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Hat Etiquette for Men or Take Your Hat Off In The House

When men stopped wearing hats in the 1960’s, a whole hat etiquette for men disappeared. Back in the day, a  man’s hat and how he wore it was a a subtle  guide  to the complicated social pecking order of the day. When a man left his hat on or when he removed it as a sign of respect, or when he just lifted or tipped it, spoke volumes to those who could read the signals.

Hats have made a big comeback lately, which is part of why this blog came into being.  They are especially popular  with Gen Y  celebs, and a whole new generation of men is embracing them. 

This  is just great, except that since these guys didn’t grow up with hats, they don’t know the etiquette and they don’t understand why older men( and women) who do know it are annoyed when they sit in church wearing a baseball cap or come to the family dinner table at Thanksgiving wearing a hoodie with the hood up.  They are not just wearing a hat.  They are making a big, non verbal statement about respect or disrespect( depending on how you want to look at it)

So, for those who don’t know as well as those who do, here is a primer on  the do’s and don'ts of hat wearing for men.

When a Man Should Take His Hat Off

A hat is first and foremost protection from the elements. Thus, the first rule of hat etiquette is that a man should remove his hat when he enters somebody’s home, including his own.  To leave it on insinuates that this house does not offer protection from wind, rain, or cold and worse yet, does not deserve respect.

image source

A man need not remove his hat when he enters a public place, however.  In places like airports,train stations, grocery stores, office building lobbies and elevators he can leave his hat on.

BUT, in a public place like a movie theater or restaurant where he will be sitting down and interacting with others, he needs to remove his hat.  A rule of thumb is that it is always rude to sit down to eat anywhere indoors — or even in front of the TV in your own home— wearing a hat.  The only place you can eat with your hat on is at a picnic on the grass and even that is iffy.  Otherwise, if a man is walking through a building or just passing through a public place, he can leave his hat on.  If he sits down to stay awhile, he should remove it.

Transient

I know it sounds complicated, but it isn’t really.  Removing your hat if you are a man is always a sign of respect to a person, place, or institution ( like the flag).  Leaving it on makes sense where respect is not necessary. Taking it off makes sense if you are going to sit and stay awhile or if wearing your hat might inconvenience others ( like in a theater).

Men should also remove their hats as a sign of respect in church, or at a parade when the American flag passes by,  when a publlic prayer is offered or any other ceremonial event from an outdoor building dedication to a graveside funeral service or beachfront wedding  as a sign of respect.

I. for one, am really happy to see men’s hats make a comeback.  I say bring back at least a little hat etiquette too.