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Top Hat 'n' Tails

1123 of 1160 nominations

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Top Hat 'n' Tails

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Top Hat 'n' Tails

Following Irving Berlin's song of 1935, the essential items that make up the outfit known as “top hat and tails” or “white tie” are: top hat, tails (a tailcoat), white bow tie and a stiff white shirt with studs. A low cut white waistcoat is also traditional. It is the quintessentially elegant formal outfit for any self-respecting gent. As an ensemble it is really a piece of costume history, a throw-back to Victorian times. The top hat was designed in 1797 by a certain John Hetherington, who was arrested and then fined for causing a disturbance the first time he wore it! But once Prince Albert had been spotted wearing one, toppers became all the rage – and they never really went out of fashion until the First World War. The evening tail coat (not to be confused with the morning coat) is a black double breasted jacket worn open, short at the front and with long “tails” at the back. It’s still seen today, in an elegant cut that hasn’t changed substantially since 1840. When kitting yourself out, you may choose to wear your top hat tilted slightly forward and to the side, to give you a dash of devil-may-care attitude!

Image: Topfoto.co.uk

NOMINATION 1123 OF 1160

Your comments

I nominate The Concierge in top hat and tails as an icon of England. When my aunts and uncles came to stay they could never understand why the man wearing 'top hat and tails' in England wasn't the top man like in Africa or the Caribbean."

Sam Walker - Director Black Cultural Archives Museum


Walk through the City of London and you will still see an occasional top hat. The black silk topper denotes a Government broker a Sterling broker. A top hat is worn to wedding, funerals and even race meetings.
Antony le Ray-Cook


As I write this comment, I'm humming the theme tune from 'Top Hat'. the thirties Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers movie. And that's why I don't think this is an English icon, as it's too international and not uniquely English
Roger Cornwell


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I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer

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