Top Hats: How Tall Should They Be?

In the world of fashion, trends are always on the move. In Western societies, the top hat emerged after a push for more formal accessories, eventually declining in popularity by today’s standards. However, the proper height for a top hat is a constant debate in the fashion industry. 

Top hats should be five inches (12.7 cm) tall, on average. In the hat’s earlier days, a seven or eight-inch (20.37 cm) was the norm. Some top hats are also collapsible, making them shorter when not on a head. However, fashion trends pushed this once bold hat into a shorter, less formal direction. 

Keep reading to learn more about the top hat’s origins, discussions on how tall the top hat should be, and what the hat looks like today.

Two men wearing top hats riding a carriage
@erikapesik via Twenty20

Top Hats Today

The top hat was initially adopted as an accessory to complete formal dress in Western societies. It was typically crafted from grey or black silk and remained popular until the 1960s when it declined to a part of a subculture. However, before the hat’s public downfall, the top hat was a less formal dress accessory in the 1920s.

After World War I ended, it was common for men to wear informal suits complete with a semi-formal black tie and a top hat on their head. 

The top hat is still common today in countries such as England, Finland, the United States, and Sweden as formal attire. Over time, shorter top hats have grown to be much more popular than the original stovepipe hat, which stood as tall as eight inches (20.32 centimeters) tall. Today, the top hat stands at an average of only five inches (12.7 centimeters) tall.

The decrease in top hat heights first began in the 1920s due to the growing demand for more informal accessories.

How Tall Is the Average Top Hat?

Today, the average top hat reaches a height of about five inches (12.7 centimeters). New top hat styles emerged for various occasions. For example, the grey top hat became popular in the 1960s for use in wedding ceremonies.

Another popular top hat variation is collapsible, sometimes known as the opera hat. This hat soared into popularity when opera-goers had to remove their hats carefully and store them below their seats during shows.


There’s no doubt that the top hat has played a significant role in shaping modern fashion. In fact, the top hat is still popular among many fashion-forward people today. However, as time has gone on, the top hat has seen a few cosmetic changes in response to modern culture and trends.

Today, the top hat stands at an average of five inches (12.7 centimeters) tall. For comparison, the top hat would typically reach up to eight inches (20.32 centimeters) in height before the 1920s. However, the height of the top hat decreased significantly in response to the demand for formal accessories at the conclusion of World War I.

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