Red Hat Society Day

posted on 4/25/13

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.

– Jenny Joseph “Warning”

Photo by Lori Goldberg

Photo by Lori Goldberg

In 1997, Ellen Cooper, an artist based in Orange County, California in celebration of her friend’s 55th birthday presented her with a red bowler hat from an antique store along with the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. Cooper’s friends requested this same gift for themselves leading several women going a step further, purchasing purple outfits to go with the hat and holding social functions dressed as such in purple and red, the first being a tea party held on April 25, 1998.

The Red Hat Society has grown into a social organization in excess of 40,000 chapters in over 30 countries including Trinidad, South Africa, Taiwan, Mexico, Luxemburg, Australia, and beyond. The Red Hat Society (RHS) goes by different names, in England for instance they are the Red Hatters. Originally for women aged 50 and older, the RHS has opened their admissions to women of any age, but those under the age of 50 are required to wear to a pink hat and lavender (they are referred to as Pink Hatters) until their 50th birthday when they may become full fledged Red Hatters, Attention-getting accessories are staple of the group, include decorated hats and feather boas.

The society grew from word of mouth until gaining publicity from Newspapers and the magazine Romantic Homes in 2000. The purpose of the RHS is to foster interaction and bonding between women. The founding member or appointed leader of a chapter is known as “Queen”, while Ellen Cooper the original founder is referred to as “Exalted Queen Mother” operating from the “Hatquarters” in Orange County. Entrance entails either founding a chapter and becoming queen or one pays their membership fees and they become a supporting member. In April, the founding month of the Society, members may reverse their colors, e.i: a purple hat with red outfit.

The events the RHS stage are chosen within each individual chapter autonomously, the tea party tending to be the default function for most chapters. Other popular outings include games, theater, crafts, and music (singing and kazoos)

Media Produced By RHS
Hats! The Musical (based on writings by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and Anthony Dodge)

Designer Scrapbooks the Red Hat Society Way
Red Hat Society: Fun and Friendship after Fifty
Red Hat Society’s Laugh Lines: Stories of Inspiration and Hattitude
Red Hats and the Women Who Wear Them
Sassy, Classy, and Still Sparkling
The Red Hat Society Cookbook
Eat Dessert First

To join, learn more, or browse stories and experiences please visit

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One thought on “Red Hat Society Day
  1. MaryLu's

    Oh, what a lovely Red Hat Society members. I should say that Red Hat Society is not just an organization. The members of it are mothers, grandmothers and daughters of society. Lovely song by RHS members! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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