There used to be a time when hat etiquette was much more important. In fact, during the early 20th century it was strange to be seen outside without wearing a hat. Times sure have changed since then. Not only are hat much less important now but hat etiquette has been forgotten. And while for the most part, our modern lives are very informal out of the workplace, there are still times when we should pay some attention to hat etiquette.
Let’s start with what I think is the most common rule of hat etiquette that is still practiced. Take off your hat for the national anthem. Of course most of the time you are going to be doing so is at some kind of sporting event where people are very casual but for whatever reason it has stuck around. A lot of people who enjoy going to stadium games feel some kind of patriotic duty to remove their hat for the national anthem.
But what else? A much more common occurrence but what I don’t see honored very often anymore is removing your hat while indoors. I’m not sure why but this rule has not stuck around. Especially for the baseball cap wearing crowd, no one seems to think twice about wearing a hat indoors unless there is some rule (say at school or work) where they are not allowed to do so. These rules are seen as very stuffy and old-fashioned by most young people today. An exception to this rule used to be that in public buildings a man could keep his hat on in hallways and corridors but would remove it once he entered a room.
So what about prayer? It seems to me that a lot of people do honor the rule of removing your hat during prayer. The nice part about this rule is that no one should have their eyes open to see your messy hat hair. And while it also seems that places and occasions where prayer actually takes place in public, such as churches and weddings, are the same times when people are not likely to be wearing a hat in the first place. I say this is a good one to follow.
Ah but last and definitely not least is this one: remove your hat at the dinner table. I don’t know why but this one seems like a good one to me that should stick around for good. Sitting down for a long period of time with the intention of sharing a meal with others seems like a great time to remove your hat. I’m not sure why it seems like the right thing to do but it just does.
So whether it’s a leather fedora or a casual cap, it’s still a good idea to honor some of those old rules. You won’t lose out on much and you may gain the respect of someone a little wiser than you that remembers when everyone paid attention to these kinds of things.
This news piece was forwarded to me and I had to share it! Apparently you need to be careful where you sport a hat, as Beau Davis, an activist in Keene, New Hampshire found out! When the bailiff asked Davis to remove his baseball cap and Davis refused, the bailiff arrested him for contempt of court! Now I’ve spoken before about proper hat etiquette, but I did not think poor hat etiquette could get you arrested!
To me there are 2 huge bits of irony in this story:
When it comes to being respectful with your headwear, there is a large degree of subjectivity. In early colonial times, if you were a man of high society, you were expected to wear your wig indoors. Benjamin Franklin was well known for wearing coonskin caps both indoors and outdoors. Yes, he was involved in America’s decision to rebel against Britain, but I would not consider him disrespectful! For some Christians, it would be disrespectful for a woman to have her head UNCOVERED in public. So though we should be cautious of social norms, we live in a country of great liberty of expression. I would not want to offend others by how or where I sport my favorite fedora, but please do not think that someone is TRYING to offend you by how or where they wear a hat.
As activist website www.freekeene.com reveals, within 5 minutes of the arrest, another officer is seen wearing a beanie inside! Oh the irony!
Please enjoy this footage of the arrest.*
*Note: HatsRCool.com is not a politically driven website. I just found this hat-based arrest to be silly.
Most commonly associated in America with ice hockey, the term “hat trick” does not refer to a magician’s pulling of a rabbit out of a hat, but rather refers to a sports participant who scores (or achieve some like positive feat) three times during one game.
While the term was first used in cricket in 1858, the term gained its modern popularity in the National Hockey League circa 1940. A Canadian businessman promised to deliver a free hat to the player who could register three goals in the same game. A player named Alex Kaleta was the first to earn a hat when he played against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the term stuck. The term has since expanded beyond hockey to many other sports including soccer, baseball, and rugby.
NHL hockey tradition dictates that fans throw their hats on the ice after the third goal by any player. It is unclear whether fans wear inexpensive and easily replaceable hats in anticipation of such an event, or whether they are simply swept away by the moment. If you were wearing a new Civil War Hat or your favorite fedora, would you toss it onto the ice? Or would you know enough to not wear them to a hockey game to begin with? Also—what does an NHL team do with several hundred or more used hats? Throw them away? Donate them to a thrift store? Put them in the lost and found? I would have to think that a team would be hard pressed to throw away hats with the team logo on them. More investigation is required. But I can say this much, those Hockey Players aren’t going to be throwing out their ventilated hard hats anytime soon!
When is it appropriate to throw one’s hat? Is it ever appropriate? Whether it is socially acceptable or not, people have long been throwing hats, and for all kinds of reasons.
The most common hat throwing tradition seems to be at high-school and college graduations with the mortarboard hats. The congratulations are issued, everyone moves the tassel from one side to the other and zing! Off go the hats.
When a baseball player hits a game-winning home run, he will toss his helmet. When the San Francisco Giants recently won the World Series, they tossed their hats in the air. Football players are penalized for throwing or even removing their helmets on the field after one too many errant celebrations and taunting incidents in recent history.
When a hockey player manages to score three goals in any one game, it is called a hat trick, and in the National Hockey League, the expectation is that everyone in the stands removes their hat and tosses it onto the ice, creating quite a spectacle, and quite a mess. In an array of professional sports, when the referee has been deemed to make an odious and detrimental call, fans will sometimes rain down hats onto the field, court or playing surface, temporarily halting the game. In fact many people have been known to toss their hat or cap in a fit of rage when in an argument with a significant other, street vendor, or the like.
The screen villain Oddjob, of James Bond fame had a lethal hat fitted with a blade which he would throw, decapitating his targeted aggressors. The hat ranked tenth in a recent 20th Century Fox poll of the most popular film weapons of all time.
As for my own hat-throwing fame? I can knock a Frisbee out of a tree with two tries when I am wearing my Indiana Jones hat; only one try if I am wearing one of my Camo hard hats.
When it comes to etiquette, no item of apparel has functioned, historically, quite like a hat. You don’t “tip” a scarf or “doff” a shoe. When a gentlemen goes indoors, it is not his socks or belt he is expected to remove, but his hat. Can you imagine if every time the national anthem played, men had to temporarily remove their pants?
Hat rules—there used to be plenty of them. But it seems that in recent times, ever since the traditional role of hats faded along with their sales and popularity some 40 years ago, the rules have been diminished or forgotten altogether. Today, more lenient rules apply, but don’t be surprised if an elderly person who grew up with a different set of rules scolds you when you don’t remove your hat in an elevator. Even if it is a more modern pink cowboy hat or tilley hat.
The most popular rule was the practice of doffing a hat or cap, which is thought to have emerged from a time when knights would lift the metal visors of their armor as a social gesture. For a long time it was considered a courteous and acceptable form of flirtation. This is seemingly long gone.
Hat-wearers long had to remember when putting something on the hatband, that anything placed in the band of a man’s hat had to be on the left side, and anything on a woman’s hatband had to be be on the right.
Still, most of the rules applied to men. Ladies’ hats were often more difficult to remove, whether fastened with pins or bows, and often caused more difficulty, considering the sorts of elaborate flowers or other decorations adorning the hat.
Maybe the age of chivalry is dead, but it is not all bad news. Historically, hats worn by all men and women when outside the home was a matter of personal hygiene.
Gentlemen’s Quarterly put out a great article recently on implementing a hat into your fashion for this fall. One of the opening premises is that, if you find a terrific hat and fork out the money for a quality one, it will last you for years to come, and should be able to be worn in different styles. I find this to be absolutely true, but really appreciated some of the examples and emphases they provide.
Take the fedora for example (it is the most popular formal hat out on the streets these days). Being that it’s fall, and the weather is cooler, people will be opting for a felt hat, as opposed to spring and summer, when straw fedoras will abound. So you decide to get a high quality felt fur fedora that matches your face and fits just right. Well, this hat should be able to work as
well with a suit and tie as it does with a t-shirt and jeans for the fellas. Similarly, you ladies should be able to wear a fur felt fedora with as much grace in an outfit you’d wear to a fine restaurant as you will be able to in an outfit you’d wear shopping around town or to a Lakers game.
As you can see in the above photo, try cocking the hat to the side a bit, with it leaned slightly forward when you are dressed formally. It gives you a bit more of a serious look. You will end up looking a little goofy if you wear the hat tilted back in formal attire. So think Don Draper when wearing a fedora while dressed up.
Do not be afraid to wear that same fedora while out on the town in your casual attire. But you’ve got to pull it off differently. Wear the fedora leaned back a bit, and centered over your head, rather than tilted to the side. This will keep you from looking too serious, so you match the easygoing look of the casual clothes.
So when you’ve spent the time and money procuring a must-have hat to accessorize with your outfits, fee free to use the same high quality felt fedora in various contexts. Just be aware of how to pull it off so it is the proper compliment, as opposed to contradicting the rest of your look.
Texas Rangers Pitcher, Cliff Lee, is one of the fiercest pitchers in baseball these days. And his hat has become the target of plenty of controversy recently. The bill of his cap is smudged with white stuff, and some conspiracy theorists think he’s got some sort of concoction that gives him a little extra advantage from the mound. Most people are comfortable attributing the white stain to sweat and rosin.
Pitchers are allowed to have a rosin bag right behind the mound, and use it all they want for their hand, just not allowed to rub the ball in rosin. But some people even think the high amount of rosin and sweat on the bill of Lee’s hat is giving him that extra oomph he needs to have an unfair advantage against the batters. In a sarcastic response to the questions, Cliff Lee said:
It definitely makes me way better. I know that much. Without that hat, I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t know. It’s rosin is what it is. I go to the rosin bag quite a bit. I touch my hat in the same place over and over. And it just accumulates. I couldn’t pitch without it for sure.
Most people, including the Manager of the Yankees, are not bothered by the soiled hat. And if anyone should be concerned, it’s the Yankees… they are currently down 3-2 in the ALCS, one loss away from elimination from the playoffs. But they realize that Cliff Lee is just a terrific pitcher, and he’s not trying to gain the upper hand with his hat concoction. The more naive sports watcher might say, “why doesn’t he just wear a clean hat each game?” But those who know how superstitious athletes are, know that you don’t demand someone to change their ritual! How many people have a lucky hat? Rally Cap? Remember Jerry Sloan’s lucky John Deere hat? If Cliff Lee wants to wear a dirty hat all season, more power to him. Heck, if he wants to wear a pink hard hat when he’s off the mound because he thinks it keeps his luck alive, that’s his prerogative! Go Rangers! And go unique “good luck hats”!
This is a great video piece done by an LA news channel on the rise of hats as a fashion statement. They visit a couple hat shops in LA and show unique hats from flat hats (cadet cap, newsboy hat, ivy cap, driving cap) to cloche hats to fur or coonskin caps to the ever-so-popular stingy brimmed fedora. Watch closely and you can catch Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town) wearing a driving cap. I’m used to seeing him in the classy fedoras, but he pulls off the look of the flat cap as well.
My favorite line from the video is the hat advice, “For women, as the days get shorter, the brim should get smaller.” A great piece of practical fashion advice. Notice the switch from the wide brimmed sun hat to the cloche hat. And if you aren’t brazen enough to wear a cloche, there are tons of cute beanies out there for you ladies, as well!
Another great line from the piece: “You know, you have bad hair days, and you’ve got to wear a hat!” Be prepared for a bad hair day with a great looking hat!
With this post, I’m primarily focusing on Men’s Hat Etiquette
We are experiencing a formal hat revolution. But it’s a new generation of hat-wearers. And we live by different rules of etiquette. What was inappropriate 50 years ago might be just fine today. But were to you draw the line?
In the earlyl 1900′s, there were very strict rules not only as to when to tip your hat or take it off, but even as to what time of year you were allowed to wear what hat. There were strict seasonal cutoff dates for various types of hats. For example, men knew that after April 15th, it was no longer acceptable to don a fur felt hat, but were expected to put it away in favor for a straw hat.
I love watching Mad Men and especially paying attention to the hat etiquette. Don Draper is sure to tip his fedora to a lady, and typically removes it as soon as he enters the door at home. But are there the same standards in 2010 as the 1960′s? I never see someone tipping their hat to a lady, but does that mean it’s okay to wear your hat inside? At dinner? In church?
Obviously, modern America is much more casual. But here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
Take your hat off when being introduced to someone or meeting someone new. You want them to be able to see your face. It’s more inviting, and then they’ll have a better chance of remembering your face next time if you’re not wearing your hat.
Take your hat off when sharing a meal with someone. If you’re at McDonalds, you an keep it on. But when you sit down to a meal at a restaurant or at a home, it is still expected for a man to remove his hat.
Indoors at work. Ok. If you work environment is casual, you can probably keep it on. But if you have to wear dress clothes, even dress casual, you really should take your hat off when you get in to the office.
During the National Anthem or when saluting the flag. I guarantee someone at the ballpark will take offense if you keep your baseball cap, beanie, or dress hat on during the singing of the national anthem. So even if your intention isn’t to be disrespectful, you should take off the hat.
This is by no means the surefire way to keep from offending people. Different generations have different expectations. As do different church services, work environments, etc. But this is at least a short list of times you should expect to drop the hat, at least briefly.