Hat's off to you!
June 28, 2014 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I love wearing hats. I have many: fedora, bowler, newsboy, boater, summer straw, cowboy, porkpie . . . . How can I make best use of my suave accessories?

How do I tip my hat in thanks? In greeting?
When should I doff my hat? And where should I put it/hold it when it has been doffed? (e.g. take off your hat for the Pledge of Allegiance and hold it . . . at your heart?)
Are there any slick moves for rolling a hat off ones head into ones hand & vice versa?
Do certain rules/guidelines/suggestions work best for certain hats and not others?
General hat etiquette also appreciated!

Videos, illustrations, modern and archaic etiquette lessons, anecdata are all welcome.
posted by carrioncomfort to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where are you? Are you a man or a woman? Hat etiquette varies around the world.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:44 AM on June 28, 2014

A good rule of thumb is that any time you're inside (in a place with a ceiling), you should remove your hat. A particularly slick move is, if you're surprised, raise the hat a couple inches off your head, like you just got so surprised it blew your hat straight up into the air
posted by Greg Nog at 10:49 AM on June 28, 2014 [12 favorites]

Very very much seconding that unless you are at a costume party, you take your hat off indoors. I take mine off literally the moment I cross the threshhold from "outside" to "inside."
posted by griphus at 10:55 AM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wearing anything with confidence means not drawing undo attention to it through fancy maneuvers. Just wear your hats without screaming "Loooook at meeeee! I have a hat!!!"

People who wear hats already have to overcome preconceived notions about them because so many douchebags' affectations involve hats... and it's those folks with the "smooth" moves you describe, like "clever" and "tricky" ways of doffing/donning their headgear. You don't want to be mistaken for these, um, asshats.
posted by carmicha at 11:45 AM on June 28, 2014 [21 favorites]

Yeah, don't do most of the things you mention. Don't tip your hat, don't doff it, don't do any slick moves. If you're going to wear a hat it shouldn't be a cool accessory you use for suave moves, it should be an item of clothing like your pants or shirt. Take it off indoors, put it on outdoors, that's it.
posted by Justinian at 12:14 PM on June 28, 2014 [11 favorites]

(I realize "doff" means "remove" but the connotation is different.)
posted by Justinian at 12:14 PM on June 28, 2014

Real cowboys use their whole hand on the crown to put on and take off their hats. Not fingers on the brim.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:15 PM on June 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thing is, it's been a while since hats were a standard accessory. Etiquette is only really useful insofar as it smooths and improves communication between people -- that is, it doesn't do much good to make a "polite" gesture to someone with your hat if they have no idea what you're doing or that it's supposed to be polite. It also doesn't do much good to make a polite gesture to someone with your hat if that gesture draws more attention to your Old-Fashioned Politeness than to your respect for them. For that reason, I'd suggest keeping hat-gesturing among friends who you know will think it's charming because they already think you are charming.

I can't tell if you're a man or a woman from the question. Traditionally, women could wear their hats anywhere and at any time, including indoors, but those were very different hats from the ones you're describing. Since the hats you're wearing were identified with men back when hat-wearing was standard, you might want to observe "men's" standards of hat-wearing regardless of your own gender. These basically indicate that you should take off the hat indoors, except for "public" types of indoors, like malls or airports. When saying the Pledge of Allegiance, yes, hold the hat in the right hand, over your heart; where you take it off otherwise, leave the hat where you would leave your coat if you had one.

Finally, bear in mind there's a reason why this is a laugh line.
posted by ostro at 12:23 PM on June 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

I know a place where it's acceptable (and even approved!) to let out all your best hat maneuvers.

That place is A STAGE.

Buy yourself a manipulation hat.

Learn some tricks with hats.

Create and perform a gentleman themed routine which showcases your hat collection.

Now you can get paid to show off your hats.
posted by emilyw at 1:05 PM on June 28, 2014

I'm in the US (northeast). I present as male.

I really like the hats from Goorin Bros. and have also found one or two milliners in Soho & Tribeca in NYC. Vintage hats are always a win if you can find one that fits (7¾" is not the easiest to find).

And I really, really do want to tip my hat to folks, especially to cars when I'm doing the pedestrian thing. The papal/super model/royal wave/wave & jog just isn't cutting it for me.

The hat tricks are just for fun, not for showing off like douche. As ostro suggests, it's more for interactions with friends who are also fans of old-fashioned, charming behavior.
posted by carrioncomfort at 1:51 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you want to express greeting or thanks, I would recommend doing so in a non-hat-centric way so that it's clear that the intention is actually about greeting the person and not about getting them to notice your hat. In terms of what to do with your hat, place it on your head and take it off indoors. You could think of getting a hat rack to display prominently in your home so that you can comfortably walk that fine line between showing off your hats, and making your hat the center of attention when it doesn't need to be.

Also, my high school staged Guys and Dolls and I can think of no better place for someone to have put his novel hat tricks to use. How about theater?
posted by mermily at 2:17 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

The hat tricks are just for fun, not for showing off like douche.

Except the problem is they generally read as douche-y unless you're reaaaallllyyy thoughtful about how you target it.
posted by stewiethegreat at 2:25 PM on June 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

The thing people are trying to tell you is this.
posted by neroli at 2:39 PM on June 28, 2014 [9 favorites]

it's more for interactions with friends who are also fans of old-fashioned, charming behavior.

I hate to say this, but if any of your friends are female, it's unlikely that they're going to read this as old-fashioned and charming. If I had a friend who loved hats and started wearing them frequently, I would be weirded out--if you started doing the things you describe, I would assume that he'd become--well, the kind of dude who's really into Reddit, "men's rights", and the idea that he's a Good Old-Fashioned Guy. Which is to say that the simple act of putting on a hat that would've been more at home on someone fifty to a hundred years ago than someone right now, you become, to many women, a threat.

I went back and scanned all your previous activity before posting this, because I wanted to be sure that you were not, in fact, an angry fedora-wearer who would send me harassing messages because of this answer. You seem lovely, but the fact that my knee-jerk reaction was shit, I better go check this dude out before responding should tell you something about how female-presenting people feel about guys wearing this sort of stuff. I understand that you aren't that guy, and it really, really sucks that Those Guys have kinda ruined it for everyone else, but there's pretty much no way to wear an old-timey hat without coming off as, at best, someone who's kinda socially not great, and at worst someone who is an active threat to people who are not straight white dudes.

That said, if you do wear one, I would suggest the following: Wear it only when you'll be in groups, because being part of a group makes you less threatening. Take it off the moment you're inside. Take it off (and either hold it at your side or over your heart) during Solemn National Things for which people stand and place a hand over their heart. Wear it with appropriate outfits--jeans and teeshirts, no, something that involves wearing a suit jacket, yes. Don't gesture with your hat.

I realise that most of my answer has been about fedoras, but it applies to pretty much any old-fashioned hat--the average person doesn't know the difference between a trilby, pork-pie, fedora, and homburg. All of them read the same way. I'm sorry.
posted by MeghanC at 2:54 PM on June 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

Just for a different data point, if friends of mine regularly wore hats and tipped them hat to me, I'd think charming and sweet not d-bag. (I'm also in favor of more old-fashioned politeness). If you want to do those things, do them. Your friends will appreciate it and if some random people think it's showing off, who cares?

And maybe I'm out of touch but I have no idea what MeghanC is talking about with the fedora=threatening male thing. (I'm mid-40s, female just for reference), It sounds like it depends upon how familiar with Reddit your friends are (obviously I am not). I'm also in Portland so I see all kinds of hats every day, including on my husband's head, so maybe I'm biased. I've never seen someone wearing a hat and been wary of them because of the hat so I'm curious to hear how widespread her impression is.
posted by Beti at 3:10 PM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go against the grain and say I love a good hat tip, done properly. I think it works best when it's the slightest of gestures, done in passing and with extremely brief eye contact-- anything too prolonged and it would definitely register as creepy rather than charming. One time a guy tipped his hat to me as I walked by and it was so swift it didn't sink in until he had passed, but after it hit me you could've knocked me down with a feather. Good stuff.

I think the hat tip has parallels to the head nod of acknowledgement in that it comes off best when it is casual and noninvasive. Above comments show it can easily be construed as douchey behavior so I would use it sparingly.
posted by fox problems at 3:14 PM on June 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

I would echo the people who are saying "keep it subtle".

I hope this isn't off-topic, but because your account is relatively new, I just wanted to point out that some of these responses are coming because hats as affectations have a... complicated history on Metafilter.
posted by supercres at 3:23 PM on June 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

i have been on the fence about commenting all afternoon. i think you should wear whatever makes you happy and i don't want to discourage you... so here it is.

all i could think of is the tip my fedora meme when i read your post. unfortunately, i think it is how many people will react.
posted by phil at 3:33 PM on June 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

Just for a sample of MeFite opinions on hats and the (male, mostly) wearers thereof and their behavior (and why some people (women, especially) might be wary):

Mefites and fedoras (MetaTalk)

Why the fedora hate? (AskMe)

Oh god I don't want to be hat guy (AskMe)

Metafilter doesn't do fedoras well (Metafilter)

And supercres above got to the two big 'uns before I managed to hit post.

Also, your use of the word "suave" is, IMO, what's making people nervous. Hats as utilitarian pieces of clothing generally get a pass, hats as fashion/lifestyle accessories are more complicated, and often don't come across the way the wearer would like. Which is something to be aware of if you wear hats.

(Speaking as a utilitarian hat-wearer, because shaved head + fair skin + glasses + weather = I wear hats all the time. I take them off as soon as I'm inside. No fancy tricks - although glowering at someone from under the brim of a hat does seem to add a little extra "oomph.")
posted by soundguy99 at 3:42 PM on June 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

I tip my ballcap to nice drivers who yield to me while I'm riding my bike. There are a couple of slight variations I employ, but it is nothing fancy, mostly just a finger to the brim. A quick poke from underneath with my index finger, usually off to the side, or a slight pinch between index and thumb fingers. Sometimes a near-salute, again usually just with the index finger, where I press the side of my finger (pointing up) against the side of the brim. Then maybe follow-through with the same finger leveled at the subject of your tip. In any case, there's always just a hint of actual hat-movement.
posted by carsonb at 3:44 PM on June 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hats are a utilitarian form if outerwear. You wear it to keep your head warm, and in the summer a hat is especially for if you're bald to protect your head or if you want to keep the sun out of your eyes and your face.

More formal hats work IF the rest of your clothes are more formal AND you are wearing other outerwear AND that you remove the hat just as you would remove your hat and gloves.

The best hat wearers are those you don't actually register are wearing hats. The worst hat wearers are the ones you start to notice as "that guy with the hat."

If you remove your hat, it goes on your desk or coat rack, or you hold it in your hand at your side. If you need both hands for something, tuck it under your arm.
posted by deanc at 4:03 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

You've got to realize that there's a fair amount of dislike for fedora fanciness.

I'm not saying it's fair. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying it's a reality.

So, moving beyond the fedora-wearing hipster douchebag meme into someone who wants some suave and slick moves to incorporate into this already-done-to-death-and-widely-mocked-trend...well...it's possible you're not going to get a lot of helpful hints.

But the best hat advice is what deanc says. You don't want to be "that guy with the hat," you want to be "that guy who is awesome and happens to be wearing a hat."

I hope that distinction makes sense.
posted by kinetic at 4:06 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I saw this earlier and rightly assumed that previous MetaFilter discussions would have been cross-referenced by the time I got around to replying, so not a lot to add there; take some MeFites' blanket "nobody should wear hats ever because hipster douchebag" responses with an appropriately-sized grain of salt. But yeah, if you take nothing else away from this thread: take your hat off if you're indoors to stay for a while. It's frustrating because not many places have coatrooms or hat racks anymore, but you can usually find a place to put it; at the end of the table, on a seat beside you, etc. (Once you're in this habit, hats also serve as a handy transitional device when trying to leave a gathering; putting your hat back on means "I'm getting ready to leave.")

I'm am unapologetic hat guy and generally subscribe to the "To hell with what people think, I'm wearing this damn hat because I love hats" school of thought. However, I do try to adjust my wardrobe so that the hat is an accessory and not the focal point. That is to say: I know that my bowler is going to stick out no matter what, but if I'm wearing it with a suit and/or topcoat then at least it's in some kind of context and not so much "HEY LOOK AT MY BOWLER IT REALLY SETS OFF MY WEEZER T-SHIRT AND FLIP FLOPS DON'T YOU THINK?"

I tend to agree with the prevailing sentiment that hat tricks/tipping/doffing are walking a pretty fine line between charming and creepy... the difference might largely lie with practice and the perceived ease with which the gesture is given, but personally I would always err on the side of trying not to be creepy.
posted by usonian at 4:50 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

"it's more for interactions with friends who are also fans of old-fashioned, charming behavior."

Please keep in mind that charming behavior is necessarily modern. Anachronism is not a defense.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:22 PM on June 28, 2014

Given the vehement anti-(men-wearing-fedora-like)hat sentiment, I feel the need to clarify:

While I identify as male, I am gender nonconforming, pre-transition, female bodied, and pass only occasionally, and only by sight, not speach.

My sphere of primarily queer friends has not brought me into contact with the fedora-hipster-douche crowd. I was only vaguely aware of this phenomenon.

I genuinely want to wear my hats and, yes, sometimes employ an antiquated hat tip.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:07 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I genuinely want to wear my hats and, yes, sometimes employ an antiquated hat tip.

This works as sort of a Radclyffe Hall/Una Troubridge "elegant-butch-lady in men's clothing" if you're not trying to present as a man.

The woman with a bowler cap or fedora who does hat-flip tricks reads as a kind of Debbie Gibson/Annie Hall/MPDG thing, which is not what you're trying to go for.

If you genuinely want to wear hats and pass as male rather than "transgender man still trying to figure out how to present as a man," then a whole host of fashion rules for men and their hats come into play.
posted by deanc at 8:40 PM on June 28, 2014

MeFi doesn't do hats well. As part of the slightly older demographic, I can tell you that us oldsters love a well handled hat. Wear your hat like it's part of you (which it probably is, if you have that many varieties and are comfortable in all of them.)

For older folks, be very serious in your hat tipping as a politeness, and in circumstances where you feel it would be received well, you can be flamboyant and do your hat tricks. I know I'd be tickled to be the recipient of a well done tip and formal bow.

With the youngun's be very reserved and natural. A touch of the finger to the brim with a nod is almost extravagant. Practice till it looks natural.

Hold hat by crown over your heart for the Pledge; hold by crown or brim when carrying. ALWAYS doff hat entering a building. You can put it on a coat rack or place it on your desk. Don't put your hat on the table at a restaurant. Hang it up or put it on the chair next to you; Make sure your hat doesn't obscure your vision while driving. Keep your head up, and wear your hat with pride and panache!
posted by BlueHorse at 12:17 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

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