Chefs wear tall white hats for tradition and practicality, keeping their hair secured and their head cool in hot kitchens. The color and size traditionally denotes the rank of a chef, and white has been the preferred color since the 19th century.
The history of chefs' garb is full of superstition. It is commonly believed that wearing hats became tradition for chefs in the court of King Henry VIII of England, who hated finding hair in his soup, but the practice has existed all over the world for centuries.
The style of the modern chef hat can be traced to Marie-Antoine Car?me, a French chef of the 19th century who made the color white fashionable, as well as the tall pleated style still used today. The height and number of pleats indicates status. The head chef's hat is tallest and is visible above the others, so he may be easily found in the kitchen.