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Hat Etiquette for Men and Women

Do you have a hat fetish? I remember developing one after watching the elaborate hats the ladies wore in 'Titanic' and 'Shakespeare In Love'. But wearing hats is no simple job! This article tells you about the etiquette that must be followed by men and women while wearing hats.
Gauri Huddar
Hats can very well add a glamorous touch to your outfit, if chosen properly. They can be a statement of your personality, without you having to say anything. They can range in sizes, designs and color. If you are a quiet individual, a simple elegant hat in black and white can add that touch of class, or if you are brimming with enthusiasm for life and are very cheerful all the time, a production with lots of bright colors may just be the thing for you! Women have limitless options to satiate their sense of style, although the choices for men are a little more limited. But be it men or women, quiet hats or big colorful hats, no one can escape the fact that unless you know the etiquette that is to be followed while wearing hats, you could very well be stuck in an embarrassing social situation.
Hat etiquette was developed mainly as a way of showing respect, social grace, reverence, etc., although these etiquette were subject to change as time passed, and are now considered by many as a person's individual choice. Even so, it is better to be considerate of the situation you are in, as well of other people present. The etiquette for women are less stringent as compared to the etiquette for men, unless women are wearing unisex hats, in which case the same rules apply to both. In this article I am compiling a set of etiquette for people who wish to observe them. For those who don't, or are not in favor of 'old-fashioned' or 'redundant' rules, they do not apply. Since this is to some extent, a matter of choice, to each his own...
Hat Etiquette for Women
When Should Hats be Taken Off?
  • At weddings: According to tradition, the acceptable thing to do, is to remove your hat when the mother of the bride removes hers. It's OK to keep it on till then.
  • Large brimmed hats should not be worn after 5 pm.
  • At Home: Usually, no one wears a hat in their own house, although you can wear one on occasions when you are hosting a social gathering. If you are invited for lunch to somebody else's house, then depending on your host's preference, do the appropriate thing - leave it on if they don't mind, remove it if a hat rack is provided.
  • At Work: Hats should be taken off when you are working, unless you are required to wear hats as part of your professional dress code.
  • Hats worn explicitly to keep yourself warm or cool, should be taken off indoors.
  • Similarly, common sense dictates that you should take off your hat in places where you are permitted to wear it, in case it is blocking someone's view. Like in a theater or during a parade.
When Can Hats be Left On?
  • During the national anthem, or when you pass by the flag of the United States.
  • During social gatherings like society luncheons, high teas, etc.
  • During religious services or in any religious places like churches. (This rule varies according to religion.)
  • In auditoriums or movie theaters as long as you are not blocking anyone's view.
Important Tips
  • Women should never doff their hats at men!
  • You should remember to place any attachments to the hatband on the right side of the hat while accessorizing the hat.
  • A hat is usually not worn with a formal evening dress.
Hat Etiquette for Men
When Should Hats be Taken Off?
  • During the national anthem, men are required to compulsorily take off their hats.
  • When holding a conversation with a woman, it is considered rude and disrespectful to have a hat on.
  • In churches or during religious services, many religions require a man to remove his hat. (There are a few exceptions to this.)
  • Similarly, hats should be taken off during photo sessions, funerals, weddings, etc.
  • When you pass by the flag of the United States.
  • During meals or in restaurants (unless it's a fast food joint, in which case it can be acceptable).
  • In theaters, auditoriums, when working and indoors.
When Can Hats be Left On?
  • During outdoor activities such as sports.
  • In elevators in the absence of a woman.
  • During some religious ceremonies, if required.
  • In public buildings like airports, hotel lobbies, etc.
Important Tips
  • Even though it is a dying art, it is considered gentlemanly if you remove a hat when you are in an elevator with a lady, and also when a lady enters a room you are in. Tipping your hat to a lady when you pass her is another very charming gesture, and a gentlemanly thing to do.
  • Always remember to remove the hat in a way that hides the lining on the underside, and only makes the outside visible. Holding the hat across your heart when you are not wearing it, is appropriate.
  • Men should remember, that the accessories attached to the hatband need to be on the left side of the hat.
Hats are an absolutely delightful way to perk up an outfit! You can experiment with colors, sizes and be as innovative and bold as you want with different types of hats. Just stick to these simple etiquette, and you won't ever go wrong with a hat!