The top hat originates to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Primarily made of beaver felt, the top hat evolved into many different heights and styles throughout its two hundred year history. Top hats are currently made from fur felts, silk, and wool felts. During the middle part of the nineteenth century it became fashionable to wear a silk top hat, which caused the decline of the beaver trade in the United States. Silk top hats also became collapsible, allowing a gentleman to store it in his coattail while attending the opera.
Top hats are worn today for formal and special occasions, but they used to be everyday toppers during the eighteenth century. The Derby Hat surpassed the top hat in popularity during the late nineteenth century as everyday wear. Perhaps the most recognized style of top hat was the one worn by Abraham Lincoln, who used to store his papers and wallet in his hat. Abraham Lincoln's top hat was so tall that in the summer of 1862 a would-be assassin missed his head and shot a hole through his top hat.
Wikipedia: Top Hat