Country Life isn't a magazine I read much. Because I use an NHS dentist, the waiting rooms I frequent don't tend to be stocked with back copies of it, but there are other reasons. Not being in the market for a £3 million Hampshire country house is one. Not caring much about pubs that have menus for dogs is another. I don't own a horse or a quilted jacket and nor do I shoot or fish. I do hunt, but the quarry is always either my slippers or the TV remote. Oh, and I live in the city, so even the magazine's title is inappropriate.

I did, however, pay attention to a recent editorial in Country Life on the subject of men and hats. In it, the magazine tried to trace the decline in manners to the fact that fewer and fewer men wear hats these days. More hats would result in more courtesy towards others, it opined, and confer a certain dignity on the wearer, not to say an extra couple of inches in height. “Raised for a lady, removed in church or for a national anthem, hats facilitate the expression of courtesy and respect,” went the argument.

Of course it has to be the right sort of hat, as the editorial made very clear. A bowler is fine as long as you're possessed of what the magazine calls “preternatural elan” (not quite sure what that is, but I think they sell it in Waitrose) and it goes without saying that any sort of military cap gets royal salute.

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But you won't be surprised to learn that baseball caps are a no-no, even when doffed for a lady/Minister/national anthem: “We live in a postmodern age in which irony is the prevailing theme, as exampled by the deplorable baseball cap”.

In a homburg, on the other hand, “you cannot be ironic” apparently. Huh? I understand the bit about hats and manners and the link between the two, even if I don't agree with the magazine's cause and effect argument. But throwing irony into the mix leaves me scratching my (bare) head. How do you wear a hat ironically? Is it the hat itself that's ironic or the way in which it's worn? Perhaps it's the person wearing it who confers irony upon it, like a stripper in a burlesque show wearing a bishop's mitre when he/she isn't really a bishop. Would a baseball cap stop being ironic if it was keeping the sun off the wearer's face or if they had just hit a home run in the World Series?

And here's another thought: is the homburg the only hat that acts like milliner's Kryptonite on irony, or do the tricorne, the fedora, the boater and the Glengarry bonnet have the same effect?

Until someone develops an Ironic-o-meter for gentlemen's headgear I'm going to have trust to my own intuition. Or forgo hats altogether, which will leave me open to the accusation that I'm not doing my bit to reverse the decline in manners. Or - the nuclear option - start reading Country Life for more on this matter.