Here are some frequently asked questions about Red Hatting

What is the Red Hat Society and what does it do?
What is a “Chapter”, and what is a “Queen”?
How do I join a Chapter?
What is a “Supporting Member”?
Do I have to wear red and purple?
But those colours don’t suit me!
Does it need to be solid purple (or lavender) clothing?
Are Pink Hatters part of the same Society?

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What is the Red Hat Society and what does it do?
The Red Hat Society (RHS) is a worldwide social club for women.  Easily identifiable in our gorgeous Red and Purple colours. The primary focus is about fun and friendship, especially for those over the age of 50.  Hatters get together in “Chapters” to socialise and have fun.  It is non-religious and open to all women. Women over the age of 50 wear the Red Hats and Purple clothing (“Red Hatters”), women under the age of 50 wear Pink Hats and Lavender clothing (“Pink Hatters”). As it is a Society for women, husbands and other males, as well as children are not generally invited to attend.

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What is a “Chapter”, and what is a “Queen”?
A Chapter is the name given to the smaller groups of Hatters.  Each Chapter runs independently, so they are all different in terms of how many members they have, how often they meet and what activities they do. These are usually based in a town to gather local women together and there can be more than one chapter in a town if there are enough women to support multiple chapters.  Chapter sizes can range from as small as only 1 member to as large as the group wants to be.  Often chapters like to cap membership at around 20 members, to keep the group manageable and personal.  You can be a member of more than 1 chapter.  The person who founded the chapter is called the “Queen”  (or “Queen Mother” if she has retired and a new Queen has taken her place).  So the Queen is the figurehead or leader of the chapter.  However she is not expected to take on all the responsibility of running the chapter, so there are often Vice Queens and other delegated members to help keep things running smoothly.

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How do I join a Chapter?
Find a chapter in your town, or within easy travel distance to you, and make contact with them. There are 3 main ways to make contact with a Chapter. We have a Chapter/group listing of all the known Chapters within Victoria (Australia) here on this website – simply find your suburb or one close-by, and find the contact information for that chapter.  You can also use the RHS website “Chapter Search” feature  or look to see if there is a chapter listed for your area on the Matilda Rose website (email her for the contact information).

Different Chapters may have different membership rules.  Some will charge a small yearly fee for being a member (which helps cover expenses and insurance), some may ask for donations through the year or do fundraising to raise money for expenses.  When you contact the Chapter they should tell you any of the information you would need to know to join them.

Please note that joining a Chapter does not necessarily make you an official “Supporting” member of the Red Hat Society.  You need to register with the Red Hat Society itself to become a full supporting member.

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What is a “Supporting Member”
A supporting member is one who has registered with the Red Hat Society and paid their yearly membership fee to become an official member of the Red Hat Society.  Technically only the women who have done this are allowed to refer to themselves as a “Red Hatter”.  Some Chapters will ask for your membership number when you ask to join them – this membership number will be on the membership card you receive from the RHS once you are a supporting member.

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Do I have to wear red and purple?
Yes (if you are over 50).  The distinctive attire of a Hatter is what shows that they are a member of the Red Hat Society, as well as being a reflection of the attitude that forms the basis for the Society.  This dress code comes from the “Warning” poem by Jenny Joseph, which talks of wearing “purple with a red hat, which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me”.  This has been used as the motto of sorts for the Red Hat Society.  To wear clothing that is bright and colourful (especially if it doesn’t suit you), to be the complete opposite of subtle and demure, to have fun and not to “act your age”.  Dressing in the attire of a Hatter is known as wearing your “Colours” and can be considered the equivalent of a uniform.

If you are over the age of 50, you are to wear “Red on the Head, Purple below” –  Which basically means a red hat/fascinator with purple clothing.  Ladies under the age of 50 wear Pink on the head and lavender below.  The exception to this is on your birth month, your chapter birth month and the birth month of the RHS (April) – where you may “Reverse Colours” – instead wearing Purple on the Head, Red Below.

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But those colours don’t suit me!
That is rather the point!  (although I’m yet to find anyone who doesn’t look fabulous in their colours!) It is about not caring what the world thinks of what you do or wear, and having fun doing it anyway.  As the colours are the main distinguishing factor of the Red Hat Society, if you are not prepared to embrace the colours, then you may find you are better suited to a different women’s social club that doesn’t have a particular dress code.

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Does it need to be solid purple (or lavender) clothing?
No.  While the dress code for the Society defines the colours you should wear, you can decide how much of the clothing you wear is coloured, and what style or prints you like.  The important thing is to embrace the idea behind wearing the colours, and to make an effort to dress accordingly.  You can wear a purple floral top with blue jeans, or a white shirt with purple stripes and a black skirt – it is up to you.  If you look at photos of Hatters in large groups, you will see there is a huge variety in what people wear.  You can also see how wonderful it looks when you have a sea of reds and purples – so the more of the colours you can wear, the more vibrant the whole group looks!  (See also our article on what is purple)

The official word (from the 2015 Queen’s Handbook) states:

“Some have asked exactly what constitutes a hat: will a bow suffice? Or, what shade of
purple is the proper shade? Can I wear red shoes with my purple outfit? Can I wear a
purple print dress? Can I wear a magenta hat?
Remember, this is regalia, not a uniform. Each Member chooses how she will express
herself visually. It is more important to enjoy each other’s company than to worry about
small details regarding what each one is wearing. It’s all part of the same informal spirit
that we use to avoid “meetings”—there is no place for “Robert’s Rules of Order” at our
gatherings! Let’s keep the fun in the Society. Just stick to the basics: red (or pink!) on the
head, and something purple (or lavender) below. Simple!  That is what makes being a
Red Hatter so appealing…less rules and more fun.” 

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Are Pink Hatters part of the same society?
Yes. Although most people think of the Red Hat Society as being only for ladies over 50 who wear the Purple and Red, Pink Hatters are part of the same “Red Hat Society” and can do all the same things Red Hatters do (except wearing red and purple!).  The only difference is their age (under 50 years old) and they wear the lighter shades of Pink and lavender (light purple/lilac etc.) to distinguish them.   You can even find Pink Hatter Queens, chapters that are a mixture of Red and Pink Hatters as well as chapters with just “Pinkies” in them.

There are fewer Pink Hatters than there are Red Hatters, perhaps partly because women know about the Red Hatters being over 50, but not as many women are aware that you can be a Pink Hatter.

When the RHS was formed in 1998, it was only for women over 50. However in 2000 Pink Hatters were introduced into the Society. So Pink Hatters have been part of the RHS for almost as long as as it has been going.

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