A hat is a type of covering for the head, and there are many types of hats.
Hats are different in different parts of the world. Some hats are worn by women, other hats by men, others by both; infants and children may also wear hats, and some hats are not worn by anyone at all. These hats are just used for decoration. People who make hats for men are called hatters, and those who make hats for women are called milliners. The kinds of hats (or caps, which are like hats) worn by different groups within various societies in different countries are very numerous.
Some types of hats or caps are worn as a sign of social roles. For example, bishops wear mitres and some lawyers wear wigs. In these cases the special headware is only worn on specific occasions. Monarchs wear crowns on special occasions.
All kinds of clothing send social messages as to what the person is. For years workmen in Britain wore caps, but foremen (supervisors) wore bowler hats. So, in traditional societies it was expected of a person that he or she would dress appropriately. Other people would know from their clothes what kind of person was on view. That aspect of hats and clothing in general is much less true today.
Some examples of hats:
- baseball cap, for baseball players and many others
- beaver hat, made of beaver skin
- beret, for fishermen or peasants in parts of western Europe
- bowler hat, for men practising some traditionally middle class occupations
- coonskin cap, for some hunters or trappers
- cowboy hat, for cowhands
- fedora, a felt hat of a particular shape
- fez, similar to a tarboush, found in many Islamic countries
- helmet, either for those serving in the armed forces or for sportsman (e.g. motorcyclists)
- mitre, for formal use by bishops
- riding helmet, a helmet for horse riders
- sombrero, for the Latin American peasant
- ten-gallon hat, a type of cowboy hat
- top hat, for the smart men of the world
Traditionally during the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was considered bad form to wear hats indoors, except in barns and the most public spaces inside public buildings. Women traditionally were exempt during church services and formal dinners. Today, certain establishments such as banks, schools and military facilities ban hats, and many companies ban hats as part of their employee dress codes.