The symbolism of the black top hat has evolved through the centuries. During the height of its American popularity at the start of the 19th century, the hat was a status symbol worn by affluent men and politicians. President Abraham Lincoln helped make the hat popular.
For holidays like New Year's Eve, people wear plastic top hats to get in a festive mood. Wearing a fancy hat during these celebrations is in keeping with the saying, "Put your party hat on," which means, "Get ready to have a good time."
Top hats were also popular during in the decades leading up to World War II since they were considered the height of fashion at the time. Men also wear them to such events as the Royal Ascot racing event at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England, since smart dressing is encouraged.
Men and women may wear top hats for a novel effect or to deliberately stand out from the crowd since the hat isn't often worn in popular culture. People involved in the gothic scene might wear one to top off an outfit that has a cape.
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Christa Titus is a dedicated journalism professional with over 10 years writing experience as a freelancer with a variety of publications that include "Billboard" and "Radio & Records." Her writing has also been syndicated to such media outlets as the "Washington Post," the "Seattle-Post Intelligencer," the Associated Press and Reuters. Titus earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Rowan College.