Know how to behave with your hat

If you’re a regular hat wearer, getting to know your hat etiquette is time well spent to avoid any embarrassing moments with your hat in public. As a rule it’s safest to take off (doff) your hat when not sure. Being over polite is better than causing a scene.

When and where not to wear your hat


In Europe men should not wear hats indoors, especially in churches, homes and public institutions. Generally it’s hats off for inside the home, business or restaurant, for flags, introductions to ladies, funerals and when a funeral cortege passes by.

Men remove your hats…

  • Churches
  • Homes
  • Public Institutions
  • Facing flags
  • Introductions to ladies
  • Funerals
  • Graveside services
  • Funeral Cortege
  • Using a lift/elevator with a lady
  • National Anthems
  • Whilst eating


Women are exempt from the men’s rules and it’s hats off whilst at home or in situations when you are blocking the view of those behind eg cinemas and theatres

For women wearing men’s hats such as baseball caps or cowboy hats it’s the same rule as men – men’s rules for men’s hats.

When inside a Catholic church a woman’s head should be covered, although this is not a strict rule and usually applies only to worshippers and not to visiting tourists.

Women remove your hats…

  • At home
  • Cinema
  • Theatre
  • When blocking someone’s view

Hat Etiquette at Weddings

Ladies should wear a hat to a traditional wedding and should keep their hats on until the Mother of the Bride removes her hat. This is usually when the formalities of the wedding breakfast are over and done with and gentlemen are free to remove their jackets with coffee being served.

The Mother of the Groom should not wear a hat larger than the Mother of the Bride.

The Groom, Best Man and other male hat wearers should follow general hat etiquette and remove their hats inside the church, indoors at the reception and when talking to ladies.

Outdoor weddings are treated the same as if you were in a church, so hats off.

Hat actions

  • Don your hat means to put it on.
  • Doff your hat means to take it off.
  • Tip your hat means to grab the brim of the hat and lift up slightly or to grab the brim of the hat and gently tug forward with your index finger and thumb.
  • Grab the crown of your hat. This is the top of the hat that is bowl-like.
hat anatomy