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If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been a little confused about when you’re allowed to wear a hat and when you should take it off. Hat wearing etiquette dates back hundreds of years, and though there have been some changes due to the introduction of more casual styles like the baseball cap, the standards for hat wearing have remained relatively unchanged.
Below is a list of hat-wearing do’s and don’ts, so you can avoid being that guy or gal who breaches protocol.
- Wear your hat anytime you are outside.
- You can wear hats inside as long as the area you are in is considered a “public space” such as a hallway, elevator (when you’re alone or only in the presence of other men), or in a building’s foyer.
- If your hat has any decorations (barring ball caps or branded hats), the embellishments should be located on the left side.
- You can also wear your hats during sports events regardless of if they’re indoors or outside.
Not to Wear
- Don’t wear your hat when you’re being introduced to someone for the first time, and always remove your hat when you’re in the presence of a lady. Similarly, take off your hat when you see your employer.
- If you’re using the elevator and a woman joins you for the ride, remove your hat and hold it against your chest or pant leg. You can wear it again when you get to your floor’s hallway.
- Always remove your hat whenever you’re entering or eating in someone’s home.
- Do not wear your hat- no matter what style- during the national anthem or when an American flag passes by (in a parade, for instance).
- In Christian churches, it is customary to remove your hat, but some houses of worship allow and require a covered head. Make sure that you know the religion’s traditions before entering a house of worship with a hat.
- Take off your hat during photos, weddings, and funerals (unless the religion dictates otherwise).
- When you need to remove your hat in order to follow proper etiquette, make sure that you hold it in such a way that you don’t show the interior or lining of the hat. Simply take it off and keep it against your torso or pant leg.
- Women have a lot more leeway where hat-wearing is concerned. With the exceptions outlined in the “Not to Wear” section below, you can wear your hat pretty much anywhere you want.
- You can wear tasteful hats in Christian churches, and appropriate head coverings in Jewish temples or Muslim mosques. These places are considered sacred to those who attend them, so you should do your research about what is and isn’t appropriate before you show up.
- It is standard for decorations such as flowers, netting, and ribbons to be located on the right side of your hat.
Not to Wear
- If you’re wearing a baseball cap, all of the rules of proper male hat etiquette apply. That means that you should not wear a ball cap in a church, in a non-public area (offices, houses, etc.), during the national anthem, and all the rest.
- Similarly, if your headwear is specifically designed to keep you warm (i.e., fur-lined hats or ear-flap hats), you need to take it off when you are indoors. Also, if your hat is specifically designed to keep rain off of your head, remove it when you get into the building.
- Also, take your hat off, no matter the style, if you work indoors (unless the dress code requires it).
- If your hat is large enough to block someone’s view or get in the way, just remove it. This goes for events such as movies and plays and any other occasions where your brim extends quite a ways past your head. It’s just polite.
Other Things to Know
You can tip your hat one of two ways: lifting it up off your head with a nod and “hello” or dipping it slightly downward with a smile. Either way works, though lifting it up off your head is considered to be a little bit more formal. None of the above rules apply to cancer patients regardless of gender.
Now you know the rules of the game, you can wear your hat with greater confidence and even help others who are unsure about hat etiquette.