Headgear is the name given to any element of clothing which is worn on one's head. A hat is headgear on the top of the head, but excluding a wig.


Table of contents
1 Types of headgear
2 Protective hats
3 Fashionable hats
4 Religious hats
5 Jewelry
6 Hat etiquette

Types of headgear

Protective hats

The most common use of a hat is as protection for the head and eyes. A baseball cap is used by sports players to keep the sun out of their eyes, and by some chefs to keep the hair out of their food. Traditionally, silk chef's hats are used for this purpose. A rain hat has a wide rim to keep the rain out of the wearer's face. Some traditional types of hat such as the Mexican sombrero also serve this purpose. There are also the full range of helmets. There are also hats that are worn for protection from the cold. These include many varities of fur hats, and also the Canadian tuque.

Fashionable hats

Hats are also an article of fashion; the formal man's black silk top hat was formerly an indispensable portion of the suit, and women's hats have, over the years, attained a fantastic number of shapes ranging from immense confections to no more than a few bits of cloth and decorations piled on top of the head. Recently, the hat as an article of formal wear has fallen out of fashion, though some kinds of hats other than baseball caps may be included in young people's subcultural fashions.

Religious hats

A number of hats are used for religious purposes. Observant Jewish men wear yarmulkes, small cloth skull-caps, because they believe the head should be covered in the presence of God. Some Jewish men wear yarmulkes at all times, others in the synagogue.

Similar to the yarmulke is the zucchetto worn by Roman Catholic clergy. Other forms of apostolic head-gear include the mitre, biretta, tasselled cardinal's hat, and the papal tiara.

Male Sikhs are required to wear turbans. See also the fez (clothing).

The term red hat when used within the Roman Catholic Church refers to the appointment of a Cardinal, a senior Prince of the Church who is a member of the electoral college that chooses the Pope. A person on being appointed to the cardinalate is said to have received the red hat or cardinal's biretta.


A number of jewelss, including the crown, coronet, and tiara, have evolved from the hat.

Hat etiquette

Men who wear hats typically take them off in church (but not a synagogue) and other buildings, as a salute, when a national anthem is played, and at other such occasions. The hat can be "tipped" (briefly removed) as a greeting. Women usually do not take off their hats in these situations, but take their hats off in their own homes.

Red Hat produces Red Hat Linux, a widely used distribution of Linux.

The neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote a book entitled The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. Michael Nyman later wrote an opera with the same title, based on the case-study which gave that book its name.