History of The Hat Ladies

Archie* Burkel, also known as "Top Hat," grew up loving hats as Barbara Goldsmith in Chicago, Illinois.  But it would take a move to Charleston, South Carolina to motivate her to do something besides simply wear them herself.  She set out to gather other Ladies who love to wear hats and encourage them to do so as well. 

At the drop of a hat, their hat wearing took on a significant volunteer component as "fashion" joined "compassion."

(And yes, she basically picked the nickname "Archie" out of a hat; too many "Barbara's").


March 2001: Four Ladies who loved hats, (who did not know one another), went on an Historic Charleston Foundation House tour together.

May 2001:  15 Ladies who loved hats, (who, for the most part, did not know each other), met at Charleston  Place Hotel for High Tea.  The Post and Courier sent a photographer.

June 2001: 13 Ladies who loved hats, (who were beginning to know some of the others, had their picture taken under "The Hat Man" mural on Carolina Day.  The Post and Courier sent a reporter.

July 2001: The Post and Courier printed their first major article and picture about The Hat Ladies.  Membership tripled.  It was time for a bona fide luncheon.

September 10, 2001:  48 Ladies who loved hats, (who still only knew a handful of others), gathered at Alhambra Hall for a potluck lunch and an elegant, carefree afternoon of camaraderie.

9-1-1 was the next day.

Every year our September Luncheon is a celebration of our anniversary and a tribute to our country.

Thus a loosely knit group of four (4) women who genuinely loved hats of all colors emerged as The Hat Ladies LLC, a well-structured, meaningful Organization with hundreds (100's) of Ladies.  Archie went from being new to town to being honored throughout Charleston and South Carolina.  Kindly  click on her resume for details.

New members of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to toss their hats in our ring, while those outside the Charleston area are encouraged to contact Archie about forming a cHApTer in their location..


"Meeting and Eating" activities quickly expanded to participation in civic, cultural, educational, and social events.  Soon businesses began creating "Hatpenings" just for The Hat Ladies; organizations started inviting them to their functions as a lovely addition.  The Hat Ladies can even be seen as being patriotic and stimulating the economy.  Hat shops have multiplied in towns where Ladies reside, and stores carrying accessories have experienced their own "trickle down" theory.  The Hat Ladies movement may start (h)at the top, but it flows right down to the jewelry, purse, and shoes. 

Ladies are feeling pretty and having FUN--MEANINGFUL FUN...something that doesn't hurt in the best of times and surely doesn't hurt when Americans are experiencing anxiety and uncertainty. Their hats are a powerful symbol of volunteerism, for when one looks and feels good, one does good. Thus The Hat Ladies effortlessly blend camaraderie and community service, fashion with compassion.

Above all, people are coming together because of The Hat Ladies.  The love of hats is not tied to a particular age, gender, religion, ethnicity, or culture; it cuts across all differences. It is the perfect icebreaker.  Total strangers are talking to one another, expressing their admiration for The Ladies' hats. They typically share their own love of  hats, then start wearing theirs, too.  Confidence and communication are wHAT it's all about.  Hat by hat, barriers between people are coming down.

Contents Archie, Top Hat