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Why is it rude to wear a hat at the dinner table? Where did this custom come from?

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Gee, that's the best question I've heard in 6 months!!!

    It's an old English custom where hats are tipped, (or doffed) slightly lifting the hat off your forehead, when meeting a lady (remove your hat if you stop to talk), or to "say" to anyone, male or female – thank you, excuse me, hello, goodbye, you’re welcome or how do you do.

    Tipping of the hat is a conventional gesture of politeness. This hat tipping custom has the same origin as military saluting, which came from the raising of medieval Knights face visors to show friendliness.

    Hats are worn less now, but at the turn of the 20th century, all adults wore hats whenever they left the house. It was a matter of good personal hygiene, since hats were a protection from industrial dirt.

    Hats are removed when inside, except for places that are akin to public streets, like lobbies, corridors, and crowded elevators (non-residential). In a public building (where there are no apartments) the elevator is considered a public area.

    You may choose to remove your hat in a public elevator, but in the presence of a lady your hat must be removed.

    A gentleman takes off his hat and holds it in his hand when a lady enters the elevator in any building that can be classified as a dwelling such as an apartment house or hotel. He puts it on again in the corridor.

    It's therefore become a mark of respect to take them off during a meal, funerals, church service, when you greet someone in the street, or any other occasion when you want to signify that you respect the person. That's where the term, "I take my hat off to you" originated.

    Thanks again for a really good question! I learnt something tonight. The website is very interesting and took me ages to find.

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  • 6 years ago

    As for the "sexist remark":

    The different rules for women developed in the heady days when everyone wore hats. The hats worn by women were an integral part of their outfits and were never removed. Would you ever take off your dress in public? Women would be naked without their hats. In any case removal of one’s best hat would be impracticable in most circumstances as the hat may have been fastened to the hair severely by a series of hat pins. This was certainly the case in Victorian and Edwardian times.

    As women dress more in the style of men some might say they should observe rules for men, or at least some of them when wearing such hats. Such occasions would include funeral processions, the display of the Flag, Prayer (depending on the faith), and the playing of the National Anthem.

    In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church ordained the wearing of headgear in Church. In those early days these hats were large and elaborate for the upper classes with large cones. It must have been difficult to see over them in Church but still no matter. From the 1960s on the practice of hat wearing in Church has waned somewhat. In Christian Churches the wearing of a proper hat is acceptable and even de rigueur for some. In the USA many African American ladies proudly wear their Church Hats.

    The Village Hat Shop refers to the 1963 book by Amy Vanderbilt New Complete Book of Etiquette. Women now have the choice about whether to wear hats for outdoor parties and weddings. In houses where weddings and funerals are conducted indoors the rules are the same as for churches. (There are special rules for different religions)

    Women are typically permitted to wear hats that are part of the outfit indoors. But Emily Post advised that a hat should NOT be worn with an evening dress (to me this seems more of a style point than an etiquette point – why not experiment I say). The style mavens of the 1950s and 1960s advise that daytime hats with large brims not be worn inside in the evening. Smaller brim hats should be worn if any hat is worn. Some would say that any dress hat can be worn indoors without exception. (Personally I do not look as good with a small brimmed hat). After dinner is the appropriate time to remove your hat if so inclined. A woman would not normally wear her hat in her own home even in the old days.

    Wearing hats at an upscale restaurant is acceptable especially for fancy luncheons and High Teas. Indeed many ladies get together for High Teas where hat wearing is mandatory and is a fun event. Some advise that the hat should be part of your street clothes – a nice dress for example. Perhaps it is not appropriate when wearing a jogging suit or your gardening clothes – but hey some people are eccentric!

    In theaters and concerts women are permitted to wear hats. Hats should be removed if they obstruct the view of another patron.

    Women should remove their personal hats at work. Of course special headgear for uniforms and protection or for some theatrical performance perhaps might be worn.

    There is some debate relating to the wearing of dress hats at Wedding Receptions. Here it seems that one takes the cues from the mothers of the Bride and Groom. When they remove theirs then it is OK to remove yours. If your hat encumbers the service of food take it off.

    Another word about baseball caps

    If a woman wears a baseball cap can it properly be considered to be a woman’s hat? It is a unisex item I think. It is believed by many that these hats should be removed on solemn occasions and always removed indoors. Some say that for women anything goes and one can wear such hats or any hats indoors. But this is a losing battle I believe the practice of baseball hat wearing has become widespread and the hats are worn every place.

    Oh I forgot to mention. Whether you are a man or a woman and you hold your hat in you hand or under your arm never expose the inside lining of the hat.

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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    So it's okay for women to wear a hat at the table but not for a man. Wow, no bias there.

    More importantly, please explain WHY it's rude for a guy to wear a hat at the table? Is it because of religious reasons, political, socioeconomic, etc.? Saying "Because that's the way it is", or "Because etiquette says so" doesn't fly. My parents grew up in an age when minorities had to sit at the back of a bus or gays weren't allowed to marry. Prescribing a rule upon someone where you can't back it up with a legitimate reason, or even worse, singling out one gender vs. another is idiotic.

    • gabe3 years agoReport

      Shut the **** up

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  • 4 years ago

    I think it all started way back in the old days when men wore those very large wide brimmed hats with a very long ostrich feather sticking out of it.Can you just imagine sitting down for just picture this, the guys playing violins, the lady on the harp, the chandeliers hanging from the fifty foot ceiling, tapestries on the walls,the big long table with everybody having a real blast except for those dam feathers. They seemed to always have the feather on the right side of the hat....Now if the person on his left got his attention and said something funny, the guy on the he thought it was funny or not would not want to make him feel like he crashed would throw his head back in laughter dipping his feather in the soup of the person on his right. Now when the guy on the right said get your feather out of my soup, the guy wearing the nasty hat would turn his attention to the guy on the right to say i am sorry, the guy on the left would then get slapped with a soup soaked feather.I think this might have something to do why one removes his hat at the table.

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  • 6 years ago

    You remove your cover as a sign of respect / a sign of introducing yourself. Keeping your hat on hides your face and makes you appear less professional. It is easy to judge people on how they were raised by such manners. Additionally you should use a napkin, brush your hair, and not wear a heavy jacket indoors. Yes I agree there is nothing that says you are required to do these things, but if you ever want to show you respect yourself or others please learn these simple rules. And about the sexist remark get over yourself. Everything in this world is revolved around sexist topics.

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  • 1 decade ago

    From what I have heard, the custom of taking hats off in the house has to do with medieval times - when people used to wear helmets to protect themselves from blows to the head (I guess in war, or whatever else could befall someone back then). So, when you come into someone's house, you take off your headwear to show that you trust them. I guess that extends to sitting at the table.

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  • dawnb
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    In all of history, when men and women wore hats as part of their daily ensemble, men took off (tipped) their hats to greet a woman. When indoors, it was proper for men to take off their hats just as you take off your coat. Therefore, a hat would never be seen at a dining table. Women's hats were considered part of their outfit and were not removed. I find it rude for men to wear hats indoors let alone at the table.

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  • 5 years ago

    I believe it also stems from the fact that back in the day hats were very tall and when sitting in groups like a theatre you couldn't see over them so it was customary for them to be removed. Personally i think its ridiculous that people now still follow these etiquettes well past them having served their purpose.

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  • 4 years ago

    In early Judeo Christian texts; the faithful were taught to wear a covering on their head as a sign of subservance and respect to God. When conquerors were jealous of the conquered peoples' continued worship of a higher power, removing one's head covering became the expected sign of respect for the new "authority". Demonstration of ones' subjugation is the root of this custom (ie. salutes, curtsy, bowing, lowering eyes, etc).

    Source(s): Torah, Bible, old English law, Uniform Code of Military Justice, various protestant rituals, etc.
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  • 4 years ago

    I was always taught that the ships galley tables were used as operating tables and not wearing your hat at the table was out of respect for those who died

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