Started in 1997, in America, the Red Hat Society (RHS) is social club for women to get together with others, for fun and friendship. It is non-religious, not based around charities or fundraising – it is just about having fun with friends.
While most people know of the RHS as being a group for women over 50 years of age (“Red Hatters”), women under 50 are also welcome to join and are called “Pink hatters” (or “Pinkies”). While it seems the main focus of the RHS is on women over 50, the “Pinkies” are certainly able to join in and have fun too!
Older women often feel neglected and invisible in society, and younger women often fear getting older. The RHS helps provide social activities and friendships for women, as well as showing the world that older women are out there having fun!
Being an International society, members come from all around the world and join local “chapters”. These chapters do the majority of their socialising within their own chapter, however chapters sometimes get together for larger social gatherings and “conventions”.
The Red Hat Society is based around the following lines from a poem called the Warning by Jenny Joseph:
“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”
The poem talks about the things to do when you get old that you’re not supposed to do – spend your pension money on brandy and satin sandals, to eat samples in shops and press alarm bells. To wear bright colours that clash. Basically not to hide away, but to enjoy life. So that is what the Red Hat Society is all about – having fun and not “acting your age”.
The Red Hat Society dresscode is taken from the Warning poem. Women over 50 are to wear purple clothing and a red hat. Younger women who are not yet “old” enough to wear the red hat, instead wear lavender and a pink hat. The exception to this is on your birth month, and the month of the birth of the society (April), where you may reverse the colours, so you would wear a purple or lavender hat with red or pink clothes.
What exactly you wear, however, is up to you. The colours are the “uniform” but the actual clothing is whatever you want it to be. Feel free to express your creativity and personal style!
What we do
Anything. Get together for morning tea, lunch or dinner. Picnics in the park. Shopping trips. Sewing or baking days. 10 pin bowling or museum visits. Bingo or bungee jumping. The possibilities are endless. The aim of the Society is to have fun, and however the members and chapters choose to have fun is completely up to them. There are some large conventions/gatherings where women from around the state/country/world can get together, some are smaller events where just a handful of people get together.
The RHS is for women, so males (husbands/partners) and children are not generally invited to attend any gatherings. This is our time of sisterhood and a place to do something for us.
Chapters, Queens and silly names
“Chapters are the smaller groups that make up the society. Usually local groups of women from the Society who get together regularly.
The leader of the chapter is called a “Queen” and she usually has a “Vice Queen” – as the Queen is often the founding member or figurehead of the chapter, but is not expected to be in charge of running everything (Good Queens delegate!). The Queen role can be passed on to another member if the Queen wishes to step down. Other chapter members are allowed to take on a royal title or a RHS name for themselves, as a bit of fun.
Perhaps you’d like to be “Dame Doughnuts”, “Countess Catlover”, “Princess Pam the petulant” , “Duchess Dana of the Dainty Feet”, “Baroness Von Blab a Lot” , Viscountess Vicki the Vixen” .
It is possible to belong to more than one chapter, so even if you join “Millinery Madames”, you are welcome to join any other chapters you wish to.
To find a chapter, you can search on the RHS webpage or look for chapters close to you from the listings on the Red Hats Victoria website (www.redhatsvictoria.com) or the Matilda Rose website (http://www.matildarose2.com/contactinggroups.htm).