When international hat-doffing committee met last month…wrote earlier about top hats and a little bit of religion outfit rules. But have you ever wondered what the rules of some specific hats etiquette are?  Where this phenomenon of doffing came from?  I’ll guide you through these dons and doffs of British colloquialism.

Doffing a top hat while carrying a cane, an umbrella, a bust of Catullus and a watermelon

Photo Credit: CircaSassy via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: CircaSassy via Compfight cc

If you ever see a gentleman slightly lifting his hat while carrying a cane (not Michael Caine) , a brolly, a bust of  Catullus (a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote in the neoteric style of poetry) and the last watermelon, think of him as typical British dandy.  So the phrases like “do on” (to do) and “doffen/don off” (to do off) are the foundation of hats wearing etiquette.  That is why hats are tipped, slightly lifting the hat from forehead, while meeting a lady. But if you stopped to have a chat, hat must be removed completely. Because that is the sign of perfect manners.  Also hat must be tipped off to anyone, while saying: thank you, excuse me, hello, goodbye, you’re welcome or how do you do.

Long history of politeness inherited

Those were the doffing rules in 19th century, or in other words, conventional gestures of politeness. But the same hat tipping origin comes from military saluting, which also have a deeper roots. Medieval knights faced visors to show friendliness. Of course today we wear less hats, but politeness stays. In modern- industrial times, wearing a hat meant hygiene and practicality. But the rule to remove hat when inside a residential area was vital. Of course there were some exceptions: in public spaces like elevators and lobbies you could wear a hat, but if you were in a presence of a lady, hat must be removed.  Elevator itself is considered to have a characteristics of a room.  It easier to make a short list of does and don’ts while wearing a hat.

Between etiquette, religion, politics and gender differences

There are important occasions and processions that requires doffing, or complete removal of hats. National Anthem, passing of the Flag and funeral processions, outdoor weddings, dedications, and photographs. Of course removed hats should be held specifically: only the outside and never the lining is visible. Religion has the strictest rules of all. Both men and women have to covet their heads. In Muslim mosques, Sikh temples, Jewish synagogues proper headwear is vital. Jewish men wears Kippah, but only married women, who wear a hat and a scarf represents her increased modesty towards those other than the woman’s husband. Jewish headwear tradition’s also includes yarmulke, which is a reminder of humility before God, a mark of respect in a Jewish congregation, and a sign of recognition of something greater above oneself. That is why many strictly religiuos male Jews cover their head whenever they are awake, with the exceptions of bathing and swimming. In Christianity women had to wear a hat during the Mass, while it was unacceptable for man to wear one.

Messing up her hairdo

There are a lot of different connotations and cultural adaptions in doffing both for men and women. But there was and there are more dandies, who had to accept these doffing rules. Because sometimes for woman to remove her hat is not just unacceptable, but she might risk messing up her hairdos.

Photo Credit: Bhumika.B via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Bhumika.B via Compfight cc