10/24/2014 Hat Etiquette: Don, Doff, Tip, Remove

Back in 2010, the Wall Street Journal posted an article about the newer generation's anxiety over hat etiquette. "If I'm wearing a hat and it's part of my look, I don't think I should have to take it off," said one of the article's subjects, Hector Ramirez. According to the article, many younger folks are "making up their own rules about when and where to take [hats] off." And that anxiety is still present, some four years later. And since Cardenas Hats sells hats that younger folks enjoy, like the Sutton fedora and Australian-styled Dingo — we thought it best to step in and help take some of that guesswork out of hat etiquette. We like to keep things simple here at Cardenas Hats, so we've made a simple list to help you out.


Hat Etiquette: The Simple Ins and Outs

Hat etiquette as displayed by a gentleman tipping his cowboy hat.


  • You can keep your hat on indoors when you are in lobbies, waiting rooms, or corridors of public offices and hotels.
  • You can keep your hat on in public elevators.
  • You can also leave your hat on while in a large, public arena.
  • Although you should take your hat off when in a restaurant, you can leave it on if you sit at the lunch counter of a diner or at the bar in a restaurant.


  • Doff the hat when meeting a lady (remove it completely if you stop and speak with her), a group of ladies, or a gentleman escorting a lady or group of ladies.
  • Doff the hat when you say Thank you, Excuse me, Hello, Goodbye, You're welcome, or How do you do? to anyone.
  • Doff your hat when coming into the presence of a government official or a dignitary, or some other such important individual of any gender.


  • Suggestion: Tip your hat by the crown for soft hats; by the brim for stiff hats.
  • Tip your hat to an acquaintance of any gender when in public.
  • Tip your hat when meeting a male friend or acquaintance or a group of males. Tip your hat when leaving the same friend or group.
  • Tip your hat any time you excuse yourself to a stranger, like after accidentally bumping into her in a crowd.
  • Tip your hat any time a stranger shows courtesy to you or your friend.


  • Suggestion: When removing and holding your hat, hold it so that the inside of the hat is facing towards you and not visible to others.
  • Remove your hat during the singing of your National Anthem, the passing of your country's flag, and during formal dedications.
  • Remove your hat if ever you come across a passing funeral procession.
  • Remove your hat in restaurants, except while waiting in the lobby; however, you hat should be off by the time you've reached your table.
  • Remove your hat when in church, except for denominations where wearing headgear is required.

Another general rule to consider — take out your cigarette, pipe, or cigar before doffing or tipping your hat.

Special hat etiquette tip for women: Hats that are traditionally thought of as a "woman's hat" — hats with ribbons, bows, feathers, flowers, fascinators, or other ornamentations — may be kept on indoors for all occasions. But if you are wearing a large hat at the movies, stage theater, or any other kind of event where there are people seated directly behind you, remove the hat and place it on your lap so that you're not obstructing anyone's view.

Hat etiquette has changed over time and has been simplified greatly. It's not supposed to complex, nor is it there to "trip you up." It's a form of politeness. That list is the jist of hat etiquette. It may seem as though there is a lot to take in; however, if in doubt, you can always err on the side of caution and remove your hat whenever you're indoors, as soon as is practical.