Dear Barb – Red Hat Society

Dear Barb: I look forward to reading your columns. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about a group called the “Red Hat Society.” I’ve seen pictures in the local newspaper of women who are all wearing red hats. These women appear to be having a lot of fun. I think it is some sort of women’s group. Can you tell me a little more about this group and how one goes about joining? What exactly do these women do when they get together?

Carol in Leamington

Hi Carol. Coincidentally I have a friend who belongs to the Red Hat Society and she just loves it. Before she joined I had no knowledge of this organization. Your question prompted me to do some further research.

The Red Hat Society was started in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper of Fullerton, California. The inspiration for the Red Hat Society was a poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. The first lines of the poem are:

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

The sole aim of this group is social. The social group decided to take on middle age with zest and humour. There are no rules, no initiation rituals, and it does not involve fund-raising activities. The group offers social interactions for women aged 50 and up. However, you can join if you are under 50, but you have to wear a pink hat at meetings until you reach your 50th birthday.

This popular group boasts one million members worldwide. Explore the web site located at for more information on the society, joining a chapter in your area, or even starting your own chapter.

There are no societal rules, but there is a protocol to follow. For example, the founder of each chapter is referred to as the Queen Mom, full members are called Red Hatters and members who are under 50 are referred to as Pink Hatters.

The Red Hatters generally meet once a month to attend a special outing, which could be anything from dinner, to movies, to shopping trips, but their favorite activity is hosting a tea party. The activities vary and are unique to each chapter. The goal of the Red Hat Society is to have fun. As you may have noticed, most members decorate their hats with various eye-catching ornaments and often dress in purple.

The Red Hat Society publishes a bi-monthly magazine entitled, Red Hat Society LifeStyle. The society has published two books Red Hat Society’s Laugh Lines: Stories of Inspiration and Hattitude (Cooper, 2005) and Red Hat Society: Fun and Friendship After Fifty (Cooper, 2004).

Hope this helps Carol. It sounds like the Red Hatters are a lot of fun.

Cooper, S.E. (2004). Red Hat Society: Fun and Friendship After Fifty. Warner Books.
Cooper, S.E. (2005). Red Hat Society’s Laugh Lines: Stories of Inspiration and Hattitude. Warner Books.
Joseph, J. Warning. Retrieved June 27, 2005, from

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.