Men with or without hats

Posted on 01/02/2017 in misc

nice hat

My wife bought me a flat cap for Christmas. It’s first hat I’ve ever owned that isn’t a baseball cap or a winter stocking hat. This led to me googling “men’s hat etiquette” because I was curious if it had changed since the men never wear hats indoors rule that I was taught as a kid.

After reading a few articles on men’s style blogs, and a surprisingly raucous debate at Metafilter, I have no more clarity into a definitive answer than when I did when it started. So from a personal standpoint I’m going to go with “it depends.”

Men’s hats were originally utilitarian items, much like an umbrella or gloves. They served a purpose that was only relevant outdoors, so there was no reason to ever wear a hat indoors. Men back in the day didn’t view hats as fashion accessories. They were more like tools. Women, on the other hand, often had their hats pinned into their hair and thus couldn’t take them off. From what I can tell, that is genesis of the difference in the rules for men and women.

However, it’s 2016, and hats are most definitely a fashion item for men now. If you are out clubbing and a fedora is part of your look for the night I can see the argument about keeping the hat on. Also, if you are out clubbing in a fedora you are a hipster, so you have bigger problems than hat etiquette ;)

So in no particular order, here are some thoughts on where it’s ok and not ok for guys to wear a hat.

The old school and obvious absolutely not locations of church, any sort of upscale restaurant that enforces a dress code, during the national anthem, and somebody else’s home still apply pretty much always.

Work is usually a no, but in the tech industry I wouldn’t think twice about a developer sitting at his desk hacking away in a hat, so your mileage may vary.

Restaurants depend on the environment. If you are meeting buddies at BWW to watch a game hats are completely ok I think. If you are meeting your girlfriend and her parents for dinner hats are a big fat no, unless you are trying to get out of the relationship, in which case, go for it.

I think you always remove your hat when entering a home, although if you are meeting at a friend’s house to watch your alma mater your school hat and other associated alumni paraphernalia are probably in bounds.

Pubs are a gray area. I can see the argument both ways. However, how many pubs in America actually have a hat rack available for customers? If a business provides no place for hat storage, does that justify wearing the hat in that business?

If you are walking down main street in and out of shops I think leaving the hat on instead of taking it on and off is perfectly ok.

As I’ve typed this I’ve started to see a pattern. I think the dividing line may be (more or less) public versus private spaces. Generally speaking, leave your hat on when in public, take it off in somebody’s private space like work or a home. Restaurants where the expectation is that anybody will just walk in (casual places, pubs, etc.) are hat ok, while places that expect or require reservations are less public and thus more like private spaces where hats should be removed.

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Also, because you’ve been humming the song ever since you read the title of this blog post...

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