The Preux Chevalier—a knight, a brave gentleman. This is not to be confused with the Cheviot, which is a breed of hornless sheep. One must get that correct right off because a sheep is an animal and therefore has no code: act like a Cheviot, and you will certainly fail to be a Chevalier.
Now, the writings of Immanuel Kant are not perhaps the first thing that springs to mind in the way of spending an idle hour (I would rather read Von Hildebrand had I to pick a philosopher), nor does he spring to mind as an authority on the various species of hornless sheep, but the old chap brilliantly captures an important facet of playing the gentleman:
“Men are, one and all, actors—the more so the more civilized they are. They put on a show of affection, respect for others, modesty and disinterest without deceiving anyone, since it is generally understood that they are not sincere about it.
“And it is a very good thing that this happens in the world. For if men keep on playing these roles, the real virtues whose semblance they have merely been affecting for a long time are gradually aroused and pass into their attitude of will.”
In a word, this role-playing greases the cogs of society in much the same way that a modicum of alcohol stimulates conversation in social situations.
A good example of this “acting” occurs when doing a kindness for someone—it’s all well and good to be self-less, but if done with a grudging tone, furrowed brows, insolence, anger, pride or snootiness (yes, snootiness), all we end up doing is insulting the poor fish we’re endeavoring to assist. It is true what they say in Annie: “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” This can be tough of course if you’re not feeling like smiling—well, dash feelings: smile anyway. Here, practice while reading these few tips on hat etiquette. If we’re bucking up the gentlemanly appearance with a hat we may as well act as well as we look:
1) Never tip/lift your hat to a man. To a woman yes. Tipping your hat to a guy is like calling him a woman. So only do this if a) the guy is a friend who will take the joke in the right vein, and b) you are way bigger than the guy you're insulting, and you know he's not packing a weapon of any sort.
2) Only tip/lift your hat to people you do not know. For female friends, remove your hat, but if you start walking together put it back on. If she's your wife, tip/lift your hat and give her a smooch.
3) Remove your hat indoors. There are some rather complex combinations of hat removing and doffing for indoors, but in our day and age I feel safe in saying it's best just to remove it indoors, period.
4) When the national anthem is played or the American Flag is passing in a parade, take your hat off.
5) Otherwise, keep your hat on, and you will look the proverbial preux chevalier.