Considering that daily hat wear went out of style over 40 years ago, no one can be blamed for not knowing the proper etiquette rules. Until recently, hat etiquette for men was clear and had no grey areas. These days, some men don't wear hats at all, and others never seem to take them off. Still, there remains a set of etiquette rules for hat wear. Whether a man follows these rules or not shows whether he is aware of proper hat etiquette, or whether he even cares to follow it.
When to Wear a Hat
Until the late 1960s, men and women alike never left the house without a hat. Hats were used to protect the head against dirt, especially in the industrial age when the air was thick with smog. Men are now free to wear hats as they choose, but they are still required to wear a head covering of some sort in certain places of worship. For example, a man must wear a yarmulke (small skullcap) when in a Jewish synagogue, and he must also wear a head covering in mosques and Sikh temples.
When to Remove the Hat
Traditionally, a man did not wear a hat inside. There were a few simple exceptions. In places considered equivalent to public streets, such as lobbies, hallways and nonresidential elevators, the man kept his hat on. If a lady was in the elevator, he removed his hat. Hats were also be removed when the National Anthem was played, at outdoor weddings, in reverence of the U.S. flag, and for funeral processions. Currently, the only place it is taboo to wear a hat is during the National Anthem and a funeral procession, but it is a good idea to follow the lead of others in a house of worship. Many churches still follow the traditional etiquette rules. Another place a man should remove a hat is when he is taking a photograph.
When to Tip the Hat
Proper etiquette required a gentleman to tip his hat by lifting it slightly at the front when encountering a female as a sign of respect. This was the polite thing to do and is akin to a military salute or the ancient custom of a medieval knight lifting his face visor. Tipping of the hat is no longer necessary, but is a great way to flirt. The modern way of tipping the hat is to simply touch the brim of the hat. Tipping a hat to a man, however, could be interpreted as an insult, as in calling him a woman.