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Etiquette Hats Hat Hat Etiquette Society Rules when to Wear a Hat

Hats have more or less became a thing of the past. Very few men wear them anymore. Some women do, but they seem to be part of the outfit and rules of any kind do not apply at all. For the most part hats fell out of favor in the 1960s. That is to say, a hat that would match your suit. A real hat. Many men, including myself, wear one everyday. These are more like baseball caps than actual hats. Since almost no one wears them anymore, where can one look to find the correct etiquette for wearing one?

The fact that I know what the correct etiquette happens to be is proof enough. We need to look to the one place that has two things in common. The wearing of hats and the discipline to have (and follow) a set of rules. What it this place? The United States Military. Every branch has rules (although they may vary slightly) on the wearing of the hat as part of the uniform.

The most hardcore about the rules is the Marine Corps. (and they don’t refer to them as hats, they are covers). We can easily put these very formal rules into a civilian setting to give you the proper way to wear, as well as when to remove a hat.

First of all, if you are outside you would be wearing your hat. If there is no roof overhead, the hat should be on your head. If you walk indoors, you take the hat off. Depending on what the situation happens to be, most people will keep their hat in the left hand. This will allow you to shake hands with anyone that you happen to meet (or a friend you are seeing again).

While indoors, if a hat rack is available (or offered), it is up to you to use it. Many people will prefer to keep their hats with them. Many people will put the hat on their knee if sitting in an informal “living room” setting. The bright side to keeping your hat with you is that it gives you something to play with if you find yourself forgotten in the corner by a date or a spouse.

Under no circumstances (unless you find yourself armed with a weapon) would you keep a hat on your head while you are eating a meal. Depending on the occasion, sometimes you will actually sit the hat on the table. Other times it will be more appropriate to put it on your knee under the table.

That is the most serious of the rules regarding hats. The following ones will usually be appreciated but you will have to judge the situations as they come along. 

Tipping your hat. This stopped being done when hats stopped being part of everyday work dress. Most people will still wear baseball style caps but they are not tipped in the direction of a woman the way that a fedora would have been.

Removing your hat. This is a sign of respect. It doesn’t matter what style of hat that you are wearing, taking off your hat to talk to a woman or someone that is older than you (usually by several years, not just a few years your senior) shows respect to the person. In today’s society, the roles of men and women have become blurred. This is not a bad thing but it has changed the etiquette of hat wearing. No longer do men take their hats off every time they talk to a woman.

As far as an older woman or man, what may be considered elderly, it is the polite and respectful thing to do. Even if it seems strange to you, to them, it is what was done throughout their lives. You are showing respect by acknowledging their customs.

Because hats are not worn in the traditional sense anymore, that is about it. Even if they are baseball cap style hats, take them off when you walk indoors. Take them off when you are talking to an elderly person, and remember, just because you think a hat is funny, that doesn’t mean that everyone that reads it will.

Use common sense. If you are showing respect to a person or a place, you remove your hat. It is really that simple.