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A Top HatFashion can be shocking. Someone walking down the street with, say, glittery MC Hammer pants on their head would probably get attention (except in New York). People might gasp, or stare, or point at the novel fashion item. What people won't do, however, is cry and shriek like they just saw Godzilla eating schoolchildren. But that's exactly what happened on January 15th, 1797.
John Hetherington was a haberdasher, which is an old-timey way of saying he sold clothes.
On this extraordinary occasion, he decided to don a new piece of fashion: a silk top hat. Taking a look at himself, Hetherington apparently thought he looked good enough to go out (which in 1797 just meant he didn't completely reek of feces.) So Hetherington took a stroll down a popular road with his top hat on, Monopoly-style. This is when hell broke loose in the most confusing manner possible.
People were sent into fits by the sight of the top hat. According to witness accounts, women fainted, children screamed and people got injured. An eyewitness also mentions that "dogs yelped," which is odd because modern dogs are not particularly concerned about high fashion.
Soon, police were called in to disperse the unruly crowd which had gathered to stare at a man's hat. Cops were so affronted by the shocking chapeau that they arrested Hetherington under the charge of breaching the peace.
Ah, to live in a time when "hat-wearing" was considered a dangerous crime.1 of 5
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