The rules of being Ken Salazar’s cowboy hat

Sen. Ken Salazar and friends in Montrose for an Oct. 10 Barack Obama presidential campaign stop. (Photo/BarackObama.com, Flickr)

Sen. Ken Salazar and friends in Montrose for an Oct. 10 Barack Obama presidential campaign stop. (Photo/BarackObama.com, Flickr)

Those wacky Beltway types. Even as Sen. Ken Salazar was being introduced as the new secretary of the Interior, the pundits were wondering whether his cowboy hat would be too “provocative” for the office. And this amusing, if utterly inaccurate claim from MSNBC anchor David Shuster: “I hear from one of our correspondents that you’re not supposed to wear a cowboy hat like that indoors unless you’re at a square dance or an indoor livestock auction.”


According to “Andy,” who appears to know just about everything about the etiquette of wearing hats, here are a few rules that apply to the old wearing, and doffing, of the hat:

Hats are worn less now, but at the turn of the 20th century, all adults wore hats whenever they left the house. It was a matter of good personal hygiene, since hats were a protection from industrial dirt.

Hats are removed when inside, except for places that are akin to public streets, like lobbies, corridors, and crowded elevators (non-residential). In a public building (where there are no apartments), the elevator is considered a public area.

You may choose to remove your hat in a public elevator, but in the presence of a lady your hat must be removed. ??A gentleman takes off his hat and holds it in his hand when a lady enters the elevator in any building that can be classified as a dwelling such as an apartment house or hotel. He puts it on again in the corridor. ?

A public corridor is like the street, but an elevator in a hotel or apartment house has the character of a room in a house and there a gentleman does not keep his hat on in the presence of ladies.

And this, from “Evil Swede’s Guide to Proper Hat Etiquette”:

Indoors, a man should always remove his hat, (particularly in a home, church, courtroom or restaurant) except:?
(1) in some public buildings or public places such as railroad stations or post offices;?
(2) in the main parlor area of a saloon or general store;?
(3) or while seated at the “lunch counter” of a diner or cafe;
(4) in entrance halls and corridors of office buildings, or hotels;
(5) in elevators of public or office buildings, unless a woman is present;?
(6) if carrying packages, parcels or bags and both hands are occupied upon entry.?
(7) If the man is an actor or performer and the hat is being worn as a part of a costume or performance. ???

If in doubt, it is best for a gentleman to remove his hat indoors as soon as practical.? It is considered a sign of contempt and/or disrespect to leave your hat on when it would be proper to remove it. It is surprising how many people do not remove their hats for the National Anthem or a passing funeral procession.. a shame really.

And the final word, from the official Cowboy Hat Etiquette site:

You should always take your hat off indoors, except under the following conditions:
a) in public buildings, e.g., railway station or post office?
b) in entrance halls and entrances to hotels or office buildings?
c) in elevators of public buildings or offices.

Since Salazar was wearing his hat at a news conference, the public building rule would seem to apply, as he was being introduced by President-elect Barack Obama.

But a comment from a reader at The Wall Street Journal’s live-blogging of Obama’s news conference may be enough to inspire the new secretary of the Interior to consider another look — like maybe a pork pie.

“Ken Salazar looks like Dick Cheney with the hat and bolo tie.”

Ouch!

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Cara Degette

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