Custom patches on hats have become more than just a fashion…
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been a little confused about when you’re allowed to wear a hat and when to take it off.
This may seem like just another minor decision, but it’s not. People see you as respectable when you follow the correct etiquette. Of course, you won’t face fatal consequences for not following hat-wearing standards. But there are still situations where not getting it right can leave you feeling awkward and embarrassed.
Take, for instance, donning a hat at some religious services. That’s not advisable. Doing this can accidentally offend anyone in such a sensitive setting. You don’t want that.
The good thing is that despite the introduction of more casual styles (e.g., baseball caps), hat-wearing standards have remained relatively unchanged for several centuries.
So, in this article, you’ll find a list of hat-wearing dos and don’ts. By the end, you can easily avoid being that guy or gal who breaches protocol.
To begin, let’s explore an important centuries-old etiquette – hat-tipping
What does Hat Tipping Practice mean?
Hat tipping is the act of touching your hat or lifting it off your head as a way to greet and show appreciation or respect to others:
Hat tipping shares its origin with military saluting – a friendly exchange between knights.
In medieval times, knights raised their helmet visors to express friendliness or acknowledge someone of higher authority. Gradually, civilians adopted this gesture by tipping their hats to show respect and politeness in various social interactions.
As mentioned before, hat-tipping can be done by lifting or touching the hat. The former is for more formal occasions. So, reserve it for situations like when:
- Passing or greeting someone in a position of authority (e.g., a policeman) or noteworthy positions (e.g., a clergyman).
- You do something that needs an apology—for instance, accidentally bumping into someone.
- Passing a Catholic Church. Catholic men often do this as a gesture of respect to Jesus Christ.
- You interrupt a female stranger in public, probably to ask for directions.
Conversely, a touch on the brim works for informal occasions. For instance, greeting a male friend in public.
Hat-Wearing Etiquette for Men
For starters, do remember that it’s better to take off your hat if you’re not sure whether wearing it is appropriate. It’s better to be over-polite than cause a scene.
As a rule of thumb, wear your hats in public buildings, not private ones. Private spaces are where people work, live, or pay an amount before entering. Anything apart from this is typically considered public.
With this in mind, here are some situations where you may or may not wear your hat.
- Wear your hat anytime you are outside.
- You can wear hats inside as long as the area 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 decorations (barring ball caps or branded hats), the embellishments should be on the left side.
- You can also wear your hats during athletic events regardless of if they’re indoors or outside.
- Additionally, it’s considered appropriate to wear a hat in any form of transit, whether private or public transportation.
Not to Wear
- Don’t wear your hat in private places like hospital buildings, hotel lounges, pools, and clubs with specific members.
- 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 when entering someone’s home or at their dinner table.
- 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 you know the religion’s traditions before entering a house of worship with a hat.
- Take off your hat during photos, weddings, and funeral processions as a sign of respect (unless the religion dictates otherwise).
When you need to remove your hat 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.
Hat-Wearing Etiquette for Women
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 research 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.
- It’s also an act of formality for women to wear hats to weddings. The hat should also be kept on until the bride’s mother removes her hat.
Not to Wear
If you’re wearing a baseball cap, all the rules of proper hat etiquette for males apply. That means 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.
That said, here are some other essential etiquettes to note.
- 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 designed to keep rain off your head, remove it when you enter 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, plays, and other occasions where your brim extends past your head. It’s just polite.
Other Things to Know
You can tip your hat one of two ways: lifting it off your head with a nod and “hello” or dipping it slightly downward with a smile. Either way works, though lifting it off your head is considered a bit more formal.
None of the above rules apply to cancer patients regardless of gender.
Understanding the proper hat-wearing etiquette can help you garner admiration and respect. However, inadvertently getting it wrong can lead you to awkward moments which you don’t want.
For the gentlemen, wear your hats only in public spaces and don’t wear them in private spaces. Remember to tip your hat in certain situations mentioned in this guide. For instance, when being introduced to someone for the first time or in the presence of a lady or employer.
Women, on the other hand, have more freedom in hat-wearing choices. But if you’re wearing a baseball cap, men’s rules also apply to you. Also, be mindful of the appropriate covering in religious settings and the placement of decorations on your hats. These can add to your grace and elegance.
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.