Are Hats Business Casual?
, by Alex Torres, 4 min reading time
, by Alex Torres, 4 min reading time
When you dress for the office, do you ever wonder if it would be appropriate to don a cap? Let's face it: Corporate hats aren't exactly a thing, but that doesn't mean they're completely out of the question. Some people truly believe in pushing the envelope and wearing their fashionable hats not just to the office, but also at the office. There's a difference, of course, and many different considerations apply.
What type of style fits? Can that fashionable hat ever be considered a suitable business casual accessory that won't shock the office? Remember that the hat in question should, at the very least, be more than just fashionable by traditional standards. A men's dress hat may be more appropriate than a fedora hat, for example. Similarly, a women's derby hat won't cut it at the office, but a polished vintage women's hat might. It all depends on a few factors, including your office's dress code and your own style aesthetic.
Hat etiquette is definitely a standard in the fashion industry. Although we live in a day and age where rules are often left in the past and an "anything goes" attitude reigns supreme, it's still worth noting that some of those rules really do matter. For example, you probably wouldn't wear jeans and a hat to a job interview. You wouldn't show up to a formal gala in a t-shirt.
In the same vein, hat etiquette dictates that indoor hats are more appropriate in social settings, and less so in business environments. This means that no matter how business casual a hat of a certain style might be, it probably won't work out so well if you wear it to the office. Digging even deeper, that etiquette actually applies primarily to women who often wear hats as part of their entire outfit. The etiquette suggests it's polite for men to remove their hats once they're inside, whether or not the occasion and setting is social or corporate.
Bear in mind that wearing any kind of fashionable hat is usually done to make a statement. Ultimately, the rules don't always apply when you work in a company where the attitude is more relaxed and low-key. If you work in a creative industry, for example, it may be perfectly appropriate to stride into the office wearing a men's fedora hat or another type of men's hat that fits your style. In a professional setting, you don't need to block harmful ultraviolet rays from your face and eyes. You can also probably find more appropriate ways to deal with your bad hair day than a hat.
Again, much of this is dependent on the environment in which you work. There's no place for even the most fashionable hat for men in a hoity-toity office, but there might be in a loft-style office where it's absolutely fine to wear anything from jeans to soft t-shirts. When in doubt, just ask a superior if you would be violating dress code by wearing a hat.
Business casual is very loosely defined as clothing that isn't quite formal but still pulled together enough to suggest the polish of a business environment. The idea is to convey a good impression without the need for, say, a suit and tie. In lieu of a suit, you may be able to get away with a button-down shirt, a blazer, and more relaxed trousers. It's casually refined, without the stuffiness associated with traditional corporate wear.
So where does a hat fit into this equation? It really doesn't, especially if societal norms, historic rules, and general standards have any say in the matter. There are exceptions to almost everything, though, and that applies here, too. If you're uncertain about what is considered acceptable and you're excited to show off that fashionable hat, you're well within your rights as an employee to simply ask. And if you happen to work from your home office, you can take comfort-business casual has an entirely different meaning, which means you can wear your hat without apology.