The Red Hat Society

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Red Hat Patch

The Red Hat Society celebrates fun aging with custom patches and pins!

The headquarters of the Red Hat Society has been ordering lapel pins from The Monterey Company for a year now. This national group is made up of women over 50 who wear signature red fedora hats and purple outfits that simply draw attention for their tackiness. When asked, “What do you do?” they reply, “Our main responsibility is to have fun!”


The Red Hat Society is made up of those women who have shouldered responsibilities at home and in the community their entire lives. For a little while, when they don their red fedoras and go to tea parties, they say good-bye to burdensome responsibilities.

There are no rules, only that the society is made up of women over 50 who attend functions in full regalia–red fedoras and purple outfits. “This adds an element of fun to aging, which is invaluable to women in our society who have learned to dread aging. We believe that aging should be anticipated with excitement,” states the society’s website.

It all started when Sue Ellen Cooper bought a red fedora hat at a thrift shop because she thought it was dashing and inexpensive. A year or two later, she read the poem, “Warning,” by Jenny Joseph. Here are a few lines:

“When I am an old woman, I shall wear purpleRed Lapel Pins
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.”

Sue Ellen wholeheartedly related to that poem and decided that a birthday gift to her friend would be a vintage red hat and a copy of it. Her friend had always enjoyed whimsical decorating ideas, she thought. She imagined her putting the hat next to the framed poem. Her friend was so delighted and touched by the gift that Sue Ellen gave the gift to other friends. Soon, there were 18 of them. That was in 1998.

Today, Sue Ellen’s fondest hope is that the Red Hat Societies will proliferate far and wide.

This year, The Monterey Company had designed an embroidered emblem celebrating their 10th anniversary and “Red Hat Society Day,” or April 25, 2008. The 2.5 inch by the 4-inch square patch is trimmed in purple with a red banner across the bottom.

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