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.