Monday, 21 November 2011

Hat-wearing etiquette's time to enter the modern era

Recently I walked into a lawn bowls club on match day wearing my black fedora-style hat.  I was told that I had to remove my hat as it was club rules. I looked around and there were the ladies sitting there with their hats on. Of course, the rules are that ladies MUST keep their hats on in the club. Hmmm.

John Brack: Collins St 5pm, 1955
Now I'm not completely opposed to etiquette, or "when in Rome..." type standards, but I am opposed to standards that are imposed that make no sense at all in 2011.  This hat issue is certainly one of those.  According to all writers on hat etiquette, when the wearing of hats was commonplace until the middle of the 20th century, there were a long list of hat wearing rules that men and women followed.  John Brack's famous painting reflects that era in "Collins St 5pm".

It's important to remember that during those times, issues of gender inequality along with class/status issues were integral to Australian, American and British culture (one might argue it hasn't much changed in Britain!). So, a man removed his hat to deference to a superior or to a woman.

If I wear a hat, do I have to relinquish sexual equality?

So, the etiquette of the mid 20th century has been largely forgotten, and now hats are making a comeback.  Those who are old enough to remember the traditions of 50 years ago expect that the same protocols should apply now. As a man, I am expected to remove my hat in the club, but the women are expected to leave theirs on.  Huh? It no longer makes any sense.

If the etiquette is about a hat being an outdoor item, then men or women should take a hat off when indoors.  Or, a more modern take on hat etiquette is "if you are in transit, leave the hat on. If you’re stopping or sitting or staying for a while, take it off." Again, that would make equal sense for men and women.

Fashion - it's the new thing

The fashion advisers are telling us guys that hats are in.  The retailers are selling us lots of cool hats, and the paparazzi are happily snapping the models indoors with their hats on in the spring carnival marquees.

Of course, the ladies wear their hats all day, but it's just as sensible if it's a men's fashion item that they should wear their hat as well.

Don't make me fight you, old bowls and RSL clubs

I'm not going to shame the bowls club I entered or the RSL club with this published policy

At no time is the following allowed -
- Hats/beanies, including bandana’s
            (ladies are allowed to wear hats when worn as a 
              fashion item, not caps etc)

But needless to say, these clubs are now out of touch with modern society. If they don't want hats worn inside - then, fine - for men and women alike.  But, hanging onto their sexist rules are just anachronistic, like some of the committee members.

OK, so hat etiquette isn't the most important topic in the world, but it still shines a light on how old traditions can undermine modern equality

Let me know what you think

No comments:

Post a Comment