Okay, I got a hat. And then I liked it so I got another. But I’m not savvy to the protocol of when to take it off and when to tip it. I’ve watched a couple of old movies, but I can’t seem to break the code. What’s the proper way to manage your lid?
Don D, eh? Give my regards to Betty, if you happen to be on speaking terms this week.
Now then. The rules are actually simple, but since a couple of them are a bit non-sensical, it’s easy to see why you might get tripped up. So pay attention. There are two sets of rules – rules based on location and rules based on social interactions.
The classic rules regarding location are as follows: You take your hat off when you enter someone’s home, a restaurant, any place that could host a funeral or a religious service, or an elevator. Yes, an elevator. And no, I have no idea why. You also ditch your hat whenever you enter a workplace where you are also removing (or would remove if you were wearing one) your overcoat.
Admittedly, some of these rules are a bit outdated and odd. To reduce confusion, try going with this: Any time you enter a building where you are going to take off your coat, you should take off your hat at that time. If it is summer, take off your hat when and where you would have taken off your coat if you were wearing one. The only caveats are restaurants and elevators. Take off your hat as soon as you enter the restaurant, no exceptions, ever. And you can probably ignore the elevator rule these days, but if you do doff your lid in the elevator anyone who is in there with you will know that you are a cut above the common horde even if they don’t have the vaguest idea why.
When it comes to meeting people, there are no half measures. The rules are the same now as they have always been. You take your hat off when you are being introduced to a woman for the first time, or when meeting a head of state. You tip your hat (just a respectful touch of the brim with your thumb and forefinger is fine) whenever you greet a woman outside of the scenario of a formal introduction. One tip here: Practice. Our grandfathers knew the motion of both doffing and tipping the hat and did it as naturally as breathing. If you are new to this, though, you might look like a bit of a hack so take some time and practice in the mirror. Trust me, it’s worth it.