Style

Wearing a hat indoors: Completely rude or actually OK?

For the record, being in the spotlight wasn't my decision. But I stand by the hat.

I found myself on live television (much to my surprise) when Hoda decided to pull me out of my usual hiding spot during a "Wine Bot" segment and talk to me on-air.

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

Wednesday Wine Bot: Is 'envelope' pronounced ON-velope or EN-velope?

Play Video - 3:35

Wednesday Wine Bot: Is 'envelope' pronounced ON-velope or EN-velope?

Play Video - 3:35

More video

After the clip made its rounds on social media, I received many compliments (I kept my cool!) from friends and family near and far. One person, however, went from congratulating me to reprimanding me with this comment: “Why were you wearing a hat? It’s rude to wear a hat indoors.”

I didn’t quite know how to respond to this. I certainly understand that there are many circumstances where dressing casually is inappropriate, but wearing a hat indoors is rude? It struck me as not only an antiquated idea, but also oddly specific and extreme, harkening back to the mid-20th century when a hat was a far more common accessory for men.

Everett Collection
"Here's looking at you, kid." ... or whatever it is they say in old movies. Cary Grant wears his hat indoors with Irene Dunne in "Penny Serenade," 1941.

To figure out whether it's actually socially acceptable, I decided to consult the internet.

The clearest advice I could get on this topic was from the Emily Post Institute, whose etiquette experts span five generations. They offered some guidance with a list of examples explaining when and where it's OK or not OK to wear hats. After reviewing their rules — including the difference between "baseball-style" caps and "fashion hats" — I came to a few conclusions. Most of all, I’m not sure if my specific situation applies.

While I completely agree that it seems inappropriate to wear a hat during a mealtime, at a house of worship (unless a hat or head covering is required) or whenever the national anthem is played, there are other instances where I disagree.

They say that you shouldn’t wear hats to restaurants and coffee shops, to a movie or whenever the flag of the United States passes by, as in a parade. For each of those scenarios, I think the standards have changed over time.

I think it's acceptable to wear hats in a Starbucks or a movie theater and, although I don’t personally go to a lot of parades, I can't imagine that every attendee takes off their cap whenever Old Glory marches by.

TODAY
The "incident" in question. I maintain that it's still socially appropriate to wear a hat indoors in this situation.

For my specific case, the closest advice we get from Emily Post is that you shouldn’t wear a hat “indoors at work, especially in an office unless required for the job,” which makes me think that I might be in clear.

I usually wear a business casual outfit to work, but for the Wine Bot segments, I’m usually laying down on the floor of the kitchen. It's often right after they've completed a cooking segment, if you can imagine.

So I dress down, if only to avoid mussing up my nicer office clothing. I wear a hat because it can get hot in there and I'm rushing to make sure that the machine is all set and counting your votes correctly. The cap helps keep the sweat out of my face. (In case you were wondering, we take your Wine Bot votes very seriously.)

Some other things about me that might be shaping my particular opinion on this:

  • I belong to one of those religions where we are supposed to cover our heads in our place of worship.

  • I grew up in New York City and my baseline for what is rude might be way off from the rest of the country. We all have our "bubbles," am I right?

  • I’m in the process of going from balding to just bald and I’m not super comfortable about it, so I’ve been wearing hats more than I did in years past.

So, is this a case of an outdated etiquette practice or AM I A MONSTER? You decide.

Andrew Pinzler runs the TODAY Innovation Lab, where we explore new ways to add emerging technologies, engaging social elements and entertaining activations to our broadcast experience and digital platforms. You can follow him on Twitter @pinzler.

TOP