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Sue Ellen Cooper gave a dear friend a copy of a poem encouraging women to put on a red hat and purple outfit in the face of getting older. She also gave the friend a bright red fedora to celebrate the friend's 55th birthday in November 1997.
The Red Hat Society officially formed April 25, 1998 when Sue Ellen Cooper and a group of five friends, known as The Founding Chapter of Fullerton, California, dressed in purple clothing and red hats and met for afternoon tea.
Word quickly spread of these outings after a story appeared in Romantic Homes in July 2000. Since then, hundreds of articles have been published in regional newspapers and national magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Women's Day.
Today The Red Hat Society has become the international society dedicated to reshaping the way women are viewed in today's culture. RHS supports and encourages women to pursue fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment of lifelong dreams and fitness. It serves as the center point for all communications and opportunities for its members offering tools, tips, discounts, services and events specifically with Red Hatters in mind. The Red Hat Society has spent over a decade developing a strong online communication tool for Members assisting them in gaining new and exciting ways to enjoy life, sharing their unique and motivating stories and helping Members find local hatters and activities they can participate in. Women over age 50 are known as "Red Hatters," while those under 50 are lovingly referred to as "Pink Hatters."
Shop for gifts for your Red Hatter friends or for your next tea party here and here