Because sometimes, you have to take it off.
Being a regular hat wearer can present some minor problems that really make you aware that you’ve decided to live a hat life that the masses are just too timid to join. One of these is the often-asked question of what to do with your hat when you’re in a restaurant?
Back in the day they uses to have hat check- yes literally a coat check for hats. And if they didn’t have a hat check, then they at least had hat hangers next to or near your table. Now you’re lucky to even find a proper coat rack at most dining spots. But never fear- having worn fedoras for several years I’ve learned these lessons so you don’t have to!
First, the question of whether to keep your hat on or off has become a personal one. It you want to be completely traditional, then yes, inside a home, inside a restaurant, inside church, these kinds of places- you should always take off your hat. But I know plenty of hat wearers that are keeping their crown on inside no matter what, especially in a restaurant. I’m not here to judge at all, and if we’re gonna start policing traditional sartorial rules, then please, can we all agree to start with banning open toe sandals before we go anywhere near indoor hats?
But lets say you’re trying to be a bit more traditional and you want to take it off inside the restaurant. My rule of thumb has always been this: Standing at a bar or café- I keep it on. Sitting at a table, I take it off. If I’m waiting near the bar for my table to open up and be seated, I keep my hat on. When I’m walking to my table, I keep it on (I like to make an entrance). When I arrive at my table, off it goes. This is how I do it- you do you.
As for where to put it? Well, if you can, snag a booth! There's plenty of room in those seats for your hat and coat next to you and out of the way. If you get one of those booths with a ‘shelf’ behind you, you can put it up there. I’ve stashed mine there during a meal, just make sure you don’t forget about it before you leave after dinner- one too many drinks and you may not realize you're hatless until after closing time.
But lets say you’re not at a booth, just a four sided table with two chairs and that’s it. Now what? Well, I have two moves that I can share with you. The first is the knee trick. Your hat can rest comfortably on your knee out of the way and under the table (and safely away from your wine glass- no one wants a stain!). This is a my most used move and frankly is easier than you think with most hats.
My other move (and the one I usually use when I fly with a fedora) is to put the hat crown side down (upside down), under my chair. It’s out of the way, and the crown side is the same that’s exposed to the elements, so I’m not too worried about it in that position.
The main thing to remember whenever you take off your hat for s stretch- don’t forget about it! And this one goes for everywhere- don’t forget it on the plane, don’t forget it in a cab, don’t forget it at your girlfriend’s house, and don’t forget it at the restaurant. If it's your hat and as much a part of you as your lucky coin, make sure it's with you so you don't have a lamentable lost-hat story later. Leave looking as good as your arrived!