Come winter, my extremities are always cold. It’s not really a problem, except for my head. At home, I wear a hoodie or sometimes a wool babushka. But what should you do at work or in other indoor public places? What is the label on the hats inside? — Patricia, Manchester Township, NJ
To wear or not to wear a hat indoors used to be a very simple question. For men, a fedora or trilby was an outdoor accessory for moving between home and the office. Once inside, they immediately removed it. For women, a hat worn as part of an outfit was allowed to almost always remain on the head, partly out of sensitivity to the hat hairstyle problem; partly because we recognize that a hat is part of a look, like a necklace or shoes; and partly because, well, you try to put a fascinator on and take it off at will.
However, as the rules about when to wear a hat have become fuzzier – like almost all dress code rules – the generally accepted default has become no hats at the table, but maybe hats everywhere else (except during the national anthem). Indeed, these days the question is less whether you should wear a hat indoors and more about what hat exactly can you wear?
I think the answer largely comes down to the usual question of personal freedom versus the social contract. You’re always balancing your own needs (head heat!) and desires (I like the look!) with those of others. Note: a wide-brimmed hat, or even a homburg, could easily annoy someone at a dinner party if, for example, the seats were close and you turned your head too quickly. Any head covering that shades or hides the eyes is not ideal in a social situation. And if you’re one of those from a previous generation who might be offended by an inner hat, perhaps suffering from inner cold is worth it, on the whole, so as not to suffer from the emotional cold that might come with it. result.
However, even if a study published in The British Medical Journal dispelled the myth that we lose 40 percent of our body heat through our heads (the study says it’s more like 10 percent, which is the head-to-body surface area ratio), it is also true that a head exposed can be uncomfortably cold. So, all the above labels accepted, what to do?
If you want to test the waters, a beanie is probably the safest choice, partly because it’s the least intrusive and fussy type of hat. You could always try calling beanies “headwear” instead and see if that helps reframe the conversation. I have a colleague who often wears a little black beanie to work with her baggy pants and cropped jacket, and she looks awfully cool. Rihanna wore hers to the Met Gala in 2021 and was featured on best-dressed lists everywhere.
But there is another solution that avoids the question altogether. What is this miracle item, you ask?
A cross between a very thick headband and a beanie, often in cashmere or wool, it is a hybrid invention covering a large part, but not all, of the head. (Hybrid inventions, such as the jacket and the coatigan, are pretty much my favorite fashion items.) The earmuff is the equivalent of cozy sock slippers, but for the other end of the body, and thus solves both the heat and etiquette problem – as well as a host of other potential dilemmas.
Additionally, earmuffs often vaguely resemble a fortune teller’s scarf, with a bow at the crown, which gives you a sort of mysterious air and offers a potential conversation starter. If you’re feeling crafty, there are plenty of patterns available online. And if you’re running out of ideas for Christmas gifts, this is always a good option.
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