Hat Etiquette:

Style|Do I Still Have to Take My Hat Off for Dinner?

Ask vanessa

A reader asks whether hat etiquette has changed, and for advice on avoiding hat hair.

Credit…Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives, via Getty Images


As Jeff Bezos proved when he donned a cowboy hat for his first Blue Origin trip, hats are definitely the statement pieces of the moment — for good or ill.

And though his choice provoked a fair amount of mirth in the watching public, the right selection can protect you from the sun, hide bad hair days (or bald patches), and finish a silhouette like no other accessory.

To wit, the two hottest couture shows both featured hats: structured umbrella looks at Demna Gvasalia’s first Balenciaga couture outing, and ostrich feather jellyfish at Valentino. Even Pyer Moss’ disruptive show/ode to Black inventors contained a statement crystal-fringed lampshade toque. And milliner Stephen Jones is a key part of every Dior show (this time around, with trompe l’oeil tweed baseball-meets-jockey caps).

Plus, there were hats all over “Hamilton,” and hats that made numerous movies memorable, from the fedoras of “Indiana Jones” and “The Blues Brothers” to the Detroit Tigers cap of Doughboy from “Boyz n the Hood” and the giant Ascot topper of “My Fair Lady.”

Though Emily Post still offers certain guidelines for when and where to doff your hat — men should take off their hats in a private home, at mealtimes, during the national anthem, in public buildings and so on; women should do the same with baseball caps, but may leave “fashion hats” on unless they block someone’s view — fashion these days is so fluid, and so geared toward prioritizing the individual over the group, that most rules have simply gone out the window.

Indeed, Jones pretty much confirmed the above. “Ladies do not have to remove their hats indoors, although it is polite for men to remove their hats,” he said in an email. “For myself, even if I wear an evening hat to a red carpet occasion, I would always remove it at dinner.”

The good news is that means you don’t have to deal with the hat head issue, because it’s not necessary to remove the hat. (Though Jones also notes that the flattening effect you are experiencing could happen because a hat is too tight.)

If it does become a problem, however, Wes Sharpton of Hairstory suggests keeping some dry shampoo, also known as hair powder, to hand. “We often times only think about using a powder as an oil absorber, but there are powders that actually have some grip and can build instant volume, especially if applied at the root,” he emailed. You’ve heard of excusing yourself to powder your nose? This is the hair equivalent.

Just disappear for a moment, sprinkle some into your hands and scrunch. Then — well, chapeau.

Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to her anytime via email or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.