Hats off to turning 50

For some women, middle age is accompanied by fears of the dreaded ‘downhill’ mindset. But for a certain group of red-hatted ladies, it’s a time of life that is feted and celebrated.

The Red Hat Society began when Sue Ellen Cooper was visiting a friend in Tucson, Arizona and impulsively bought a rather bright red fedora for no particular reason other than it was a good deal.

A while later, she happened to read a poem entitled Warning by Jenny Joseph, which illustrates a woman in purple clothing wearing a red hat. Sue Ellen felt an immediate connection to the story and decided that for a dear friend’s birthday, she would give her the poem and a bright red vintage hat. Because of the wonderful feedback from her friend, she decided to continue giving this gift to other friends.

It occurred to these close knit group of friends that they were becoming a type of ‘Red Hat Society’ and that maybe they should go out for tea ‘in full regalia,’ purple dresses and all. The response was entirely positive, so the group decided to each bring a few friends to the next meeting and soon they were a group of 18. One of the members passed along the idea to a close friend in Florida, thus forming their first ‘sibling’ group.

So what does this ‘Red Hat Society’ do exactly?
According to the Red Hat Society website, the answer is quite simple: to spread joy and companionship. They are mothers and grandmothers who were little girls once, who grew up but are not too old to play dress up.

Members gather for tea parties and other social events – and to forget, at least for an evening, the burden of home and work responsibilities. The refrain often said by these carefree ladies is a song by Mike Harline, ‘All my life, I’ve done for you. Now it’s my turn to do for me.’

The society even goes as far to call itself a ‘dis-organization,’ due to a distinct lack of obligations and bylaws. This is not to say the organization is without a mission. According to its website, Red Hat ladies seek “to gain higher visibility for women in our age group, to reshape the way we are viewed by today’s culture and the way we, ourselves, view aging.”

Feisty at 50
To join you must be a woman who is 50 and over – or you may be a Pink Hatter under 50 – and you MUST attend functions in full regalia. Red hat, purple outfit for woman over 50 and pink hat, lavender outfit for women under 50. One request made by the Red Hat Society is that women not wear purple and red until she reaches ‘THE BIRTHDAY’.

Start your own chapter
Women are encouraged to start their own chapters and are given a ‘Red-gloved hand invitation.’ You must register with Headquarters and will then be sent a New Queen Membership Kit to get started. As ‘Queen’ you will be sent a complimentary ‘Purple Perks’ membership when you enroll your chapter. Cost is $39 per year.

To find a chapter in your area visit redhatsociety.com

Photo credit: Kevin Farrington

Elegant afternoon tea
Resolutions to keep friendships warm
A round-heeled woman