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May 11, 2004 2:53 PM   Subscribe

The Red Hat Society With an inspired purchase of a red fedora and a reading of the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph, one woman created what is fast becoming a movement around the world for women over fifty.
posted by FunkyHelix (41 comments total)
Hey... I think I recognize her... yeah that's the bitch that stole the Eiffel Tower! Quickly, cue Rockapella and while we decipher her trail of geography-related clues!
posted by Stan Chin at 3:02 PM on May 11, 2004

Heh. Yes, but Carmen wore all red. They just wear the red hat. The rest of the outfit is purple.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:07 PM on May 11, 2004

Damnit Stan Chin, you stole my joke! Now I'll have to say something lame about some Linux distribution.
posted by Capn at 3:08 PM on May 11, 2004

I've seen this before. Yeah, it's cute and all, but what I don't get is why they're waiting until middle age. Practicing early is hinted at in the poem that inspired the movement, but why wait until one is old to wear purple? Start now, damnit!
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:19 PM on May 11, 2004

I know these women. They infest my hotel from time to time. They wear nightgowns in the lobby and put red brassieres on the statues. Ghastly women.
posted by ColdChef at 3:26 PM on May 11, 2004

Good lord they're everywhere. Crestwood Mall. Missouri Botanical Garden. It's a big cackling hen party of the post menopausal Oprah set.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:29 PM on May 11, 2004

Linux nerds and women over fifty. Hey, it might work out.
posted by skallas at 3:33 PM on May 11, 2004

When I am an old man, I'm going to train my dog to attack anything that wears purple.
God. I hate that poem.
posted by seanyboy at 3:34 PM on May 11, 2004

Hmm. Perhaps I should look for a strap on so I'll feel more at home. Sheesh.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:45 PM on May 11, 2004

FunkyHelix, I'm a girl too. I'd rather grow up to be Renee Russo when I turn 50 than a member of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:51 PM on May 11, 2004

Wow. The venom.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:59 PM on May 11, 2004

Nah, FH, I like this. Women of the age group that was still raised to be quiet and humble, kicking up their heels a bit. I think it's cool.
posted by vignettist at 4:06 PM on May 11, 2004

Did someone just use the words "Renee Russo" and "grow up" in the same sentence?

Or are you using "grow up" in some special sense that means "undergo kajillions of plastic surgeries in a vain attempt to cling to a simulacrum of youthful 'beauty' as prescribed by others, nonetheless turning into a sad spectacle of wannabe celebrity who would wear an evening gown to the opening of an envelope?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:42 PM on May 11, 2004

"Look at us! Look at us! We're still young and vibrant and quirky! We're all individualists in exactly the same way!"

Don't get me started on balding fat guys who drive Corvettes, either. Or anyone who drives a Corvette for that matter.
posted by keswick at 4:57 PM on May 11, 2004

nmap -A redhatsociety.com ...

Sadly, the their web server is running some version of windows and not redhat linux.
posted by nasim at 5:01 PM on May 11, 2004

I saw a group of these women out the other day. They sure looked like they were having fun. Good for them. Anything that you enjoy that brings you out to meet some other folks is great. As you age, these opportunities often diminish. Hooray for the Red Hats. (Their outfits do look a little silly, but isn't that sort of the point?)
posted by caddis at 5:17 PM on May 11, 2004

It's like an HRT powered restaurant franchise.

In America you purchase your rebelion.
posted by Blue Stone at 6:09 PM on May 11, 2004

I refuse to believe that my only two choices of attitude at 50 will be:

"Desperately cling to an appearance of youth" (Jane Fonda, et al.)


"Reinvent myself as a wacky, lovable crone" (Red Hat Society, et al.)

Right now, "holing up in an abandoned warehouse with some AK-47s" seems more appealing than either of those options.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:10 PM on May 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

These ladies go into a restaurant in L.A. that I used to work at. They were nice.
posted by bingo at 6:13 PM on May 11, 2004

Ha--I saw a bunch of Red Hatters at an Elmer's in Portland, OR. Don't ask me what I was doing at Elmer's.
posted by josephtate at 7:13 PM on May 11, 2004

What were you doing at Elmer's?

posted by keswick at 7:59 PM on May 11, 2004

Well biologically speaking once you pass menopause there is an increase in testosterone and a decrease in estrogen (because the grandmother needs the added strength to help provide for the grandchildren), in fact many post-menopause women have more testosterone and less estrogen as men of similar age. So perhaps there is a large class of women with all this extra energy and spunk and no place to direct it so they form clubs with activities and bonding rituals, it fulfills a need in their lives while the rest of us look on and scratch our heads.
posted by stbalbach at 8:24 PM on May 11, 2004

I can't wait until the bald guys in Corvettes start running these red-hatted supervillians down. When does the game come out?
posted by bargle at 8:30 PM on May 11, 2004

I, frankly, love my hats...although none of them are red...I stick to black. I adore huge, over the top, millinery collections of doom that nobody but me and possibly a mourning Carmen Miranda would possibly be seen in.

I adore them. I collect them, I wear them, I think everyone should have at least one really strange hat. And matching gloves. (White cat and monocle are optional.)

My point is this, I'm odd. I know I'm odd. I'm good with odd. I don't try to be odd, it just comes naturally, and I've decided to not fight it.

Some ladies have never learned to embrace the crazy woman within. They've lived their lives according to the rules they were taught, they've stayed within the sad confines of the world they created for themselves.

If this little fashion phenomenon helps them break out of the mold, and into themselves, well...more power to them.

Besides, it could be worse...it could be Mary Kay pink...and lord knows that nobody wants that.

(ColdChef, I'll trade you a hotel full of the redhats for a hotel full of the pink nazis any day...any day. I still bear the scars of Mary Kay conventioneers from a decade ago...*shudder*)
posted by dejah420 at 8:55 PM on May 11, 2004

posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 PM on May 11, 2004

i hope women in my generation(*) aren't so screwed up that that have to wait til 50 to enjoy themselves. i mean, all power to them for enjoying life now, but what a fucked-up society it must be if you need a book and silly hat to teach you that you can do what you want (dunno, maybe it's just me, but putting bras on statues still seems rather forced, doesn't it? after 50 years of doing what you feel you should, maybe it's difficult to know what you do want? please don't let laughing at bras be the greatest thing people at that age can aspire to...)
(*) which isn't that much younger :o(
posted by andrew cooke at 8:38 AM on May 12, 2004

(ColdChef, I'll trade you a hotel full of the redhats for a hotel full of the pink nazis any day...any day. I still bear the scars of Mary Kay conventioneers from a decade ago...*shudder*)

Heh. I'm trying to imagine a parking lot full of pink Caddies.
posted by ColdChef at 9:09 AM on May 12, 2004

but what a fucked-up society it must be if you need a book and silly hat to teach you that you can do what you want

Yep. Thank god for feminism. And good for these ladies for being an example to younger ones. Maybe seeing this now, some women will be inspired not to wait. But it isn't always easy not to follow along with what you "ought" to be doing, not for most people.

So maybe everyone could show a little less contempt for people who didn't find it so easy to do what they wanted in the first place. And who gives a shit about looking silly? It's like that guy (there's always one) dancing in the corner with great passion and no skill—why begrudge someone his fun?
posted by dame at 9:23 AM on May 12, 2004

posted by dfowler at 9:34 AM on May 12, 2004

What I see here are women grasping for some way to "dress-up". Clothing culture in the US has become increasingly casual. To "dress" on any given day for no good reason except to be social has fallen by the wayside. Older folks now go about in track suits* and t-shirts and jeans (and god forbid shorts!). To "costume" oneself (note: the French word for a man's suit is "costume") now requires it to be ritualized -- given a stamp of approval as it were -- in this case by the Red Hat Society™. Look to the streets of Spain during the paseo to see how all westerners once dressed.

*The most outlandish example I've ever seen of this was at Mont St Michel in France. An older American woman, part of a tour group, wearing immaculate makeup and hairstyle, also had on immaculate "sneakers" and a beautiful "track suit" which swished when she walked. The poor fool.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:54 AM on May 12, 2004

I saw a bunch of these women at the science museum in Orlando a couple of months ago. I walked up to a trio and asked what the deal was with the red hats. I wish I could say that they were gracious and welcoming. Maybe they thought I was rude to be curious, so they were rude back.

Dick Paris, I hope you're right about dressing up. On that same trip to Orlando with my son, we went to Epcot and Disney's Animal Kingdom. After a while, I started actively searching for adults who dressed as adults. I know we were at amusement parks, but would it kill anyone to wear nice khaki shorts and a short-sleeve shirt with a collar? When you're an adult, it's time to stop dressing as a child.
posted by Holden at 10:13 AM on May 12, 2004

They put red brassieres on the statues. Ghastly women. this is funny.
posted by theora55 at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2004

I've seen 'em here in Columbus, Ohio... weaving through the Chihuly exhibit in the Franklin Park Conservatory. It reminds me, for some reason, of the way little kids play soccer: a huge, excited clump that doesn't make much of an impression on anybody outside of it.
posted by codger at 11:25 AM on May 12, 2004

(sorry if my previous post came across as a bit too critical of the women themselves. i think it reminds me too much of my own mother, in some ways...)
posted by andrew cooke at 11:26 AM on May 12, 2004

but would it kill anyone to wear nice khaki shorts and a short-sleeve shirt with a collar? When you're an adult, it's time to stop dressing as a child.

I don't know whether I'm more frightened by the idea that shorts apparently count as adult-wear now, or by the thought of dreadful spectacle you must have experienced to think of such an outfit as a change for the better.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:28 AM on May 12, 2004

When you're an adult, it's time to stop dressing as a child.

Why? Could you give some examples of what you consider non-adult clothing that you saw at the amusement park? Just curious.

I ran into a group of these ladies once, and they were wonderful. I hope I have that much gusto when I am fifty. Hell, I wish I had it now. To those of you poking fun at them, aside from the fact that they prefer to enjoy their socializing and silliness of dress in public, how is this any different than getting "dressed up" and going down to the lodge to play with the boys (Elks, Odd Fellows, etc.)?
posted by Orb at 11:34 AM on May 12, 2004

Well, that's silly, too.

In fact, the vision of a rumble between the Red Hat Society and a group of similarly aged Shriners (complete with fezzes and tiny bicycles) has just made me fall off my chair laughing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:43 AM on May 12, 2004

You don't have to be 50 to join, those under 50 wear lilac dresses and pink hats. We have a group here that had a float in our town festival last year. They sure seemed to be having more fun than anyone else in the parade.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:51 AM on May 12, 2004

Red hats? That's not cool. If you want to be cool, and show what an original non-conformist you really are, you sign up to a website and make a lot of snide, snarkey comments about Red Hats that all sound the same. That's cool.

I can tell who's going to be crankey old men when they're over 50 ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:13 PM on May 12, 2004

I'd hit it.
posted by NortonDC at 7:09 PM on May 12, 2004

When you're an adult, it's time to stop dressing as a child.

See, that's the opposite extreme that pushes me over to the side of the Red Hats. My only criticism of the Red Hats is that they wait so damned long to be silly. I started at 30, an early adopter, I guess.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2004

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