Wearing the American flag on the Fourth of July: A sartorial guide

Happy Independence Day! Here's how to show your patriotic streak by gracefully incorporating Old Glory into your wardrobe.

Photograph: R.J. Lerich/Shutterstock

Welcome proud, if sartorially confused patriot, to our totally arbitrary, but extremely important, yes/no guide to wearing American-flag prints on the Fourth of July. Sure, you could stick with throwing on a blue tee, brilliant white sneakers and red trousers to show how much you love your country's gift of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of a boozy cookout every July 4th. But perhaps you want to go further? We're here to help.

Below, you'll find an easy-to-use list of what's acceptable and what isn't. Considering something that we haven't included? Drop it in the comments, and we'll reply with our ruling. Ignored our advice and wore something we warned you against? Show us how well you rocked it on Twitter using the hashtag #IignoredTimeOutNewYorksadviceandnowIlooklikeafoolsorryTONYIwillneverdoubtyouagain.

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Bandannas: No
Unless you're Hulk Hogan, you're the guy in the photo above. A thousand times no.

Socks: No
Are you a father? Did you receive American-flag socks for your birthday/wedding anniversary/Father's Day? Was the giver your spawn who is begrudgingly attending your Fourth of July barbecue instead of getting smashed with their friends at the party of the year? If you've answered yes to all of these questions, we also say yes to you: That ungrateful little shit deserves the added humiliation of their daddy-o rocking the American-flag-socks-and-sandals combo while air-guitaring to Bruce Springsteen. Everyone else, no.

Chuck Taylors: Yes
A classic move. Always.

Beer cozy: No
Putting aside our hatred of the very idea of cozies—the act of adding and removing the can from the cozy cuts down on drinking time, and it's that kind of sobering effect that stops this country from producing its very best ideas. Would we have invented* the deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey if the entire nation drank out of cozies?—ask yourself: Why do I need a cozy draped in Old Glory when it's already on my beer can? Your beer can doesn't have the Stars and Stripes on it, you say? Consider changing the beer you're drinking or moving to Moscow.

* We don't know if we invented this, but it's awesome, so we're claiming it.

A flag pin: No
Not unless you deliberately pierce your breast to categorically prove you bleed red, white and blue.

Baseball cap: Yes
America is the only nation in the world that can wear this headgear and look good. Have you ever seen a European wear one of these? It's embarrassing—on par with watching them attempt a high five.

Bowler hat: Yes
Bastardizing an English gentleman's wardrobe staple? Hell to the yeah. Best deployed in front of a redcoat while acting out the "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch and proclaiming in your best English accent how you really get Monty Python.

Cape: Yes
But if only if you are continuously running or standing in a breezy spot. It must billow at all times.

Captain America shield: Yes
Especially if you use it to serve others (we're thinking a cocktail tray or makeshift umbrella if a storm blows in), displaying the inherent goodness of the American character.

All of the above: Yes
Your forebears declared independence from the tyranny of Mad King George. You should break with the ill-advised clothing advice of this posh English writer. Let fashion freedom ring! Happy Independence Day, y'all.

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)