As of the early 21st century, top hats are still worn at some society events in the UK, notably at church weddings and racing meetings attended by members of the royal family, such as Royal Ascot. They remain part of the uniform of certain British institutions, such as Eton College. They are usually worn with morning dress or white tie, in dressage, the top hat was frequently associated with the upper class, and was used by satirists and social critics as a symbol of capitalism or the world of business. The top hat also forms part of the dress of Uncle Sam. The top hat is associated with stage magic, both in traditional costume and especially the use of hat tricks. According to fashion historians, the top hat may have descended directly from the sugarloaf hat, otherwise it is difficult to establish provenance for its creation. Gentlemen began to replace the tricorne with the top hat at the end of the 18th century, the first silk top hat in England is credited to George Dunnage, a hatter from Middlesex, in 1793. The invention of the top hat is often credited to a haberdasher named John Hetherington. Within 20 years top hats had become popular with all social classes, at that time those worn by members of the upper classes were usually made of felted beaver fur, the generic name stuff hat was applied to hats made from various non-fur felts. The hats became part of the worn by policemen and postmen, since these people spent most of their time outdoors. The 1840s and the 1850s saw it reach its most extreme form, with ever-higher crowns, the stovepipe hat was a variety with mostly straight sides, while one with slightly convex sides was called the chimney pot. It is said that Lincoln would keep important letters inside the hat, one of Lincolns top hats is kept on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Whether it directly affected or was coincidental to the decline of the trade is debatable. James Laver once observed that an assemblage of toppers resembled factory chimneys, in England, post-Brummel dandies went in for flared crowns and swooping brims. On May 5,1812, a London hatter called Thomas Francis Dollman patented a design for a round hat supported by ribs. His patent was described as, An elastic round hat, which may be made of beaver, silk, or other materials. The top of the crown and about half an inch from the top as well as the brim and about an inch, wide sewed on each side of the crown in the inside in an upright position. Then packed up for travelling, the double ribbon fastened under the band is to be pulled over the top of the crown to keep it in a small compass
theatrical release poster
The final supported backbend – Astaire and Rogers in the climax to "Cheek to Cheek"