Don’t Put Your Hat on the Bed: Cowboy Hat Etiquette

If you wear a cowboy hat — or think you might — it’s always good to know the etiquette surrounding it. Here are 10 tips to make sure you don’t accidentally end up in a fight or curse yourself with a string of bad luck:

Anyone who watches Yellowstone likely will remember the scene where Jimmy finally gets a decent hat and then gets yelled at for putting it on the bed. Or the subsequent scene when Kayce moves into the bunkhouse, puts his hat on the bed, and then declares he “doesn’t believe in that sh*t” when the wranglers yell at him. If you don’t remember it — or don’t watch Yellowstone — here’s a recap:


@bobbywilliams6416 #yellowstone #yellowstonetv #kaseydutton #6666 #6666ranch @dalebrisby90 ♬ original sound – Bobby Williams8222

So what’s the deal with putting the hat on the bed? The superstition is that it’s bad luck. According to American Cowboy,  in the best case scenario, “putting a hat on a bed is said to invite mischievous bad luck or foretell an argument; at worst, it’s a premonition of injury or death.” Eek. No wonder the wranglers yelled at Jimmy.* But this begs the question: What is the proper etiquette for cowboy hats? Here are 10 manners to mind when it comes to cowboy hats:

1. Always remove your hat when you enter someone’s home (or generally a place where people live). It’s fine to keep it on when you enter a public building like a bank or store. The exceptions are religious buildings and courtrooms (come on folks, show some respect).

2.. Similarly, remove your hat during the singing of the National Anthem, Passing of the Flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer, a funeral, a wedding, or the passing of a casket in a funeral procession.

3. When you remove your hat for the above purposes, hold your hat in the left hand with your right hand over your heart. You may also hold your hat in your right hand, followed by holding your hat over your heart. Either way is acceptable.

4. Never let your hat touch your bed. It’s bad luck (pretty sure we covered this one).

5. Rest your hat on the crown, not the brim. The crown will hold its shape better than if you rest it on the brim. Also, if any good luck falls your way, it might land in your upturned hat (as opposed to all the good luck running out of the crown).

6. The first time you meet a lady, take your hat off when you say greet her. After that, it’s fine to tip your hat to her.

7. Keep your hands off anyone else’s hat. Touching someone else’s hat is a serious fight-starting move.

8. Never show the inside of your hat while you’re holding it. Hold it against your chest or your leg.

9. If you need to adjust your hat, do so by the crown.

10. Know your seasons! Straw cowboy hats typically are worn in warmer temps, while felt cowboy hats are worn when it’s cold.  A good rule of thumb is to wear your straw hat from Memorial Day all the way through to Labor Day. (These dates are somewhat nebulous as it really depends on the temperature more than the summer holidays.) However, felt cowboy hats are also worn for formal occasions no matter the time of year.

Did we miss any must-know tips? Let us know in the Facebook comments.

*From a practical standpoint, there is good reason NOT to put a cowboy hat on a bed. Bear in mind, bathing wasn’t the most common occurrence in the Wild West. Therefore,  head lice were a common occurrence, and placing a hat on a bed was a good way to spread the itchy nuisances. Bad luck, indeed.