Top hats and derby hats are the perfect finishing touch for all kinds of character costumes and period outfits. Black ones work well with historical outfits and colorful ones are a dramatic touch for all kinds of entertainer costumes.
Traditional top hats and stovepipe styles are black felt with tall cylinder centers. They were worn by gentlemen in the late 18th Century through to the early part of the 20th. These tall hats are iconic of formal attire of those days and are often associated with the upper class. Wear a tophat with an Abraham Lincoln costume or any period gentleman's outfit.
Top hats are also common among entertainers and as dramatic additions to flashy costumes. They are an almost essential prop for a magician costume. They are available in many colors besides black. They are also sometimes covered in glitter. These styles are great for clowns or Mardi Gras costumes. Women's top hats are often tiny and held on by pins or a headband. If you're dressing as a leprechaun you'll need a green top hat, and if you're going to wear an Uncle Sam costume then a red, white, and blue stovepipe hat is a necessity.
Derbies are similar, only they are rounder and not as tall. They were first worn in Victorian England by working class people and later by the upper class. They were also popular in the Wild West and actually more common than a cowboy hat. Wear a black or brown derby with a Victorian, western, or steampunk costume for an authentic look. Wear a colorful one with your Mardi Gras or clown costume.