Top Hat

While World Cup Fever has swept your home and your nights are awash with chanting fans and the hum of the vuvuzela, Little Dorrit Fever has infected my abode.

Fear not Dickensaphobes. Although I think this 2008 adaptation of Charles Dickens serial novel by television writer Andrew Davies for the Beeb has much to recommend it, I am not going to assail you with tales of Edmund Sparkler, Tattycoram or Cyrus Squickneedle (yes, I’m making up that last one).

I will focus on but a single element of Little Dorrit. Regency garb for men. The story is set in the 1820s and there are endless scenes of men scheming whilst wearing that era’s version of the top hat. Because I’ve only ever understood the top hat as somewhat of a fashion relic, I’ve never seen the attraction. My lefty-ratbag sensibility sees them as the kind of idiotic headgear some stiff would wear to an event such as Royal Ascot. Leaving aside Fred Astaire, I can’t think of anyone in the 20th Century who could truly bring off the topper.

But now I’ve seen it with the rest of the Regency schmutter, I see the point. Men, this is how we should dress for business (below). Forget the tie – pfffft! That pathetic rag of formality and servitude. We need to get kitted out in the full-on ensemble and then make plans in low tones in the streets and alleys from under the curled brim of our hat.

Good day, sir!

Mr Trivia

Mr Doyce and Mr Meagles dominating Mr Clennam (right) in their choice of millinery.

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