In the same way that the Welsh hat became a symbol of Wales, the top hat became a symbol of the Victorian Age throughout the expanding British Empire. However, surprisingly little has been written about its origins and development. Although there were changes in the shape of the crown and the brim during the late 18th and the 19th century, only those who could afford to keep up with the fashions wore the latest style. It seems very likely that many men bought just one silk top hat during their lifetime. Working men may have worn 2nd or 3rd hand hats. By the second half of the 19th century, almost every type of top hat was being worn.
The earliest were made of felt, but from the end of the 18th century, they were made of buckram covered in silk plush, the same materials of which Welsh hats were made.
Henderson, Debbie, The Top Hat, An Illustrated History (Ohio, 2000)
Loveday, R.S., The Tall Hat and its Ancestors, The English Illustrated Magazine, (1896), 276-282
McKnight, Penny, Stockport Hatting, (Stockport Community Services, 2000)
The Top Hat Shop – history of the top hat accessed 6.11.2015