Monday, March 23, 2009

May Women Wear Hats Indoors?

Well, this post was prompted by my boss informing me that teachers in my school district are not allowed to wear hats indoors. I had received many compliments on my hats from my colleagues, students, and their parents, as they were classy, elegant, and well-coordinated with the rest of my professional attire.

When an adult is elegantly or classily dressed, this has traditionally included a hat. We are no longer in the hippy or grunge generation, both of which temporarily eclipsed the wearing of hats with a much more casual, uncovered head look, along with helping to create a concomitant increase in skin cancer. Hats are, however, making a comeback. They are increasingly being seen on the heads of many fashionable, professional people.

If one looks at milliner's websites or reads etiquette books, unlike hat etiquette for men, ladies most certainly do wear their hats indoors. Traditionally-styled women's hats (as opposed to gender-neutral baseball caps and cowboy hats) are considered a fashionable part of a woman's complete daytime outfit, and as such, remain on the head both indoors and outdoors.

"Hat head" results when ladies remove their hats, is often unattractive and may also look unprofessional. Personally, I'm embarrassed by hat head and would prefer to look both nice and professional. Unlike my employer, hat etiquette spares ladies like myself this embarrassment by allowing us to keep our hats on indoors, since many of us do wear them outdoors to prevent skin cancer (which, in my case, runs in my family).

Wearing hats outdoors is healthy, and they do help prevent skin cancer. Please don't say, "Well, you can always wear sunscreen." Up to approximately 56% of liquids that you put on your skin, including lotions like sunscreen, are absorbed into one's bloodstream and go directly to the major organs. I prefer to cover my head with a hat, rather than expose my body to nasty chemicals. Hats are passive solar protection that keep you warm in winter, cool in summer and help prevent skin cancer. Some hats even carry an SPF 50+ label, the highest possible SPF rating for a hat.

The American Cancer Society has stated that 1 in 5 people will develop some form of the fastest growing type of cancer in America: skin cancer. Most people receive most of their sun exposure before age 18, and skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in young women ages 25-29. Therefore, schools should encourage all of their students to wear hats, as a form of preventive medicine.

I believe that teachers model, not only learning behaviors, but proper personal hygiene and dress, as well as interpersonal behavior. Hats can be used to teach history, manners, and etiquette. As teachers are models of behavior for their students, shouldn't we be modeling the idea that wearing hats is cool and fashionable, as well as a useful protection against skin cancer?

My classroom behavior program also includes teaching traditional signs of respect, such as the custom that boys and gentlemen wait to allow girls and ladies the chance to enter a room ahead of them. All children stop to allow an adult to pass in front of them, as a sign of respect. The entire behavioral emphasis in my classroom is one of respect, consideration and encouragement of others. I have taught my students ladies' hat etiquette, as well. I have done all of this, without the distraction, but the assistance of a hat worn atop my head, both outdoors and indoors.

What are your thoughts about all of this? Should employers continue to go against traditional rules of etiquette and forbid female employees to wear hats indoors, as part of the dress code? Should employers change their dress code to allow, or even encourage, their employees to wear hats as a form of preventive medicine? At the same time, should they also follow the traditional custom of hat etiquette and allow their female employees to wear their hats indoors so as to spare them the embarrassment of hat head?

Here's part of an online ad for fashion-trendy hats for women:
"...Proudly carries Betmar's CCMAC 50+ SPF tag, in association with The Colette Coyne Melanoma Awareness Campaign. Hats are in, Save your skin, Be sunsmart!" (

Here's the Colette Coyne Melanoma Awareness Website:

1 comment:

  1. Often employers find it much easier to say no to all instances of something (such as hats) than to get into a situation where each individual instance must be judged based on someone's subjective opinion. Having worked in school districts, I would say that issues of appropriate dress are very difficult to enforce unless there are extremely clear "generic" rules.


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