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Can I wear a top hat to black tie affairs?

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I own a top hat and would like to wear it en route to elegant dinners. How is it that this elegant accessory became restricted to morning dress? Surely, top hats were historically also worn with evening wear? Tell me I can wear a top hat to black tie affairs!

Yes, men did wear top hats with evening wear as recently as 100 years ago, but, surprising as it may sound, fashions change. Nowadays, top hats are, for most of us, strictly reserved for Halloween costumes and teenage Goth clubs. (I say for most of us because a few very wealthy people attend daytime horse-racing events a couple of times a year in England, where it's traditional to sport morning dress and a topper, but that's only in certain enclosures most of us will never be invited to.) I share your disappointment, but must tell you that if you try to revive the fashion you will only look like a clown.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy, was recently published.

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