Freelance Writer Files: The Hat Rule

When an older style comes back into fashion, it’s generally made new by some twist or touch that makes it fresh and welcome. Hats are back in now, perhaps for the first time since everyone sent their hats to Goodwill when Kennedy made them “old hat,” so to speak. But the new twist this time is that people don’t know when to wear or not wear hats.

Hats for men and hats for women are in, and even more so these searing days of late June, when the sun can bake your brain and leave you standing, zombiefied, at a Price Chopper cart corral, fit only to be carted away like a burned sacrifice.

This guy looks cool in a hat.

Cool look. But lose the hat in the movie, okay?

It’s nice to see hats on men again, and the selection of styles is improving. Still, though, men have a hard time choosing a proper chapeau.

A guy wearing a flap-cap in this weather is plainly nuts. I don’t care if they are the height of fashion at the Art Institute.

Cap with "100% COWBOY" on it

Not without the Stetson, you ain't.

A guy who wears a cowboy hat should also wear some other Western acccoutrements. You can’t just jam a Stetson on your head when you’re wearing cutoff shorts and a Tommy Hilfiger shirt. Commit! Go whole-hog or not at all, or look like a tourist in town for the rodeo.

Caps are the tofu of the hat world. Like tofu, they have no real taste, but they absorb whatever flavor their emblem has. Be careful which cap you choose to wear where, guys. Don’t wear a CAT hat to a cocktail party. Don’t wear a Ralph Lauren cap to a pig roast, unless it’s at a country club.

But here’s the the important rule about hats, and it applies to women, as well as men:

Take off your gol-danged hat indoors. Especially when you’re in a movie theater or at a public event, where people have either paid or pushed and shoved to see a play, a world-famous pianist, or a renowned speaker who is saying something important.

In the silent-movie days, you would see “Ladies, please remove your hats” projected on the screen. Today, since people have forgotten the hat rules, I vote that custom be resurrected and applied to men as well as women.

As a certified Short Person, I fear sitting behind the World’s Tallest Man, Big-Haired Woman. Tall men and big-haired women can’t be blamed. But hat wearers at indoor events are just plain inconsiderate.

Now, to ask people to doff their hats indoors is nothing prissy and old-fashioned like, “A gentlemen must doff his hat when meeting a lady.” No, I don’t ask that, though a return to the respectful gestures of yesteryear (or respect in general) would be most refreshing. I simply ask that people remove their hats indoors. Let’s recall the main purpose of a hat or cap: to protect the head from the elements. It seldom rains, snows or hails indoors. Nor does cruel Mr. Sun beat down upon our pates.

So take it from one who has seen everything from flap caps to cowboy hats to seed caps to bowlers, Easter bonnets, and Russian fur hats (Yes!) worn indoors: Take ‘em off, or you look like a goofball, especially in a dark movie theater, where nobody can see you anyhow. And the Certified Short Person behind you can’t see at all. If you decide to ignore the hat rule when sitting in front of a Certified Short Person, don’t be surprised if Drastic Measures are taken to relieve you of your sightline-blocking headgear.

You have been warned.

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