Post-Modern Manners: The Hat Is Second-Biggest Etiquette Offender

This is a blog about manners. And sometimes running.

I think it is time we talked about hats.

I am not finished talking about cell phones, but I think we need a break from them so I am going to talk about the second biggest etiquette offender: the hat.

People starting wearing hats in or around 300 B.C., so it is surprising to me that it took men until 20 years ago to discover that hats cure baldness. People first wore hats to protect their heads from falling objects. Later, they discovered that wearing a hat could make them feel warmer so they began to wear them in cold weather.

Twenty years ago, too many balding men decided to wear ball caps to disguise their hair loss. I would like to tell them now that wearing a ball cap 24 hours a day probably causes hair loss, because if they believe me, all of them will stop wearing ball caps forever. And I would never have to write about them again which would make me very happy.

It used to be that men of my father's generation removed their hats whenever they went inside a building—and they all wore hats. In the winter they wore a Bowler or Fedora style of hat—hats that Winston Churchill or Cary Grant might wear. In the summer, they would wear a Straw Boater with a colorful band. They would walk in the door and their hand would reach for their hat and they would hold the hat in their hand or put it on a coat rack until they went back outside.

That was what they did. All of them.

You were considered a rube if you did not remove your hat indoors or at the singing of The Star Spangled Banner. This past summer I attended a Cougars game and at least half of the men and boys did not remove their hats for the singing of The Star Spangled Banner. Where are their grandmothers? My grandmother died a long time ago but I can tell you with great certainty that if a man sat down at her table with his hat on, she would have removed it with her rolling pin and made sure she located some scalp in the effort.

Women have it better when it comes to hats. We may wear them whenever and wherever we choose although wearing hats fell out of favor with women just about the time that ball caps began to cure baldness in men, but I think they are staging a comeback thanks the the royal family. Also, there are some elderly ladies who come to church with their hats on at Easter Sunday Service and remind me of soft tea cakes with pastel icing hats.

Men are the offenders, I am sorry to report, and it has gotten to the point that when I see a man with a ball cap on his head, I automatically assume he is bald.  Men come in to my office all of the time and stand there conducting business with their ball caps on as if it is the most accepted act in the world. As if. This drives me crazy and if they were not my customers I would tell them what they should do with their hat when they are inside a building. I would never actually do this, of course, but I want to.

So here are the rules for hats as they apply to men:

Where you may wear a hat:

  • Outdoors (but not at a burial in a cemetery).
  • Indoor Sporting Events. (I have to make this exception for sports fans even though it goes against what I know to be true.)

Where you may NOT wear a hat:

  • Indoors. Period. Including ... At any table while eating.
  • During the singing of The Star Spangled Banner or the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • A funeral procession.
  • Any outdoor occasion for which respect is to be shown.

And by the way, gentlemen.  If you have hair and wear a ball cap women assume you are bald. If you are bald and wear a ball cap, get over it already. Besides, your ball cap has already given you away.

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Dianna Griffin September 21, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Thank you! I am sick of louts & mannerless men in general wearing baseball caps at dinner - and dirty ones no less. Gag. Its a true turn off.
Terry Flanagan September 21, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Rick, looks like you took another one for the team by serving as the poster child for this inexcusable debauchery.
Rick Nagel (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Sadly, I fit the description. :)
J.O. September 21, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Of all the things to complain about......if you are in church or at a nice restaraunt or at a dinner party - take off your hat. Funerals, Star Spangled Banner - of course. If you are at an outdoor festival and eating a meal out of a disposable box (see picture), it doesn't matter what you are wearing on your head. I guess all the bald guys could be wearing "straw boaters" so their scalps don't get burned by the sun. We know a heck of alot more about skin cancer now than we did 50 years ago too. "It used to be that men of my father's generation removed their hats whenever they went inside a building—and they all wore hats." It used to be that men of my father's generation only took a bath once a week and generally smelled of b.o. and cigarettes. A ball cap is a nice trade.
Jill Miller September 22, 2012 at 11:18 AM
We must trade?


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