Removing your hat in a building

Where does this practice come from? When I was a teacher, the staff made a huge point of telling us (the faculty) to make sure all students were obeying the dress code, including the no hats worn in the building rule. I followed the directive without question, but now I wonder… why? What’s the big freaking deal with my little baseball cap/fedora/stetson/yarmulke?

Recently I visited the Bureau of Traffic Adjudication (BTA) to contest a fraudulent parking ticket. I had the day off and it had been a few hours after my morning shower. I decided that a “nice casual” dress would be sufficient, and not feeling like going through the hair styling routine on my day off, I threw on a non-descript baseball style cap (no logo or fancy design) and off I went to the BTA.[sup]*[/sup]

Of course you can see where this is going. The Hearing examiner took 10 of us into the hearing room, called me up to the microphone as the first case of the day and promptly instructed me to remove my hat. Needless to say it did not help my case that without my cap I looked like I had chosen a hairstyle that is so popular among frightened porcupines.

One lady in the room with me had curlers in her hair, several others has their’s wrapped in a scarf that was tied under the chin. I wonder if the examiner demanded that they also remove their scalp coverings. I never found out because I was the first to leave the hearing room.

Is this related to some building ringworm code? Why can’t I cover my head of I want to? How do you suppose the examiner would have reacted if I had declined to remove my cap? Maybe I should have refused, so he would have refused to hear my case and then I could have made a major stink about it in the Washington Post. Maybe I should have told him that I have a nasty case of head lice and would rather keep my cap on.

Anybody out there besides Miss Manners think it’s a sin to wear a hat indoors?

[sub][sup]*[/sup]I had pants & a shirt on, too.[sub]

My guess is that not so many years ago, wearing a hat indoors was considered rude behavior. Don’t know why, and that might be what you’re wondering. Older people seem to be the only ones who still follow this rule. In a matter of years it will fall out of practice and hats will be commonplace indoors at all places. I think it might be because in the past, a hat was a way to enhance your image and block the sun. They weren’t there to cover up your bad hair, so they were taken off indoors…kind of like sunglasses. Being in the Army, I have to always take my cover off indoors, and put it on as soon as I step outside. Them’s the rules…stemming from this older tradition, I’m sure. I don’t take off my hat if I’m in civies, though.


I am willing to bet you wearing a hat in the building had nothing to do with being asked to remove your cap. It wasn’t the building, it was the official who was addressing you during the hearing.

As a matter of custom, men (not women) are required to remove their hat during a trial. It depends on the judge how much he/she wants to enforce this rule. Essentially it is the judges courtroom and what he/she says goes. How many lawyers do you see wearing hats in open court? How many lawyers come to court dressed in jeans and a tee shirt?

Now I don’t know if you actually appeared before a judge. Perhaps this was some other civil servant that wanted the decorum of a trial.

The same applies to “hallowed halls” of schools. You remove your hat, not out of necessity but out of respect. So that is why in grade school you had to put your hat on a hook and watch the lice as they jump from hat to hat.

The whole thing is blown out of control because headgear can signify gang activity. The color of your hat and how you wear it can be interpreted as some gang. Don’t ask me what inner city gang uses cowboy hats.

A yarmulke, having religious significance can be tricky to deal with. I wonder how many judges or teachers would force the removal of a yarmulke. Such a command could spell consequences with a lawsuit.

Traditionally a mark of respect. In Western Culture, this goes back to the middle ages. A tip of the hat to show recognition and removal of the hat to show respect.
Whenever it was started, the tradition was strengthened by
the armored knights, who lifted their helmet visors when meeting as a signal of recognition. When a knight joined a gathering of friends, he removed his helmet to show repect and that he felt safe.

When I learned etiquitte, the explanation for this was that hats are traditionally a form of protection from the elements. Not removing it is somewhat insulting as it implies that your host’s quarters don’t provide enough shelter. It’s a little like bringing extra food when you’re invited to dinner, on the assumption that the host won’t provide enough to eat.

This is also why women don’t have the same rule. For women, headdress is traditionally decorative, rather than protective.

Jman, what you say about taking off your “cover” indoors and putting it on outdoors (except in “covered” areas of course) is what I always thought the military did. However, I recently read this: “The head cover should be removed promptly when entering someone else’s private residence, any government building, church, or hospital. Removing one’s head cover is optional when entering public buildings and commercial establishments (e.g., the post exchange, commissary, movie theaters, train stations, commercial airports, hotels, restaurants, shops, shopping malls, etc.), or public or government transportation conveyances (e.g., airplanes, trains, cars, troop carriers, etc.).” in “Military Courtesy and Conduct” by Captain Armen H. Thoumaian, Ph.D., USPHS.

Isn’t there a Biblical basis to it, something along the lines of a woman’s hair being her glory, so she should cover it in public? I know, I don’t understand it either, and our Jewish friends appear to have taken the opposite interpretation ;j

Chronos, that’s right. In fact, before Vatican II, the Catholic Church <shudder> had a strict rule of decorum in which women had to have their heads covered while in church. My grandma said that if you didn’t have a hat you had to put a hankerchief or something on.

Can you say “temptress”?

Quite so. I recall my mother pinning a kleenex to her hair with a bobby pin when she wanted to duck into church for a prayer and didn’t have a hat. Males on the other hand were strictly required to remove their hats upon entering a church.

IIRC, in Australia, entering a bar without removing your hat (and getting called on it) requires you to buy a round.

Also, in golf, where everyone wears a hat, you must remove it at the end of a match before shaking hands with your opponent. i have no idea why this is, but I do it and so do all the pros.

Golf Widow?

You asked for it.

1[sup]st[/sup] epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 11 (New International Version):

I too usually remove my hat upon entering a building. I just don’t feel comfortable with it on indoors. (I’m 25, so it’s not just “old people”.) It is definatly a sign of respect. I don’t know why, but it is easy enough to do, and I would rather not risk disrespecting someone by not doing it. (Not trying to be P.C., just courteous.)