Hat and Glove Etiquette

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by IHeartWallabies, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. IHeartWallabies

    IHeartWallabies Registered Guest

    Hello, I've recently been watching "The House of Eliott" on DVD, and thoroughly enjoying it. However, a few times, I've been confused by hat and glove etiquette for ladies!

    I thought gloves were always to be removed when eating, however I recall at least two scenes when they were left on (Aunt Lydia at the grand opening of the House of Eliott, and Evie in a tearoom). Are gloves generally removed indoors, or left on? When eating? When shaking hands (unless you're the Queen, who seems to always leave them on)?

    My understanding is that ladies are almost always permitted to leave hats on, as it is considered part of their outfit, and may be difficult to remove (hat pins, etc). So, leave on, even in church, when the national anthem is played (if it's a formal hat, remove if informal such as a baseball cap). However, daytime hats are removed at dusk. Generally, hats are not part of evening attire, unless it's a small cocktail hat, in which case, it may be left on indoors including at concerts, as long as it's small enough not to obstruct others' view. Generally correct/any additions?

    Modern etiquette seems to involve using your best judgement. However, but I'm curious about what the historic "rules" even were.

    Thank you!

    P.S. Modern etiquette question for men’s hats – men are generally expected to remove hats indoors, especially when eating, but what about when you’re at a casual cafe, and there’s no coat rack or empty chair at your table to store your hat? If it were a more formal restaurant, I’d suggest my partner ask the host for somewhere to store his hat (and trust that they have a space). But at informal places (which often seem short on space), what’s a gent to do?
  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    Re: modern hat etiquette for gentlemen - this is a problem my partner Kenn and I have noticed as we often wear hats (and not baseball hats, but fedoras etc.) Most restaurants no longer have racks or hooks for hats, and there is rarely an empty seat to put one's hat, so we generally avoid wearing a hat if we know we will be going to a restaurant unless its an informal eatery or out doors.

    Historically, I will let a hat expert answer your question, but as for gloves, I believe the rule is - once you are seated, the gloves come off. So if you are at a party, you keep the gloves on, but when you sit for dinner, you remove your gloves.
  3. Leonardo da Vintage

    Leonardo da Vintage Administrator Staff Member

    Someone once told me - I have no idea if this is true, and would love to have it confirmed or denied - that for ladies hats, they would be removed only if there was an opportunity to go to a cloakroom or some such room, with a mirror, where one could remove them carefully and check one's hair.

    So for instance, they might be removed if one was invited to someone's house, rather than a public place, and that room and opportunity would be provided.
  4. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Trade Member

    I'm not an expert at all in this area, but have had it ingrained in me that ladies remove their gloves when eating! You put them in your purse or, with bags that had straps for this on their exterior, through those. Unless, and this is the only exception I can think of, you are wearing formal, fingerless gauntlet-style gloves or half-fingered gloves. These generally match your outfit and would, I assume, be considered part of your attire. I wore lace gauntlet gloves with my wedding gown, and these were to be kept on during dinner.

    I totally agree about hat etiquette, both men's and ladies. It makes me nuts to see a man leave his hat on in a restaurant, at a party, or when the national anthem is played. I always thought men were supposed to remove any hat then, whether formal or informal....
  5. Rue_de_la_Paix

    Rue_de_la_Paix Trade Member


    Ah...the good old days when everyone paid attention to etiquette!

    There are varying rules and proper behavior as far as ladies hats, and it changed over the last 150 years slightly. The one constant was that a lady never "has to" remove her hat unless requested (as in the case of a theater, etc), .....with the exception being that a woman never wears a hat in her own home while receiving guests. It gives the appearance that you are wanting to, or about to, leave the house. This would be insulting to your guests as it made them feel unwanted or obtrusive. So, your lady guests could leave on their hats or bonnets, but you had to remove yours. If you were expecting calls you would not even wear a house cap, and the house cap would be quickly removed if you had an unexpected caller at the door.

    There are certain styles of hats which would not be worn at certain times of the day, or social occasions, and also by women of a certain age, but that is a longer list for another time and that changed from era to era also.

    A man is expected to remove his hat indoors under all public circumstances and in another's home. Very few adhere to this today. I love a man in a good hat, but not at a dinner table. But with no hat checks at restaurants today, this is a problem I agree. Sitting at the bar, of course it looks fine. It is really only when dining that it is still a bit socially awkward, but nobody really pays attention to this rule, do they? At an outdoor cafe, or a picnic, boating, etc. the hat may remain on the head while dining, which may account for the European's love of outdoor cafes!

    Since you asked....As far as hats not generally being part of evening attire, that is not really true...that is a recent change and is not a hard rule, just a personal choice. Ladies often wore hats and head wear in the evening, always when going outdoors, and it was fine to wear hats indoors at restaurants, parties, etc. In the mid 19th century a small fanchon bonnet or small lace and feather bonnet was often worn for even the most fancy balls. Early 20th century evening head wear had its own styles...and in the 1950's some hats were referred to as "Dinner Hats" or theater hats, after 5 hats,... and were only worn ofter 5 PM and were left on the head all evening. Evening hats were small affairs, as might be expected.

    Gloves were always removed when sitting at the dining or tea table. A lady may leave her gloves on indoors as long as she is not seated at a table on which food is served.

    I was surprised also to see the gloves left on in that Elliot scene. Of course, if she had not yet started eating, it would be tolerated. But if she takes even 1 sip of tea...off they must go!


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