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Hat Wearing Etiquette For Men

March 28th, 2006


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There are two degrees of politeness demonstrated by a gentleman wearing a hat:

  • Lifting or tipping it, which you generally do for strangers.
  • Taking it off, which you generally do for friends (or in some cases, as a sign of patriotism or reverence).
    Both are done as a sign of respect toward the other and dignity toward oneself.

    Tipping your hat is a conventional gesture, done by barely lifting it off your head with your right hand (or the left hand if the right hand is occupied): By the crown of a soft hat, or the brim of a stiff one. Your cigarette, pipe or cigar should always be taken out of your mouth before removing or tipping your hat. This is a subtle gesture that should not be confused with bowing.

    A man takes off his hat outdoors (and indoors):
    1. When he is being introduced to someone, or when saying goodbye to a woman, elder, friend or ;
    2. As a greeting when passing someone he knows, particularly a lady, on the street (In some cases, tipping or lifting a hat and bowing slightly may be used as a substitute for removing a hat, as a passing gesture);
    3. While talking, particularly with a woman, an older man, or a clergyman;
    4. While the National Anthem is being played, or the American Flag is passing;
    5. At a funeral or in the presence of a passing funeral procession,
    6. When speaking to another of a virtuous woman or a dearly departed loved one.

    A man tips or lifts his hat:
    1. When walking with a friend who passes a woman only the friend knows;
    2. Any time a lady who is a stranger thanks you for some service or assistance;
    3. Any time you excuse yourself to a woman stranger, such as if you accidentally disturb or jostle her in a crowd, or when you ask for pardon when passing in a tight space or when forced to walk between two people that are conversing, particularly if one is a woman;

  • 4. Any time a stranger shows courtesy to a woman you are accompanying, such as when a man or woman picks up something she has dropped, or a man opens a door for her or gives her his seat;
    5. When you ask a woman (or an elderly man) for directions.

    Indoors, a man should always remove his hat, (particularly in a home, church, courtroom or restaurant) except:
    1. In some public buildings or public places such as railroad stations or post offices;
    2. In the main parlor area of a saloon or general store;
    3. or while seated at the "lunch counter" of a diner or cafe;
    4. In entrance halls and corridors of office buildings, or hotels;
    5. In elevators of public or office buildings, unless a woman is present;
    6. If carrying packages, parcels or bags and both hands are occupied upon entry.
    7. If the man is an actor or performer and the hat is being worn as a part of a costume or performance.

    If in doubt, it is best for a gentleman to remove his hat indoors as soon as practical. It is considered a sign of contempt and/or disrespect to leave your hat on when it would be proper to remove it. These rules of course applied in the day when everyone wore hats. Rebelious liberals in the early 1960s began the movement of no hats, following the example of then President Kennedy. Today, hats do not signify a political stance, and do not signify RULES. However, there are times when it would seem appropriate to remove your hat. Today, hats, sunglasses, etc are accepted to be worn anywhere, anytime. What you wear and when you wear it are part of your individuality, and that's why hats are today again increasing in popularity. If everyone wore a hat, it really wouldn't be special, would it?



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