When Should You Take Off Your Hat?

July 8, 2013

When Should You Take Off Your Hat?

It starts in a familiar way: I was in a nice restaurant, and there before me was a young guy, apparently on a date, wearing a ratty old baseball cap. Blech.

As a guy whose hair is on the way out, I’m an advocate of hat wearing, for practical reasons as much as aesthetic ones. It’s really hard to put sunscreen on the crown of your head, especially when there’s still hair there. So: a hat. But when should you take it off? Leaving aside religious considerations, here’s the basics for men:

  • Wear your hat outdoors, remove it indoors.
  • It’s OK to wear it indoors if you’re in transit or transition – so if for example you’re waiting for the subway, you’re fine. That also covers, say, the lobby of an office building or the people mover at the airport. In those cases, remove it when you get there.
  • You can remove your hat when speaking with a lady, particularly one you don’t know, but I don’t think anyone would expect as much of you in 2013. Same goes for removing it when a lady enters an elevator.
  • Hat tipping is generally an acknowledgement – it means thank you, or good day.
  • Hat are removed when respect calls for it – as when the national anthem is played, when a flag is lowered to half-mast or similar.

But it’s really simple: men’s hats are outerwear. Generally speaking, they’re on outside, and off inside.

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