Bowler hat vs Top hat is an open and shut case. By looking at these two, it is easy to identify which is which. There are worn on different occasions, have different shapes, and very few similarities. However, it is also true that the bowler hat is a variant of the top hat because they have a similar structure. It is important to understand the differences and figure out which hat is more suitable for the occasion.
The Main Difference
The shape of the crown makes all the difference in the Bowler hat vs Top hat debate. This is the reason why it is so easy to identify which is which.
The top hat has a flat crown, while the bowler hat has a rounded and a shorter crown as compared to the top hat. Precisely, the top hat crown is at least 5.5 inches high, while that of a bowler hat is somewhere around 5 inches high.
There are several other differences between these two hats, which make it interesting and necessary to pair these correctly with your attire.
What’s More Formal Bowler Hat or Top Hat?
Although the Bowler hat is a successor of Top hat, Tophat is a formal hat, while a bowler hat is a casual or a semi-formal hat. Because of this reason, the materials used in the production of these hats also vary. Top hats are generally made from silk to give them a shiny and formal look. In contrast, Bowler hats are made from less expensive materials such as felt or wool.
What Is a Bowler Hat?
A bowler hat is a rounded crown hat with slightly raised brims. It is appropriate for an informal and semi-formal occasion. It is a successor of Tophat and is sometimes referred to as its close cousin.
The Rise & Fall Of Bowler Hat
It is a relatively younger hat as it originated almost five decades after the top hat in London in the mid-1800s. One of the main reasons for this development was that a shallow crown that wouldn’t get stuck in low-hanging branches while horse-riding.
Bowler hats first became popular in working class men, but in the 1900s, they became an unofficial uniform of businessmen, traders, financiers, and bankers. However, around the 1970s, these went out of vogue and are still now very fashionable.
These hats got so well associated with horse-racing that they acquired the nickname as ‘Derby.’ These fitted very tightly and, therefore, couldn’t fly away easily.
Bowlers were also a part of women’s fashion in the 1920s. One of the most popular adorning this hat was one of the greatest comics of all times, Charlie Chaplin.
Interesting Facts About Top Hat Construction
- Bowler hats have brims that are slightly raised upwards
- The brim is 2 inches wide
- They have a shallow, rounded crown
- These are very sturdy and durable, almost like a soft helmet
- These usually have a grosgrain ribbon around the crown
- These are made from hard felt
What Is a Top Hat?
A top hat is a traditional formal hat worn on very special occasions with a three-piece tuxedo or a suit. It is the magician’s hat from which he pulls out the rabbit.
The Rise & Fall Of Top Hat
It is believed that the top hat originated in the late 1700s and descended from Sugarloaf hats. It took close to 30 years by when Top hats had become extremely popular among people of all classes.
Originally, the hat was made from felt beaver fur and therefore was warm too. However, as the fashion evolved, silk hats became more popular. Most of the time, the blacktop hat is considered the most formal hat; however, it is made of the right material, even grey is considered formal.
The top hat was the predecessor of the famous stovepipe hat worn by Abraham Lincoln. In the 1800s, Top hat was a symbol of nobility and upper class. Even Prince Albert, the husband of the Queen Victoria of England, wore it. However, by the end of WWII, Top hat lost its significance and was limited to diplomatic leaders and other such people of position.
A very recent example of wearing the Top hat was The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. All male dignitaries and guests adorned the hat appropriate for the occasion.
This concludes that Tophat is a formal hat.
Interesting Facts About Top Hat Construction
- Top hats have brims that are slightly raised upwards
- The crown is wider at the top and narrower at the bottom
- The crown has been losing height over different eras, originally it reached a 7 inches height, but it reduced to 5 inches
- Initially, these were not foldable, but as their popularity increased, Opera hats came into existence. These could be sprung down to pack while traveling and sprung back up to their original shape when required to be worn
- These have a grosgrain ribbon or a bow to make them more decorative
Richard Nixon, J.P. Morgan, Winston Churchill are some big names to have worn this hat.
Bowler Hat Vs Top Hat
|Comparison Properties||Bowler Hat||Top Hat|
|Uses (for)||Semi-formal, Casual, Derby Events||Formal, Period Drama, Theatrical Performances, Magic Shows|
|Advantages||The short crown fits in low height areas, sturdy and durable, vintage appeal||Elegant and formal looking, Perfect for winter|
|Disadvantages||Not in vogue for quite some time now||Not in vogue for quite some time now|
|Durability||Relatively more durable||Relatively less durable|
|Weight||Relatively heavier||Relatively lighter|
|Waterproof Material||Waterproof if made of polyester||Not waterproof|
|Reflective Material||Non-reflective||Reflective if made of silk|
|Care and Maintenance||Less care required, hand wash possible with some materials||More care is required as these are generally made of silk and wool|
|Weather||Mostly warm weather||Mostly cold weather|
|Availability||Not many styles are available as they are less fashionable; however, as they are unisex, so more colors and decorative pieces are available||Not many colors or styles are available as they are less fashionable; however, the existing styles are readily available for the established niche markets|
|Prices||$10 – $120||$10 – $110|
What Are Bowler Hats for?
Bowler hats are most suitable for informal or semi-formal occasions such as horse races and daily wear. Both men and women can wear these, so they come in many styles and colors. However, this hat’s popularity has reduced over time, and therefore, these are not so readily available.
What Are Top Hats for?
Top hats are for formal occasions only. These are worn by men and is not a part of women’s fashion. This hat’s popularity has also reduced, but even now, these are a part of some traditional dress codes, such as an English upper-class wedding. This is associated with nobility and is therefore made out of expensive materials.
The Best Bowler Hat
This is a classy black Bowler hat made of 100% polyester. It is adjustable and fits most adults and teens. It is an amazing gift or a costume party accessory; however, it can be worn to semi-formal and casual occasions as well in the form of a fashion accessory. It is hand-wash and requires lower care or maintenance. It gives the wearer a classy and vintage look.
This is a very classy bowler hat made from 100% Australian wool; therefore, it is appropriate for the winter and fall seasons. It has a 1.74 inches brim and a 5 inches crown. It comes in a stylish mud brown color with an even more stylish ribbon and a braided accessory around the crown. The crown is crushable, which makes it easy to carry. It has a cotton sweatband, too, to avoid ruining the inside of the hat because of sweat.
The Best Top Hat
This is a butler or magician costume hat in classic black color. It is perfect for costume parties and gives the wearer a vintage look. It is decorated with a sleek ribbon around the crown, which adds to its formal look. It is made of felt and will fit most adults. Children and teens can also wear it. The wearer can be the character he plays, in style.
This is a 100% wool top hat of the best quality with a smooth leather sweatband. It is decorated with a ribbon and a bow, making it ultra-formal. The brim is 2.5 inches, and the crown is 6.5 inches and flared at the top. It is perfect for cold weather and comes in two very stylish colors. The wearer will stand out wearing this, and it will go very well with his formal attire. It is also perfect for theater performances.
Both Bowler and Top hats have a vintage appeal. Even though they are not in vogue anymore, they create a rage when they were in style. While the top hat is still a symbol of royalty, the bowler hat is more of a fashion accessory now.
If you want to attend an extremely upscale event such as the Royal wedding, then Top hat is your obvious pick. However, if you want to pick a casual and vintage look, pick a bowler hat. You may even fit in the crowd by wearing a bowler if you go to the Derby races. Fashion keeps evolving, so don’t hesitate to give these a shot; maybe you ensue their revival.