Men’s style goes beyond fashion, and extends to how you show up and present yourself. That’s especially true when it comes to wearing a hat, because the vast majority of men these days commit hat etiquette mistakes every time they go out in public.
Classic etiquette connects back to authentic origins. Shaking hands is a good example. Extending the open palm started as a gesture of peace to show that you weren’t holding a weapon and evolved into the etiquette of the handshake. Similarly, the etiquette surrounding hats can be traced to the functionality of hats.
Hats are Outdoor Accessories
Historically, any kind of hat or cap was essentially made for outdoor wear. They were invented to keep the head warm in winter, dry in the rain, or shaded in bright sunlight. That’s the fundamental idea to keep in mind in order to understand why gentleman’s etiquette requires that you remove your hat when indoors. The exception is when you are seated at a public bar, because placing it atop the bar takes up too much space.
But if you’re in a bar that has old-fashioned hooks underneath it, which were first designed for women to hang a purse, you can hang your hat there. Just don’t forget it when you leave.
Caps are for Sports
Just because hats were made for outdoors doesn’t mean that they weren’t also designed with style and fashion in mind. The fedora has always been a beautifully stylish accessory, and some of the finest ones are made from ultra-luxurious cashmere. Even a cowboy hat, the perfect example of a hat made for protecting working men from the harsh elements, can be highly fashionable.
But caps are in a different category. They are generally made for sports like baseball or activities like driving with the top down. Unlike hats such as the fedora, caps were never meant for dressing up. So wearing one in a non-casual, business, or more formal setting can be a style mistake. That’s when you should choose a classic hat and leave the caps at home.
Even if your best-looking fedora is handmade from authentic Panama straw, you should not wear it year-round. Straw hats are made for warm weather. They are a handsome compliment to linen, cotton, and seersucker suits, or for casual attire like polo shirts and Bermuda shorts. Because they are breathable, they will keep you feeling cool and the brim will keep the sun out of your eyes.
Similarly, your finest black wool fedora should be reserved for cooler weather and wintertime. Dark colored dress hats are also appropriate for evening wear on a cool or cold night, and every man should own at least one.
Tipping Your Hat
When outdoors, it’s polite to tip your hat as you greet someone. Tipping the hat is a symbolic gesture, like a salute, and it represents removing it as you would do indoors.
If you’re superstitious, there’s one last rule. Never place a hat on a bed. That’s considered bad luck.
When you understand hat etiquette and how to observe it, you’ll get noticed and appreciated. Following these classic rules will set you apart from the crowd in ways that totally elevate your style.