George Strait performs onstage during the 54th Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 07, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Rich Fury/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM

Respect the Tradition: The 5 Rules of Proper Cowboy Hat Etiquette

cowboy hat is more than just one of the most beloved items of western wear, it's a Texas symbol and a rite of passage if you want to be a proper cowboy or cowgirl. You probably didn't realize that there is some responsibility that comes with owning your own Stetson and living up to the expectations put in place in the Old West. Base-line points of cowboy hat etiquette will not only help you look like a real cowboy but will also allow you to act as more of a gentleman in general (though some of these should be common sense). Some of these rules might seem old-fashioned, but they show respect so you'll be prepared for any type of event or social situation.

Here are the five rules of proper cowboy hat etiquette.

1. Know When to Remove Your Hat

The first rule of cowboy hat etiquette is knowing when to remove your hat. During the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, the passing of the flag, indoor weddings, in church, during prayer, and during a funeral procession — all require the hat to go. It's a sign of respect. Also, remove your hat when introduced to a woman. You can hold the hat in one hand while you shake her hand in greeting with the other. Last but not least, remove your hat when entering a public building or private home, when you begin a new conversation, dining in a restaurant, or when speaking with an elder of the church. Basically, just plan on not wearing hats indoors as a good rule of thumb.

2. Pick the Right Hat for the Season

Make sure you're wearing the right hat for the time of year. Know when to wear your felt hat and when to wear your straw hat. Originally the felt cowboy hats were meant to keep the head warm on cold nights in the winter while the straw hats would keep you cool in the summer. Make practical choices because it doesn't make sense to sweat in winter wear when it's 100 degrees outside. It will also make you look more authentic if this is your first time.

3. Handle Your Hat the Right Way

In cowboy hat etiquette, always hold your hat the right way by holding it by the crown so that no one can see the lining.

4. Remember Proper Travel Care

Take care of your hat when you travel. Obviously, it will get squished throwing it in a suitcase so make use of travel hat boxes so that the shape is protected.

5. Never Mess With Another Cowboy's Hat

The most important rule of cowboy hat etiquette is to never mess with another cowboy's hat. Not only is it considered bad luck, but this is an extremely personal item that is often expensive. Would you ask to try on another man's hat? I didn't think so.

This story originally ran on April 24, 2020.

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READ MORE: How the Cowboy Hat Became a Staple of Western Wear