In the past, hats were an essential part of a gentleman's formal clothing. As men dressed up for events such as weddings and funerals, they "topped off" their outfits with a shiny top hat. Today, hat styles range from ball caps to cowboy hats and fedoras. One thing that has not changed, however, is the tradition of wearing nice clothing to a funeral in respect for the deceased. This may or may not include a hat.
It's OK to wear a hat to a funeral -- as long as the hat is clean and formal. No baseball caps or knitted caps should be worn to funerals. The hat should be a dress hat, such as one that is part of a military uniform, or a more formal style such as a fedora.
Hats should always be removed indoors. Once you enter the funeral location, remove your hat and tuck it under your arm. Or, place it on the seat next to you, if there is room. Do not place the hat back on your head until you are outdoors and the service is over.
Etiquette states that hats can be worn outdoors before and after the funeral, with a few exceptions. When the hat is on your head, position it so that the rim is parallel to the ground and not tipped at an angle. Remove the hat during a grave-site service, as a sign of respect to the pastor or minister and more importantly, as a sign of respect for the deceased and the family of the deceased. Hats should be fully removed when an American flag is presented or when a funeral procession passes by.
Some religions and ethnic groups have customs that require the head to be covered at all times during a funeral or while in a place of worship. For example, Jewish men wear small caps called yarmulkes while in synagogues as a sign of humility before God. Always follow the lead of the family of the deceased when choosing whether to wear a hat or other head covering to a funeral.
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images