In the 1980s, the poem “The Warning” — the impetus for the “Red Hat Society” — was a big hit among U.S. women. Written 20 years earlier by Jenny Joseph of England, and not one of her personal favorites, the poem appeals to the rebel in every fashion conscious woman.
“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me…”
The Red Hat women take delight in flouting fashion convention by donning the frilly hats, white gloves and gossamer gowns of yesteryear.
One of the perks of crossing the threshold into old age, the poem says, is the freedom to not give a fig how you look.
Before I knew it, I stumbled across that barrier Saturday night, but it was anything but freeing.
The occasion was a masquerade party.
“Oh, where you wear fancy dresses and a feathery mask!” my Salvadoran daughter-in-law recalled.
Well, yes, for those who understand English.
Instead, Brian and I wore costumes — as in silly.
Our “theme” was a couple of invalids.
We wore pajamas — Brian in stately plaid, me in hot pink plastered with fluffy white sheep. We put real plaster casts on our legs, wrapped our heads up in gauze, and hobbled about on crutches.
Yes, we felt silly, but figured it was all part of the fun.
That is until we arrived at the party and found almost everyone else in cocktail attire with, indeed, sexy little feathery masks.
The predominantly younger crowd looked at us with bemusement.
In that one instance I felt I had cast my lot in with the ladies of the Red Hat Society. It felt like baptism by fire.
A WEEK out, I can (mostly) laugh about our fashion faux pas. And to be fair, everyone was truly generous in their remarks and took delight in our costumes.
But when I got the news that participants in next weekend’s fundraising spelling bee are to dress in bee-themed attire, you’ll understand if I respectfully decline.