Women wearing flamboyant red hats and deep purple clothing
thrive on having a good time and dismissing any negative thoughts
thrown their way.
“It’s really all about fun and not caring what other people
think,” said Nancy Wear, a red hatter from the Smashing Cranberries
chapter. “Something like wealth and stature doesn’t matter because
everyone is the same in this group.”
The Red Hat Society is composed of women, mostly over the age of
50, who just want to have fun. There are no rules except that at
all meetings members must wear a red hat and purple clothing.
The Red Hat Society is inspired by the poem “Warning” by Jenny
Joseph. The poem suggests a power to women as they age if they wear
purple and a red hat that “doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me,”
according to the poem.
Members under the age of 50 can still participate by wearing a
pink hat and lavender clothing.
Wear, 58, and other members of the Loveland chapter of the Red
Hat Society, mostly composed of educators, meet once a month to
“have fun.” The activities range from bowling to dinner, Wear
“Since we’ve all moved away it’s a way to keep connected and get
back together,” said Sandy Butler, another member of Smashing
Butler, 54, is also the director of Project Promise at CSU.
Project Promise helps give outgoing professionals a chance to make
a career through the education system by preparing them to be
“We want to be outrageous,” Butler said. “We’re going to have
Winnette Reck Payne, 80, founded the Les Rouges Chapeaux chapter
in February 2002.
“My niece lives in Washington and she sent me a newspaper
clipping about the Red Hat Society because I always wear a hat,”
Payne said. “I got on the Web site and we didn’t have a chapter in
Fort Collins so I sent in my $35.”
The Red Hat Society costs chapters $35 to join and $35 every
year after that.
At the first meeting at Olive Garden, 62 women showed up, Payne
said. Les Rouges Chapeaux has grown into more than 200 women.
“There is no official list since there are no official rules,”
Payne said. “Not everyone comes to every meeting but we tell each
and every one about them. It just keeps growing.”
Payne doesn’t like turning anyone away since the goal is to have
“I think there is a real need for kicking off your shoes and
having a good time,” Payne said. “I’m glad to be alive and
Sue Ellen Cooper, 59, started the Red Hat Society in 1998. Her
chapter has grown to 23 members and it still has their monthly
meetings. The society didn’t begin adding other chapters until July
“It’s an extremely gratifying feeling,” Cooper said. “It’s
really spread into a sisterhood and I’m glad to be a part of
Cooper now devotes all her time to the main office in Fullerton,
Calif. There are about 29 people working in the office, mostly red
and pink hatters but some men too.
“We are not anti-men,” Cooper said. “We are just pro-women.”
According to Cooper, the office fields hundreds of calls a day
and thousands of e-mails.
“We don’t want anyone to go unheard,” Cooper said. “But it takes
a lot of women power.”
The Red Hat Society has thousands of chapters across the United
States and chapters in other parts of the world, including the
United Kingdom and Australia according to
Cooper said the Red Hat Society is accepting members of many
different ages. Some women who have lost their mothers find
condolence by finding a “surrogate mother” through the group,
“It’s more about women than age,” Cooper said. “It’s not
surprising to have women in their 40s or 30s. Our oldest member is