concoction of tacked-on feather and trim, I found a few that caught my fancy; a few that were hand-blocked in a lovely shape, solid black, and not too over-done. 


From the most expensive to the least, here is what I found:



By far the best top-hat shop on Etsy is the exquisite House of Nines. Hand-blocked and perfectly trimmed, this veiled black top hat may be a bit pricey, but it would be the ultimate find for a classic, high-quality top-hat collection.




Topsy Turvy makes many carnivalesque and costume hat styles, but this black topper is the most classically-shaped, basic top hat they sell. The netting is not as nice as the House of Nines top hat, but the price is much more affordable.






The second-best Etsy seller for top hats is Gypsy Lady Hats. This designer sells a large number of top hats in gothic and steampunk styles with a shape that says , "let's party!" a little louder. I love the striped versions in velvet and satin, and all of the corset-laced ones. The price is perfect for a custom-made hat. 





Another fabulous Etsy shop is Noxenlux Chapeaux, which sells a variety of hat styles with burlesque and stage-performer flare in sequins and jaunty ostrich feathers. I liked these two classic Victorian style top hats with the unusual pleated ribbon detail.





Going lower in price still is another Gypsy Lady Hat in velvet--a plain mini-top hat. This would be the perfect basic hat for DIY interchangeable trim for whatever occasion.


And smaller and cheaper still, I found this adorable hand-blocked mini-hat by Kalandra Jane Designs, available through Ebay. I can afford this one. ;)



There are also basic black satin or velvet full-size top hats available on Ebay for around $20 and under which are made in China; I've had about 5 of them over the years--they always get  DIY-ified for some specific costume. The shape is OK, but not as pretty and feminine as these hand-blocked ones.



"I'm puttin'on my top hat Tyin'up my white tie Brushin'off my tails"

- Irving originally Israel Baline Berlin

'Top Hat, White Tie and Tails', performed by Fred Astaire in Top Hat.

Do you own a black top hat?
Which of these is your favorite?



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