Are You Comfortable Wearing Your Hat in The Summer?

The NY Times had an article on Hasidic dress in the warm weather. It reminded us of the days when David Kelsey used to comment here, and he would often voice his objection to inappropriate Orthodox dress in the summer in the non-Hasidic communities.

In any case, many of us non-Hasidim do wear hot black felt hats in the summer. In what hashkafic basket do you put that practice?

Do you feel the benefits of being part of a community by adopting their standard dress brings great benefits?

Do you think it’s more or less important for BTs to conform to communal dress codes?

28 comments on “Are You Comfortable Wearing Your Hat in The Summer?

  1. Ron Coleman:

    Ah, I remember that post! Good times…

    I must conclude that I sweat more than you do, then.
    Not to go into the gory details, but please believe me when I say that as much as I would like to be able to dress “appropriately respectable” at all times in all climates and in all weather, once the temperature gets above a certain level it becomes impossible, and ónes Raḥmana paá¹­reih.

    In addition to which, i have a sensory sensitivity issue that makes what would be a minor degree of physical discomfort on someone else a serious affliction on me.

    So while I admire your successful dedication in embodying this particular value, I am not quite there myself and may never be. Not that I’m giving up, mind you, but not everything that is desirable is also possible.

  2. #25 Steve – I asked about mekoros for wearing davka a black hat on Shabbos, not about distinctive dress.

    You are 100% right that there are mekoros for wearing your “Shabbos best” for Shabbos, YT, and simchos, and you are 100% right that there are mekoros for tefilah. In fact, Rav Sternbuch holds that wearing a black hat for davening is in fact a chiuv.

    However, my question is with regard to wearing a black hat on Shabbos. I know of no posek who says that wearing a black hat is in itself a chiuv on Shabbos.

  3. There are definite mkoros for distinctive dress for Shabbos, YT and simchos. One cannot deny that such mkoros also exist with respect to Hilcos Tefilah.

  4. #3 Steve – Would you please reference for us the makoros in Shas and the poskim for wearing a black hat on Shabbos?

    There are makoros that say it is a part of kavod Shabbos, but none of them (that I’m aware of) say that wearing a hat is a chiuv on Shabbos.

    If you weren’t insinuating that it was a chiuv, then please disregard. I just figured that since you said that there are makoros in Shas and the poskim that you were implying that it was obligatory on Shabbos.

    #11 Laura – what makes you say that tznius is only a mitzvah bein adam l’makom and not (also) bein adam l’chavero?

  5. It’s not worth dressing “nicer” for Shabbos if you’ll just end up looking disgusting from sweating through your formal clothes.

    I hate sweating, and I sweat a lot. But I have never sweated so much that the effect was, I believe, “looking disgusting.”

    I have looked and felt physically uncomfortable by meeting what I was taught in yeshiva to be the appropriate standard of dress for a yungerman [married “young” man] going about in the street — a standard I try to still meet at least on Shabbos. I am comfortable experiencing some discomfort in order to experience the heightened level of self-respect arising from dressing in a way that, in my circles (or those to which I aspire), is deemed appropriately respectful to Shabbos. So for me it is “worth” it.

    For what it’s worth, one of my first posts on this blog was on this topic.

  6. I have at various times worn hats for davening. Perhaps more important is adopting dignified attire befitting speaking to one’s Creator. I know for some a hat may be part of that.

    To present a contrary view, if I took to wearing a hat more frequently for the above reasons I would dafka not wear a black fedora. I think frumkite has reached a point where the parameters of dress have become artificially narrowed, and likely lead to excessive conformity of thinking in sizeable numbers of individuals. Yes, I know there are great men, past and present, who dress in the uniform. Presumably their immersion in Torah protects them from doing things for the sake of external show. Furthermore, we’ve all seen pictures of gedolim in their youth and can see that “the uniform” was not the norm. They simply dressed liked menchen.

  7. It’s not worth dressing “nicer” for Shabbos if you’ll just end up looking disgusting from sweating through your formal clothes.

    While this statement makes a whole lot of sense to me, there are large numbers of people who, apparently, disagree, based on my observations of their Shabbos attire in recent weeks.

  8. Not being a member of a “black hat” community, i wear gray hats during the winter season and ‘natural’ colored straw hats during the summer season. (and a more durable brown felt hat during the rain) The important thing to remember about straw hats is that they’re not meant to withstand rain, so if you want to wear it at shul you can leave it there. During the hotter months I frequently end up leaving my hat, jacket and tie all at shul because I happen to naturally sweat more than it seems is the norm. It’s not worth dressing “nicer” for Shabbos if you’ll just end up looking disgusting from sweating through your formal clothes.

  9. ‘many of us non-Hasidim do wear hot black felt hats in the summer’

    I don’t wear black felt hats ever. It isn’t really about hashkafah; I have never liked hats and just wear a yarmulke.

    I also don’t wear a suit when it is hot, even on Shabat. Some of the greatest Rabbis in Eretz Yisrael never wear suits or hats.

  10. I can think of various designs and colors of men’s hats that look good and would, in principle, be dignified enough for shul wear. Some were once used by frum Jews but have been abandoned in favor of the current style. I see no deep significance in the current style, but it serves the purpose of presenting a uniform image. Next step is for us all to present something more important, a uniform image of excellence in interpersonal relations.

  11. EPA18, from a simplistic point of view, conformity is about what other people think. But there are deeper concepts and nuances, some of which have been discussed here on Beyond BT. I’ll try to dig up some of the appropriate links.

  12. EPA18L I agree. The Shabbos minyan I daven in is primarily an “FFB” minyan. Many don’t wear hats and the ones that do really could care less.

    I find that my FFB friends who wore a hat for their Bar Mitzvah, have chosen not to wear one as an adult because they don’t like the stereotype of being “black hat” or because they were forced to wear one by their family or their yeshiva.

  13. The fact that you need to ask such questions indicates you are still ill at ease with being frum, at least from a sociological perspective. I used to say in response to such questions, “Of course you should wear a hat if that is your community’s norm.” However, I really believe these days that the others who do wear hats care less about whether you do or do not wear a hat than you may realize.

  14. I am in Italy right now, it is very hot, and yet, I am wearing…a straw hat!

    It is not for hashkafic reasons, however, but to keep the sun off my fair skin.

    I don’t know if my straw hat will make it back to the U.S., unfortunately, or I would be happy to donate it to Steve or Ron.

    Anyway, off to the line for the Uffizi (no judgements!).

    Hope you’re all doing well.

  15. I found the point made by Commenter #5 Shades of Gray to be very interesting. I’ve seen photos of the Mirrer Yeshiva bochurim from seventy years ago in Shanghai, and most of them are dressed quite differently from our usual concept of what Yeshiva men wear: clean shaven, caps not hats, open-necked shirts. Of course I understand they had no air conditioning and that conditions in Shanghai in the summer were dangerously hot and humid, approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 100 percent humidity. Nevertheless, in old photos of Yeshivaleit going back about 90 years to the nineteen-twenties, it’s ironically the rebbes and Roshei Yeshiva who look contemporary (because they’re dressed just like today’s rebbes and Roshei Yeshiva), while the young men who are wearing what was men’s style in 1920 look hopelessly out of date.

  16. I don’t believe this should be thought of as something between man and man. Tznius is a mitzvah between us and Hashem. The only consideration is to make sure it is relevant in the community you have chosen to live in. What is ‘it’?

    It is to be in Hashem’s image. For our souls to be housed in something dignified. To determine what is dignified you only have to look at the English queen or anyone of great stature. Yes, being tznius is about not standing out in order to be noticed, but it is just as much about our own self image. At the end of the day you know when you stand in the mirror and feel dignified. You might keep a special part of that for simchas or shabbos, but don’t forget to feel amazing during the week too.

  17. Part of my kavod Shabbos is wearing a nice suit, shirt, shoes and tie. Part of my oneg Shabbos is NOT wearing a hat or anything else that isn’t suited for the weather.

    Although I realize there are communities where this isn’t an option because of community norms.

  18. Neil, the black and white straw hats are seen less and less in both Kew Gardens Hills and Chofetz Chaim.

    It could be a character builder to endure the heat in suit and jacket, but it doesn’t seem to translate into tolerance for variances in indoor room temperatures where a difference in 2-3 degrees can cause window-wars.

  19. The challenge is to find/invent a (shaatnez-free!) fabric for standard yeshivish hats that looks and takes a shape like black felt but feels much cooler on hot days. Some BT or combination of BTs might find the solution and open up a huge new business opportunity.

  20. I also follow Steve and Ron.
    For about 3 summers (prior to getting married) I wore a cream straw hat (with a black band around it), but when we got married, I gave it up for Shalom Bayis reasons. :)

    I’ve thought about the black straw option, but I didn’t spend enough time in Chofetz Chaim. :)

  21. Everyone can make his own judgment on the right headgear to wear out in his neighborhood and inside his shul and home.

    People living in communities with fixed ideas about dress (or any minhag or chumra, for that matter) often decide to conform for social reasons, which is totally understandable. I don’t think BT’s would catch any more flak for nonconformity than an FFB would for the same “offense”.

    People with a choice in the matter should choose a community whose mores are compatible with their own aspirations.

  22. For my Bar Mitzvah, I was a man of two hats: a blue hat for the week, and a black one for Shabbos(no gray hat). An elderly neighbor, a graduate of Mir in Europe, kidded my father, that he was responsible for my weekday sartorial choice. With a twinkle in his eye, my father asked him what color hat he wore in Mir.

    In this vein, this is a link to Dr. Yitzchak Levine’s website showing the then contemporary European yeshivish fashions. In American yeshivishe circles as well, fashions have changed over the years.

    Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein commented regarding the above-linked pictures(Cross Currents, “Gedolim Cards: The Uncensored Set”, 3/24/06):

    “The set will serve as a Rorschach test of attitudes towards change within the yeshiva world. Depending on their own leanings, some people will bemoan the increased uniformity and regimentation of later times. Some will see the intrusion into the Lithuanian orbit of Chassidic modes of thought, with its greater emphasis on demonstrable separateness. Others will see the opposite: a healthy decision to oppose the openness of more Westernized societies with a conscious decision to circle the wagons and protect what is inside.

    Whatever your orientation, these pictures are a delight, and may very well change your view of life in the “holier” days of old…”

  23. I’ve given up on my straw hat — can’t find one that isn’t just silly-small on my head compared to the look of my usual felt fedora. So bottom line, Steve, I’m pretty much in the same boat and agree with your comments 100%.

  24. I used to wear a straw hat on Shabbos between Memorial Day and Labor Day ( the unofficial staw hat and summer season), but more often than not, the hat did not survive a summer storm, and I felt more comfortable in a regular black felt on those special days as time progressed. FWIW, wearing a hat on Shabbos and for davening as well as at Simchos and other special occasions is not just a sociological statement, but has definite mkoros in Shas and Poskim as well.

  25. Do you feel the benefits of being part of a community by adopting their standard dress brings great benefits?

    Do you think it’s more or less important for BTs to conform to communal dress codes?

    The answer to both questions depends on the community and the BT.

  26. I don’t like it when the community goes beyond the halachic and hashkafic requirements of tznius to forbid certain additional things. For example, my youngest daughter’s school would not let them wear dangling earrings; they also were not allowed to wear their hair down past their shoulders, but had to tie it into a ponytail. We’re talking now about girls who already are conforming to a strict dress code: tzniusdig uniforms, which meant past-knee plaid skirts, button-down thick blouses, stockings and closed-toe shoes. I frankly felt it was wrong for the school to forbid long hair and dangling earrings on top of everything else required, but I went along with the school’s rules because I felt that parents and school shouldn’t battle over a dress code but be a united front.

    I wish that bright colors were more acceptable for women. When I go to a fancy dinner or a simcha, all the ladies are wearing black (including myself). I don’t understand why the color Red is asur; I think that a high-necked long-sleeved crimson dress can be quite flattering and not at all brazen or immodest.

    I also wish that funkier, crazier shoes were more acceptable for frum women. I’d like guidance as to how much open a shoe can be and not be deemed forbidden. Everyone understands about necklines and sleeve lengths past the elbow and skirt lengths past the knee. I’m very unsure about the rules about showing toes and ankles and parts of the foot. Well, the exposed foot is not Ervah, so exactly how covering does the shoe have to be, all over like an Army boot, or can some bare skin peep out?

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