The Red Hat Society is the result of the fortuitous melding of an imaginative poem and a lady with imagination. The poem is "Warning" by Jenny Joseph and the lady is Sue Ellen Cooper. Jenny Joseph's poem is about a woman approaching middle age and looking foreword to a more eccentric lifestyle.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
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.
Sue Ellen Cooper bought a red hat for a friend, then another and, after reading "Warning" decided that there must be other ladies out there that want to face the 50's with verve and elan. She was right and the ranks have swelled beyond anyone's imagination. Thousands of woman have joined The Red Hat Society which has no rules except to have fun and wear a purple outfit with a red hat.
For more about "Warning" follow this link.