Cowboy Etiquette: The Cowboy Hat
First buy a cowboy hat and boots. Then you’re on your way to being a Texan.
James A. Michener
Few things are more iconically Texas, or American for that matter, than the cowboy hat. No matter its particular style, fashioned according to each wearer’s personality and tastes, or made of felt or straw, the cowboy hat is immediately recognizable by eastern dudes and European dandies. What’s not so easily recognizable are the unwritten rules governing the etiquette of the cowboy hat. While this isn’t true of the men who know how to spread a loop without getting it caught on a fence post, it is of those raised on concrete but like to play cowboy every now and again. It’s for the citified folks that this list of dos and don’ts is put together because in the presence of the real McCoy you don’t want to appear as if you only have hair under your hat.
Know When to Remove Your Hat
During the National Anthem.
During the Pledge of Allegiance.
During the passing of the United States and/or Texas flag(s).
During church services.
During a funeral procession.
During an indoor wedding.
When being introduced to a lady. (Tip your hat when passing a lady on the street.)
When being introduced to a stranger, especially an elder.
When entering a government building. (You may continue to wear your hat when entering public buildings like banks or stores.)
When entering a private home. (That’s someone’s momma’s home, maybe your own, and mommas are sacred to cowboys.)
When sitting in a theater.
When dining in a restaurant. (You may put your hat back on when you leave your table and are heading for the door; you may leave your hat on if talking with a friend at another table, if you are standing, but if you sit you should remove your hat; you may wear your hat if your eating in a dinner or sitting at a counter.)
While dancing, as a general rule but forgivable.
When speaking with a pastor or an elder of a church.
Pick the Right Hat for the Season
Felt can be worn year round—and should be for formal occasions—but generally from Labor Day (September) to Memorial Day (May).
Straw shouldn’t be worn year round—and never for formal occasions—but reserved for warmer moths, from Memorial Day (May) to Labor Day (September).
Unless you live in Australia, never wear a leather hat—at any time of year.
Handle Your Hat the Right Way
Take your hat off and put it on by its crown.
Hold your hat by the crown with the interior facing down your near your body so no one can see the lining.
Store your hat either on a hat rack or place it on its crown so as not to “reshape” the bring, and to catch any good luck that might fall your way.
If you sit your hat down for a short period of time, and there is no hat rack, place it brim-side down.
Never set your hat on a bed, it’s considered bad luck.
Never wear your hat backwards, it too is considered bad luck. (Always wear your hat with the ribbon tie on the lefthand side or the inside bow at the back.)
Never tip your hat to another man, it’s equivalent to calling him a sissy.
Proper Travel Care
Use a hat box when traveling by plane.
Use a hat rack when traveling by car/truck.
Never Touch Another Man’s Hat
It’s considered back luck, and could result in a black eye or a busted lip.
Exceptions to this rule: A fiancé may touch a cowboy’s hat—once; grandchildren can touch a grandfather’s hat as much as they want.
* Cowgirls can pretty much get away with anything. Them’s are the rules.