“May I take your jacket?” This is a phrase most of us have heard upon entering the location of a formal gathering or dinner party. Even most family homes have an entryway coat rack. But is it rude to wear a coat or a jacket indoors?
In general, it’s considered rude to wear a jacket or coat indoors. Doing so can make it seem as though you’re in a rush to leave or simply not fully engaged or enjoying the company of those around you.
Let’s look at some of the reasons you may or may not want to use that time-tested coat rack in the foyer, because as always, there are some exceptions.
How to Know Whether You Can Wear Your Coat Indoors
It might seem difficult to make your coat fit the occasion. We’ll go through the different scenarios you might want to, or not want to, wear your coat or jacket indoors.
1. What’s The Occasion?
As you can probably imagine, a family dinner looks a lot different than a cocktail party or wedding. Most of your family members have seen you at your worst and, depending, probably don’t care too much about the way you’re dressed.
As long as you’re comfortable and everyone’s okay with it, go ahead and keep the jacket on.
Some occasions actually call for a jacket to be worn throughout the event, such as a black tie party. In this case, removing your jacket would appear too casual and laid-back for the setting. In most business settings, especially when a meeting or deal is being executed, a full suit with a jacket will be worn the entire time.
To keep things simple, let’s put it this way: Unless you’re absolutely certain that the person or people’s company you’ll be enjoying won’t be offended by your attire, do the right thing and remove your coat upon entering.
There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, you’ll be more respectful by removing it than not.
2. Would Removing It Make Your Outfit Inappropriate For The Occasion?
Let’s say you’re on your way to an important meeting. You’re in a mad rush when suddenly you spill coffee all over your only clean dress shirt. With the clock ticking and your back firmly against the wall, you decide to do the unthinkable.
You leave that morning in a T-shirt tucked into some convincingly-formal slacks, and your fall coat. The meeting takes place indoors. Do you remove the coat?
The answer is clearly no. If you’re in this bad a spot, you’re much better off telling a little white lie. Just tell your colleague that you run cold if you’re brave.
In all seriousness, you should do everything you can to prepare for a comfortable day, even if you have to shed a layer at some point. If you think you’ll be cold, plan ahead and look for a wool or flannel shirt to wear beneath a coat or jacket.
3. What’s The Weather Like?
In some parts of the United States, such as Alaska or Minnesota, coats and jackets are often seen worn both indoors and outdoors. In places where the weather is constantly harsh, it usually isn’t considered rude to keep one’s jacket on inside.
In the Pacific Northwest, for example, the main problem is rain. It is not uncommon to see people with puffer jackets and windbreakers in stores, schools, and workplaces.
However, oftentimes when entering a friend’s house from the rain, it’s common to shed the jacket to hang at the entryway. It’s out of respect for the host so that I won’t track in any dirt and debris from the stirring rain.
Even if this generally applies to you, it’s still a good idea to remember where you’ll be and who you’ll be meeting with. Read the room and try to get a gauge in case you’re still not sure.
4. What Are You Actually Doing Indoors?
Let’s face it: no one likes a sweaty dancer. If you’ll be in a situation where you need to hustle and bustle, wearing a jacket indoors might not be for you. Even the lightest of materials can sometimes be cumbersome when the heat produced by movement is involved.
Before you indulge with this evening’s company, make sure and shed a layer in order to avoid rapid dehydration, or wear a jacket that is breathable enough for a night of merrymaking.
Aside from temperature, think about what position your body will be in for a majority of the time. Will you be standing or sitting? Eating or drinking? Make sure that whichever jacket you wear allows you to bend freely and sit comfortably. If it doesn’t, it might not be suitable to wear indoors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a couple of FAQs to really round things off.
Can You Wear A Trench Coat Indoors?
A relatively short trench coat can be worn indoors if it’s made from a light, flowy material as it can actually complement a business-casual look. In contrast, long and bulky trench coats can often look awkward, out of place, and inappropriate for room temperature.
So, you have to consider the trench coat in question. If the coat is made of a light, flowy material and is generally suitable for warmer environments, it could work very well for a business or business-casual aesthetic.
Shorter-cut trenches are great for sitting, in case one would like to wear one to work. Paired with the right accessories, it could tie together for a sleek, comfortable fall outfit.
Avoid long or bulky trench coats, as they keep your body a little too warm indoors if the place is heated well.
Can You Wear A Denim Jacket Indoors?
A denim jacket can easily be worn indoors as it’s a staple of the smart-casual aesthetic. It pairs well with other smart-casual items and rarely looks awkward when worn indoors, particularly during the cooler months.
There are many ways you can appropriately wear a denim jacket indoors. A common favorite is with a white tee, tan chinos, and either white or cream-colored sneakers. Another way is with a black tee, black fitted jeans, and white shoes.
If you’re going for something completely different, mix it up with a tie dye tee and some faded denim jeans. A headband is a nice touch, too.
The best aspect about denim is that it’s suitable for most climates. Whether the building you’re in is air conditioned or heated, you’ll be comfortable in either environment. Denim truly is an all-year-round material.
Can You Wear A Leather Jacket Indoors?
In general, a leather jacket should not be worn indoors as they often look awkward and out of place, even ones that are lightweight. In addition, they would never be a suitable replacement for a blazer in more formal environments.
There are, however, a few tricks you could use if you were intent on doing it. While you’d be hard-pressed trying to make a leather jacket seem formal, there are some ways you can wear it to “tone down the punk,” so to speak.
Wear your jacket with a long tan or black scarf. Coupled with a white V-neck and black jeans, you’ll be set to go with a classic leather jacket look with some added comfort. This way, the layer to remove would much more be the scarf than the jacket.
Should You Take Your Coat Off At Dinner?
Coats and jackets should be removed at dinner because not doing so could indicate to other members of the table that you’re not fully engaged with the meal. In addition, spillage and mess at the table could potentially ruin an expensive coat or jacket.
As much as we’d like to believe we’re not messy eaters, mistakes do happen. The most obvious reason you wouldn’t want to wear a jacket while eating is that you could potentially ruin it, given the right sauce or color. Some stains are very hard to lift, let alone completely remove.
Another reason is freedom of movement. Wouldn’t you rather not strain your shoulders, neck and arms? Wearing a jacket to the dinner table can be incredibly restrictive and stuffy.
If you’re going to be sitting down and eating a meal, you’ll be better off just removing your jacket beforehand.
While style is often at the top of the list of things to consider when planning an outfit, nothing is more paramount than continued comfort.
No matter what you’ll be doing in there, just make sure you’ve thoroughly considered each layer you have on. Just be prepared to lose one.