15 January, 2021

January 15, 1789


The “Top Hat” is worn in public for the first time.

Apparently, it caused quite a stir.

[T]he man who gave it a head start into fame and fashion was haberdasher John Hetherington who, on this day, appeared in court after he had stepped out onto the streets of London wearing the distinctive headgear. It caused a sensation.

So much so that a crowd formed and Hetherington was eventually arrested and given a summons for disturbing the public peace. In court, found guilty of wearing a hat “calculated to frighten timid people”, he was bound over to keep the peace in consideration of a sum of 50 pounds.

The arresting officer told the court that nobody had seen anything like it before: “He had such a tall and shiny construction on his head that it must have terrified nervous people. The sight of this construction was so overstated that various women fainted, children began to cry and dogs started to bark. One child broke his arm among all the jostling.”

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