The Hat's Back, Jack
In 1985, I began working for Dominos Pizza. I stayed with them for close to thirteen years before jumping ship and going to work for Papa John’s. I did a few stints during that time as an assistant manager and as the marketing person for our local area, but for the most part I was simply a delivery driver. I loved the job, which was why I kept doing it for so many years. I loved the flexibility the schedule allowed to spend time with the boys as they were growing up. What I didn’t like about either job was the uniform. Those I hated.
First, it was the shirts. I’m not a big pullover type of guy. I prefer button down shirts, especially long sleeve. Furthermore, they have to have a breast pocket for my notebook and pen. The last few years before I quit to hide out on my back porch and write, I was able to buy my own shirts to fit my comfort level as long as I put the logo on it. It was well worth the cost.
The other part of the uniform I hated was the hat. They were baseball caps and for eight to ten hours a day I was stuck with one on top of my head. They were hot and sweaty and I honestly blame them for rubbing the hair off of the top of my head. I never saw a need to comb my hair back then as I was always in the hat. My hair repaid me by falling out.
For the last several years, I took the hat off whenever I wasn’t around people, meaning customers. As soon as I slid into my car, I tossed it onto the dash. While preparing for the day, the hat hung on a hook next to me, ready to be slid into place the minute the door dinged. It was off more than it was on and I preferred it that way.
It was because I fought so hard against wearing those uniform hats that the girls looked at me a little strange when I purchased my first fedora a few years ago. It was gray and black and I donned the hat almost every time we walked out the door. And then I bought my next one, a red plaid to celebrate Christmas. I also bought some solid black ones, a green one for St. Patrick’s Day, purple for Mardi Gras, and a few straw hats for summer. As much as I had hated hats before, I was now almost always seen wearing one. The 8 year-old even put one on last year to match me as she did her homework because “Robbie always wears a hat when he writes. It seems to help.”
And she’s right. Most days, I can be found on my back porch or any of my many mobile office sites, fedora in place, cigar in one hand, black Precise V5 in the other, and a hot cup of coffee on idle as the words flow. The hat has become part of my daily attire once again, not because I’m forced to wear it in order for some company to get their logo on my body in one more place, but because I want to. That makes all the difference in my world.
Men wore hats up until the 1950s, but since have suffered a fashion decline. The past couple of years, however, there has been a resurgence of men donning hats once again. And why not? Hats are not only stylish, but versatile. They hide that bad hair day or, as in the case of Frank Sinatra and myself, hide the receding hairline. They keep your head warm as well as offer some eye protection against the sun. Furthermore, they not only add a unique touch to your outfit, but also add an air of sophistication. They give you confidence and style. How you wear your hat can say quite a bit about your mood at the time. The tilted hat over the eyes conveys a sense of mysteriousness and can appear intimidating while a 1 inch tilt straight up shows that you are all business. Push the hat back and people will see you as open and approachable.
However, what many don’t seem to understand is that when you don a hat, you are also accepting the etiquette that accompanies that particular accessory. It seems to have escaped the decency of good manners in the upbringing of boys along with opening car doors for ladies and the proper use of cell phones. Since I don’t want you to remain ignorant, I will share a few rules that go along with donning a hat. That’s right, you don a hat. You do not simply “put it on.” You also don’t “take it off.” You doff it. If you’re going to learn the etiquette you might as well learn the lingo. See? Style is oozing out of you already and your confidence is building.
First, let’s look at the etiquette of greeting. When you meet a male friend out in public, simply touch the brim of your hat lightly. However, when meeting a lady, either raise the hat by the crown or doff it, bringing the hat forward so that the inside of the hat is facing your chest. It is considered ill-mannered to show the lining of your hat for various reasons, mainly, because it’s dirty.
Next, and this has sadly been tossed out the window with a younger generation and a lack of parental teaching, whenever you enter someone’s home, a restaurant, or an elevator, doff your hat. Furthermore, never wear your hat during a meal. It’s called manners and while many do not feel it is necessary in modern society, I assure you, it’ll get you a step above everyone else. While most will tell you that those things don’t matter, people do take notice and you will be seen as a gentleman, a step above modern man.
Finally, regardless of what you are wearing, when the National Anthem plays, you doff your hat and place it over your heart. That’s more than just good manners, that’s respect.
Hats are returning and, to me, that is a good thing. However, make sure you know how to wear one properly before just slipping it on the top of your head. For instance, don’t wear your fedora with a pullover. Trust me.
So, go out and try a few on. Find what fits you, not just in size, but in personality. I bet you walk a little different.
* * * * *