Western hat tradition and etiquette

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Does the hat make the man? Maybe, maybe not. But there is proper hat etiquette.
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A gentleman removes his hat ... a lot!

There is a rule for almost everything and in the case of western hat tradition and etiquette this is no exception. The old rules about hats still apply to those who are truly gentleman and, yes, this means gentlemanly cowboys as well.

First and foremost, tip your cowboy hat in respect when you pass a woman on the street. Tipping your western or cowboy hat can mean anything from "welcome" to "thank you," "good bye" and "excuse me." If you stop to talk to a lady, remove your hat. When you are introduced to a woman, or are saying goodbye to her, remove your hat. This is a sign of respect. The woman will be very impressed by your chivalry.


When you go inside, remove your hat. However, there are exceptions. If you are in a place that is comparable to a public street, which includes corridors, elevators and lobbies, you can keep your hat on. If the elevator is in a residential, rather than commercial, building it is considered a room in a house and you should remove your house, particularly if there is a lady present.


Hats should be removed if a funeral procession passes by, when the Star Spangled Banner is played, the passing of the flag, dedications, outdoors weddings and, yes, when your picture is taken. Did I hear some grumbling?


When you remove your hat, it should be held so that only the outside of the hat is showing; never the inside or the lining.


When handling a western hat, handle it by the front and the back of the brim, next to the crown, and with four fingers. Using this technique will keep your western hat neat, crisp, in shape and the crown will stay clean. If your hands are dirty when you handle your hat, your hat will get dirty. Wash your hands.


When you remove your hat for the night, place it upside down on the top or crown. This will keep the brim in shape. It will also allow your hat to air, and any perspiration to dry.


Hat etiquette, regardless of the style, calls for hats to be removed in a courtroom, a restaurant, a church and in the home. Watch the classic gentleman cowboys in the movies handle their western hats. Mimic their style and casual elegance - you will look like a pro!


You can leave the hat on while seated at a lunch counter of a diner, in the main area of a general store, some public buildings and in places such as post offices and railroad stations. Although, remember, the general rule always takes priority: if you are in a public place and a woman is present, remove your hat.


The origin of hat tipping, and the actual removal of your hat, stems from knights lifting their visor so they could show their face as a sign of respect and an empty hand, indicating that they mean no harm. Removing a headpiece is a sign of reverence or respect that is old as the Dark Ages.


Cowboy hats or western hats are the essential piece of equipment in western wear. The hat is functional because the wide brim provides protection from rain and the sun and it can be used to signal others, retrieve water from a stream, stir up a camp fire and even to whack a horse with.

Many men's western hats are constructed from beaver and rabbit fur that is transformed into felt, or from wool or straw. When you buy a western hat, check it for stiffness and softness. The better quality a hat is, the softer it will be and less stiff. The Xs inside your hat stand for quality; however not all hat companies use the same standard. A 10X hat may be the equivalent of 30X hat produced by another company. The more beaver fur in a hat, the softer it will be.


When selecting your hat, consider the oval of the hat, which refers to how oval or round your head is, which varies from individual to individual. When a person has either a very rounded, oval head or a long, oval head his noggin may not conform to the regular oval shape of the hat. Look at the crease and crown of the hat and the shaping of the brim and the type of brim. Brims come in different widths. Pick the hat that appeals to you.


Then practice your Western hat "technique." This is a hat that comes with history, tradition and etiquette.



The Hat Store: Hat tips

Cowboy Hats and More: Blog

Country Calendar: Cowboy Hats FAQ

Video: Picking and Care of Cowboy Hats

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