Style Thinking

Wearing Hats: Self-Expression + Cultural Etiquette

Wearing Hats: Self-Expression + Cultural Etiquette | Cara Hotz Style

The one thing that I absolutely know about hats is that when you are wearing one, people will talk to you.

People on the street will catch you to offer, “Nice hat!” or “love your hat!” or even, “I wish I could wear hats.” (Secretly what they mean is that they wish they had the confidence to wear one—and could enjoy the attention it garners. It’s not for everyone.)

Because wearing a hat is such a catalyst for social interaction, it’s the perfect vehicle to illustrate what we mean when we talk about the “intersection of self-expression and cultural etiquette.”

Just like the rest of your wardrobe or the way you create your space at home, wearing a hat is an exercise in the mix of how you express yourself as an individual (self-expression) and how you interact with others (cultural etiquette).

For example…

High Self-Expression + Low Cultural Etiquette

Imagine that you are sitting in a theater. A woman walks in with a fantastic hat. It’s dramatic, it’s beautiful, and it fits her perfectly. She walks confidently down the aisle to her row, and she sits directly in front of you. She does not remove her fantastic hat. You can’t see anything but her hat. While her fantastic hat is a fantastic expression of her individuality, in the context of a theater, it also becomes a barrier to having successful interactions with the people around her. It’s a turn-off, even if her hat is fantastic.

Low Self-Expression + High Cultural Etiquette

The next woman we imagine is on the street. Her hat is fashionable, maybe even “on trend.” Very acceptable in the scope of the culture and fashion, etc, etc. What’s more, she selected it for just that reason. However, it lacks interest or edge because there is virtually no self-expression involved. So, though appropriate and even fashionable, it’s not memorable.

High Self-Expression + High Cultural Etiquette … The Magic

The real magic happens with the next woman we imagine, also on the street. She’s wearing a hat with some flair. It fits her—inside and out. It may be flashy, it may be demure… it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it jibes with her spirit, her approach to life and the realities of it; she’s confident and approachable. She is expressing herself through the experience of wearing it, and she’s ready to greet the response her style choice will surely inspire.

To illustrate, here’s a diagram showing self-expression and cultural etiquette levels with through the prism of these hat-inspired scenarios:

Personal Style Quotient™ through the Prism of Wearing Hats

Thinking Broadly About Style

When you consider a hat, think about more than its physical nature. And when you consider your personal style, think about more than your physical presence. Think about who you are, inside and outside, and the life you live today. Your values and inspirations, your own life responsibilities, as well as your physical presence. The big enchilada!

Self-expression, Cultural Etiquette, and You

Your Personal Style Quotient™ (PSQ) reveals the basis of your personal style, where self-expression and cultural etiquette intersect for you. Your result also gives you suggestions about areas that you can elevate how you express your style to increase your own self-fulfillment and become an inspiration to others.

It’s the first step to discovering your own personal style, and you can try it now.


What are your thoughts on the cultural etiquette aspect of wearing hats? What happens when you wear your hat?

Please share your story in the comments below— I’d love to hear what you think!



– Cara.



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  • Jimmy Fodar

    Love this piece.
    Succinct definition of the right mix/quotient of style.
    And really love the sketches of hats…

  • Cara Hotz

    Thank you!