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What To Do With Your Hat To Show Respect

what to do with your hat to show respect
  • Hats have come a long way from the essential article of clothing they once were.
  • The use of hats to show respect is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.
  • As the 20th century dawned on us, the role of hats changed with the times.

Nowadays, the majority of people wear hats for fashion, with the exception of a select few like baseball players and working cowboys, whose hats are functional.

Hats have come a long way from the essential article of clothing they once were. In modern times, hats are worn by both sexes for fashion and function. Knowing when to remove a hat is as important as wearing the right hat for the occasion.

The use of hats to show respect is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. It was expected of the gentleman to raise his visor with his hand to show his identity and when he began the military salute. Similarly, the knight from battle on entering the castle took off his helmet out of respect for the king. These military traditions, adopted by the nobles and their families, were passed down from one generation to another and eventually became part of modern cultural etiquette.

Medieval knights who failed to remove their helmets or lift their visors and identify themselves faced fatal consequences. Through the annals of history, hats have been used to identify social standing, and removing a hat was a gesture of respect.

Back in the “old days,” there were expectations on where men would have to take off their hats: in Christian churches, when they entered another person’s home or when greeting a boss, and always in the presence of a lady. Ladies, in contrast, enjoyed unfettered freedom from “hat rules,” wearing them whenever and where ever they wished.

 

Things have changed significantly over time, and many of these practices are now historical footnotes. Still, there are remnants of these customs, and today with our casual culture, men and women still remove their hats as a sign of respect. There are exceptions, though. Cancer patients, for instance, may keep their hats or caps on if they wish.

Here’s when it’s fine to wear your hat and when it’s not:

 

Men’s Hat Etiquette:

Men are allowed to wear hats in the following places:

  • Outdoors

  • When at athletic events, whether indoors or out

  • On public transportation

  • Inside public buildings like post offices, airports,  and hotel or office lobbies

  • On elevators

 

As a man, remove your hat, including baseball caps:

  • When in someone’s home

  • When at mealtimes, at the table

  • While being introduced, indoors or out. You are exempted when the weather is unpleasant.

  • In a house of worship, unless a hat or head covering is required

  • When you are indoors at work, especially in an office. Except when required for the job.

  • When you are in public buildings such as a school, library, courthouse, or town hall

  • When you are in restaurants and coffee shops

  • When at a movie or any indoor performance

  • When the national anthem is played

  • When the flag of the United States passes by, as in a parade

 

Women’s Hat Etiquette:

As a woman, it is acceptable to wear fashion hats but not baseball-style caps in the following places:

  • When in someone’s home

  • While attending luncheons, weddings, and garden parties

  • When at religious services

  • When out watching a movie or any indoor performance

  • When the national anthem is played

  • When the flag of the United States passes by, as in a parade

 

It is expected for women to take their fashion hat off:

  • When it blocks someone’s view. Especially at a wedding or in a theater

  • When indoors at work

If you are female, remember to remove baseball-style (unisex) caps:

 

  • When in someone’s home

  • During mealtimes, at the table

  • While being introduced

  • When in a house of worship. The exception is if a hat or head covering is required.

  • When you are indoors at work unless required for the job

  • When you are in public buildings such as a school, library, courthouse, or town hall

  • When you are in restaurants and coffee shops

  • When you are at a movie or any indoor performance

  • When the national anthem is played

  • When the flag of the United States passes by, as in a parade

Why Is Removing Your Hat A Sign Of Respect?

Where did taking your hat off indoors originate? It is widely acknowledged that removing your hat as a sign of respect traces its origins from medieval times. Back in the day, a knight lifted his face guard with his hand to identify himself. This was the precursor to the military salute. Knights from battle on entering the castle were expected to take off their helmets as a sign of respect to the king.

 

These military traditions were adopted by the nobility and their households and then passed down generations to become a part of the etiquette of modern culture.

As the 20th century dawned on us, the role of hats changed with the times. And so did their uses. From serving as armor for a battle, they became part of good hygiene. Hats were used as protection from industrial dirt in the cities and the outdoor work of rural life.

So, why is removing your hat a sign of respect? Old habits die hard. Hat wearers continued to tip or remove them when meeting someone to show respect or friendliness, much in the same way the knights lifted a face guard or a military salute. Indoors, you were expected to take off your hat out of respect for what goes on inside. You see back in the day, hats served their purpose outdoors.

Nowadays, the majority of people wear hats for fashion, with the exception of a select few like baseball players and working cowboys, whose hats are functional. It’s highly unlikely that pitchers and ranch hands would want to wear their sweaty, dirty hats at the end of their shift, but for other categories of folks, hats are simply a fashion accessory. From this perspective, the need for hat etiquette does not make sense.

 

It is not a crime to wear a hat indoors, but taking it off shows your level of respect for the society that you live in and its traditions of civility.

 

Why Is Tipping Your Hat A Sign Of Respect

 

Lets talk about that hat tip. A hat tip tells someone that you’re saying you respect them or their work. The hat tip has metamorphed, in polite society into a verbal idiom used to thank or congratulate. If you see “[H/T]” at the bottom of articles its the familiar hat tip that writers use to appreciate their original sources of information. So why is tipping your hat a sign of respect?

 

Hugely popular in Anglo-Western societies in the etiquette-obsessed 18th and 19th centuries, the custom of tipping, or doffing, one’s hat was a common practice of touching your hat or lifting it fully off your head as a polite hello or goodbye. The norm was to remove a hat fully (to doff it) in various formal encounters; mere tipping was fine for casual greetings.

According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable removing one’s hat is “a relic of the ancient custom of taking off the helmet when no danger is nigh. A man takes off his hat to show he dares stand unarmed in your presence.” This sheds light on the other moments when removing one’s hat was required like when entering a medical facility, a church, or when in the presence of a lady. It began as a demonstration of vulnerability and trust and eventually transforming into a casual show of politeness and etiquette.

For the respectable, hat-wearing gentry, the Victorians in particular, tipping one’s hat became an established custom. The tradition has been documented fairly consistently through the centuries, before and after the Victorian age. According to History Professor Penelope J. Corfield,  in her 1989 essay “Dress for Deference and Dissent: Hats and the Decline of Hat Honour”: “Above all, as the head was a symbol of authority, the covering or uncovering of the head, in Western society, was for men an important signal of relative status.” The concept and practices of “hat honor” was connected with the intricacies of bowing and had major social repercussions. 

Though casual and polite, hat-tipping spoke volumes by itself and showed a person’s tastes while at the same time allowing for a recognition of social status; if you were from the lower-class it was expected that you would be more elaborate in your gesture, removing your hat entirely, while those in the upper-class would only need to tip or even just touch their hat. If you aspired to climb the social ladder you had to study hat-doffing rituals so as to pass as having knowledge of etiquette.

Over time, the gesture changed for the common man. Erving Goffman, a Canadian-American sociologist, theorized that the hat-tip was used much more in the 19th and 20th centuries as a subtle signal to end a social encounter. You tip your hat; the other person gets the message its time to shut up. Goffman also made clear a possible distinction between greeting strangers versus true friends: you tipped your hat to a stranger, but you full-on bowed to someone you know.

 

The hat tip has continued to evolve as a method of non-verbal communication. Now, the classic hat-tip has changed to a simple nod of recognition. Like the old-fashioned etiquette move, it comes with both casual and formal forms, as well: nod up to greet your friends, nod down to acknowledge your boss. 

Remove Hat In A Restaurant.

Is it rude to wear a hat indoors? It is expected of a gentleman to remove his hat as he enters a building, be it a restaurant, home, classroom, theater, or church. This requirement covers baseball caps and casual hats. Hats are to be removed when inside, except for places that are more or less similar to public streets, for example, lobbies, corridors, and elevators in public buildings. In public buildings, the elevator is categorized as a public area and, therefore an area where a gentleman may wear his hat.

Etiquette dictates that a gentleman should take off his hat and hold it in his hand when a lady enters an elevator in any building which can be classified as a dwelling. He is allowed to put his hat back on in the corridor, which is equated to, but elevators in smaller buildings such as hotels or apartment homes tend to have the domestic character of a room in a house.

Do ladies remove hats for the national anthem? Men are supposed to remove their hats while the National Anthem is playing. A woman may leave her hat on while The National Anthem is playing when indoors unless the hat she is wearing is considered unisex, like a baseball cap. When wearing a unisex cap, a woman should follow the same guidelines as men.

Men’s hats are to be removed in the following circumstances: for passing the Flag and funeral processions, outdoor weddings, dedications, and photographs.

When you remove your hat, you are supposed to hold it in hand in such a way that only the outside of the hat and never the lining is visible.

For men, tip (or doff) your hat slightly, lifting the hat off your forehead when meeting a lady (remove your hat completely if you stop to talk). As well, tip your hat to “say” to anyone, male or female– thank you, hello, goodbye, you’re welcome or how do you do. You normally tip the hat as a normal gesture of politeness. As mentioned before, this hat tipping custom has its roots in military saluting, which evolved from the raising of medieval Knights’s face visors to show friendliness.

Women’s Hat Etiquette Guidelines

The social rules that are applicable to men do not lay the same weight of expectations on women. Women do not need to remove their hats indoors the way men do. With the exception of rain hats.

For women, dress hats do not necessarilly have to be removed. This etiquette rule grew out of the role of women’s hats as outfit-specific accessories instead of general ones. Whereas men enjoy variety when it comes to hats, with many hats available to match various outfits, women usually match only one hat with a single outfit. Going by this dictum, similarly, women’s hats worn strictly for warmth should be removed when indoors.

Hat Etiquette In Places Of Worship:

In Jewish synagogues, men are expected to cover their heads, and married women wear hats or scarves to signal increased modesty towards those other than the woman’s husband.  The small, round head covering or skullcap dorned by men is called a “kippah,” which means “dome” or “cupola.” The Yiddish word for the cap is “yarmulke.” The wearing of the yarmulke is a symbol of humility before God, a show of respect in a Jewish congregation, and a sign of recognition of something greater above oneself. This is the reason many male Jews wear a head covering whenever they are awake, except when bathing and swimming.

Women can wear hats in Christian churches but it is sometimes considered disrespectful for men to wear them. The ideal in a Christian church is for a man to remove and hold his hat during service.

In Muslim mosques and Sikh temples, head coverings are compulsory for both men and women.

Other Hat Etiquette To Note:

For men, put any ornaments or decorations on the left side of the hat. The opposite is true of women’s hats: hat pins and other ornaments should be placed on the right.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is cowboy hat etiquette?

As a cowboy, you are expected to take off your hat when you go indoors. Though not every cowboy does it, that’s the tradition.

In practical terms, every man decides for himself what’s appropriate.

 

Q: Is it proper etiquette to wear a hat in a restaurant?

No. Hat etiquette requires that you remove your hat when you enter a restaurant. In the US,  for instance, it’s not okay for men and boys to wear hats in upscale restaurants, even dress hats. The exception is for persons with cancer or alopecia or something similar. In which case, you should wear a dress hat or a cancer beanie. A woman or girl can wear a dress hat in the same situation. ill or not, and cancer beanies are always allowed, of course.

It is okay to wear a yarmulke, turban, or religious head scarf in any type of restaurant.

In a fast food restaurant, where the attitudes are much more relax, informal and casual, it’s okay for anyone to wear a hat in the US.

 

Q: Why do professional golfers take their hats off at the end of a round when shaking hands? Is it golf etiquette?

The habit of taking off your hat goes back to the beginnings of golf. Back in the day when it was mainly the nobility that could afford to play golf, it was customary for nobles and knights to remove their head coverings to show that they trusted the other person enough to approach them with their head unprotected. In the same way, removing your gauntlet or glove showed that you were unarmed. This carry-over has stuck to this day as a form of etiquette on the golf course.

 

Conclusion:

 

In summary, what should you do with your hat to show respect? Formal hats are not as popular as they used to be. More than ever, casual and practical hats are the norm now, if any hat is worn at all. Hats are predominantly fashion accessories that are not linked to status anymore. This decline in formal hat use is the reason why the once common practice of hat tipping is now less common. The more subtle nod to show respect has also replaced the more overt hat tip in this context.

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