Men in hats

I received the following question and am posting my answer regarding the dress codes for men and hats. I hope the answer gives you a deeper understanding of why this is an important question.

Question: “Sandra, In this modern day and age is it ok yet for younger men to wear their hats inside of buildings? Are there some buildings that are ok while others are not?” Brad F. from Washington  

Answer: Thank you for the question. Hats certainly serve a function and have a place in the wardrobe. This is why some men still wear a brimmed hat–it protects their heads from the weather. How nice of you to inquire about hats in an era when some men (from lack of training or forethought)  think the hat, notably a baseball cap, is another body part and not detachable.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I too, own several baseball caps, but they, like all hats, are basically outdoor apparel. Thus certain dress codes apply.  “Modern” is beside the point. It’s  a matter of respect and rightness plus a little dignified common sense.  Don’t be deceived. Much in modernity is wrongly based.

Men, who understand this,  practice common courtesy and remove their hats according to some sensible rules. This applies to baseball caps, which have become a standard accessory for many people, both male and female. Still, this American favorite remains in the category of casual, outdoor wear, and as such should be removed when indoors. This includes when eating,  in a place of worship, in a school, in public buildings, a home, or office. More than once, an embarrassed fellow has been asked to remove his hat in a restaurant simply because no one ever taught him that is the man-nerly and man-ly thing to do.  This rule also applies in elevators unless its very crowded. In that case, the hat then stays on.

Yes, there are several exceptions to the indoor rule: The cap may remain upon the head inside a sports arena or stadium for a sports event, but come off while the National Anthem is played.  A few etiquette writers make exceptions for younger boys to wear their hats in a fast food restaurant, but this is counter-productive to training goals for our future men. It sends a wrong message to our youth that they are excluded from a responsibilty to practice civil rules.  A man may also keep his hat on when there is no place to check or hang the hat. His head is better than the floor for obvious reasons. One favorite gentleman expert (in the minority on this issue) also includes a balding man to his exception list. I’m not sure if this is because he is compassionate or balding. Perhaps he is both.  His point, however, is well taken that there may be another issue at hand .

The general rule governing hat removal indoors stems from appropriateness and function. This is because hats (outdoor garb) can be distracting or block someone’s view when worn inside.  Importantly, taking the hat off represents an attitude of ready attention and respect. Removing a hat whenever meeting anyone or during introductions is also customary good etiquette for men.  Tipping a hat when greeting someone, such as a passerby, signifies acknowledgement and respect.

Signs stand for something. Thus our visible actions (a.k.a. manners) can signify honor or dishonor towards other people. We should be willing to practice the good manners that represent honor in observable ways. We must train our children to show respect in their actions and speech. This principle appears frequently in the Scriptures. Hats are one small social action where men can easily demonstrate their respect for other people by following simple courtesy.

One final thought borrowed from a favorite gentleman expert who pokes fun at wrong intent: “If a gentleman is given to wearing outlandish hats-such as a deerstalker or Russian sable cap with earflaps-he understands that he will probably attract attention.”  (Don’t you love his humor).  I might add, unless, of course, the fellow is hunting or in the frigid cold.  The function and purpose make a difference. This is why cowboys can keep their hats on in the barn.

Thanks, Brad, for your question.  It reflects a thoughtful and caring person who realizes that everyday manners matter. My hat’s off to you.

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