Spunky Old Broads Month And The Red Hat Society – See What They Share

(Image via perfectlycursedlife.com)

Edited for repost: January 2014

One of the most searched for and viewed posts for January 2014 is the Spunky Old Broads Month post from 2012. I thought that since it is one of the most viewed posts this month, I would repost with information about the Red Hat Society. Pat S. left a comment on the original post that the poem “Warning” also plays a part in the history of the Red Hat Society. This excerpt, about founder Sue Ellen Cooper, is from their about page:

While visiting a friend in Tucson several years ago, Sue Ellen impulsively bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop, for no other reason than that it was cheap and, she thought, quite dashing. A year or two later she read the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat. Sue Ellen felt an immediate kinship with Ms. Joseph. She decided that her birthday gift to her dear friend, Linda Murphy, would be a vintage red hat and a copy of the poem. She has always enjoyed whimsical decorating ideas, so she thought the hat would look nice hanging on a hook next to the framed poem. Linda got so much enjoyment out of the hat and the poem that Sue Ellen gave the same gift to another friend, then another, then another.

One day it occurred to these friends that they were becoming a sort of “Red Hat Society” and that perhaps they should go out to tea… in full regalia. They decided they would find purple dresses which didn’t go with their red hats to complete the poem’s image.

This quote is from Sue Ellen Cooper, Queen Mother of the Red Hat Society:

“The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humor and elan. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next.”

While Spunky Old Broads Month and the Red Hat Society are not affiliated with each other, I think both show the spirit and enthusiasm of embracing  middle age and beyond instead of automatically declaring it the enemy. Besides, we are so wise by the time we reach middle age, we can’t help but laugh at some of the absurdities of life.

The following is the original post. Have a wonderful and spunky February.


February is Spunky Old Broads Month and February 1st is Spunky Old Broads Day! You know some Spunky Old Broads, either personally or as characters in books, television shows and movies (I always think of the Golden Girls and Auntie Mame).  Zanyholidays.com has this wonderful description.

Spunky old broads are positive, fun, butt-kicking mature women over the age of 50 who refuse to sit back quietly and get old. They want excitement! They want a regret-free life! They want form fitting aprons! They want calcium supplements!

When I grow up, I want to be a Spunky Old Broad! I want to wear hats

(Image via webmd.com)

and if I have to use a cane,

(Image via amazon.com)


(Image via mbacofficesolutions.com)

or wheelchair,

(Image via neatorama.com)

I want them to sparkle in the sun.

Something that kept showing up on different blogs as I was doing searches for Spunky Old Broads is a poem by Jenny Joseph she wrote in 1961 called Warning. You may also know it as When I Am An Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple. So, if you know a Spunky Old Broad, perhaps share this poem with her at lunch or while having some brandy and start practicing some spunkiness yourself.


by Jenny Joseph

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.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.



  1. Guess I must be a spunky old broad by now — or maybe I’m funky not spunky! Here’s to red hats and purple dresses. And, purple hats and red dresses!

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