A top hat, beaver hat, high hat, silk hat, cylinder hat, chimney pot hat or stove pipe hat, sometimes also known by the nickname "topper", is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, predominantly worn by men from the latter part of the 18th to the middle of the 20th century.
By the end of World War II, it had become a rarity in ordinary dress, though it continued to be worn in specific instances, such as state funerals, also by those occupying prominent positions in the Bank of England and by certain City stock exchange officials. As of the early 21st century, top hats were 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 formal uniform of certain British institutions, such as Eton College and the boy-choristers of King's College Choir. They are usually worn with morning dress or white tie, in dressage, and as part of servants' or doormen's livery.
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 use of the top hat persisted in politics and international diplomacy for many years, including at U.S. presidential inaugurations, the last being worn at the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1961. The top hat also forms part of the traditional dress of Uncle Sam, a symbol of the United States, generally striped in red, white and blue.
The top hat is also associated with stage magic, both in traditional costume and especially the use of hat tricks.