Grandma pulled a hat box from the shelf. The shelf was so high I couldn’t reach it. I couldn’t even see what was on the shelf. She carefully opened the box and pulled out an amazing top hat. She brushed the fabric of the hat carefully with her hand and told me it had belonged to her father. It was in amazing condition. I asked her how old she thought it was….she didn’t know.
She remembers her Mother telling her the story of Fred, her father, picking her up for a date. They were going to a formal at the Masonic Lodge. Fred showed up wearing top hat, tails and white tie. I’m pretty sure he had a corsage or better yet, a nosegay of flowers for Great Grandma.
This was his top hat. She also pulled out his tails and white tie. Oh my. Delicious fine wool, perfectly tailored. Two waist coats, one in white, for white tie, and one in a beautiful charcoal grey.
Flash to many years later, I’m cleaning out Grandma’s house. Breaking up her housekeeping. In a dark, dry corner of the attic is a cedar enclosure. In it is the tuxedo, the top hat and 5 of my Mother’s formals. There are also costumes from Grandma’s days as a docent at various historical sites. I’ve hit the costume maker’s mother lode.
I wear the hat for steampunk affairs as often as I can. It’s worn now. It even needs repairs. Which might need to be done by professionals. Hat professionals. Maybe even top hat professionals. It’s covered with several events worth of glitter. I know that’s a shock. Here’s the beautiful top hat from Great Grandpa Fred with a few modern-antique-faerie twists.