The Reflections of Being a Hat Lady
Our fellowship of beautiful, strong and very fashionable women is a joy to us and to the community.
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the Hat Ladies, it's been a monumental lifesaver for me during this first year of relocation/transition from N.Y. to Charleston. Thank You for creating this wonderful "HAT LADIES TEAM", how lucky we all are.
I am so hatpy that I am included in such a wonderful group, comprised of so many talented women.
Being in The Hat Ladies has been one of the best things that has happened to me. I deeply value our time together and the chance to do good things.
The Hat Ladies makes life beautiful and meaningful for so many.
We keep doing what we do best: Making people smile with the love of our hats.
Hat Ladies say the nicest things when it is time to renew their membership:
My therapy check is on it's way....I always used to excuse myself when I make a purchase by telling myself it's cheaper than a shrink....well if I weren't a member of The Hat Ladies, I'd be in full time therapy and I imagine a lot of my hat sisters would be with me in "group"...the best thing I do for myself!!!!
Enclosed is my annual Happiness check!...worth a million bucks!
What a wonderful way to spend $25.00
It’s a pleasure to renew!
I have to say it is one of the best uses of $25 of which I know!
I very much appreciate all your hard work and endeavors that give me opportunities to wear my hats and do things I wouldn't do without The Hat Ladies
I'm certainly thankful that I found the Hat Ladies this year.
I could not be happier (hatpier) to renew my membership with the Hat Ladies. What a fun I have had and what great friendships have grown from it over this past year. It's the best deal, best experience in Charleston!!
This is the best (and not the only) $25.00 check I have written in 2012!
The Hat Ladies are a true sisterhood.
Thank you from the bottom of my…sox…(heart just didn’t seem deep enough) for all that you do…and how you bring fabulous women together!!!!!!!!!
Well done! You have a gift for tying us all together regardless of race, religion, or gender. Take care of ourselves, keep each other in prayer, and always know under our hats there are wonderful women keeping us strong because we are tied to one another
I've been blessed and honored to be a Hat Lady since 2003 ( I think)! When I think of The Hat Ladies, I smile! Joining this sassy, eclectic group of Hat Sisters has changed my life!
When I joined, I was very depressed as I was separated from my husband, my parents were gone and my children were both off in college. My life needed to take a new direction. Then along came one of the original members telling me about The Hat Ladies! So I joined and have felt uplifted and rejuvenated ever since! If I ever feel down, all I need to do is attend a Hat Lady event ...anything from a Hatpy Hour to a volunteer experience! Or just call a Hat Sister for comfort or advice! We all have our unique personalities and talents which make for a diverse, fun, caring, sensational, fabulous brigade of women of all ages who have the common desire to look good, feel good and do good!
The fun activities we participate in can be over the top, but the volunteer experiences have truly enriched my life beyond words! Making people smile heals my soul from the sweet looks of joy on the faces of the children at MUSC to the kind, mature, wise faces of the adults in the retirement, assisted living facilities! If I ever feel my life is tough, I just think of those less fortunate who have so much spirit and character! Hats do change people's outlooks and lives whether it be in the form of a compliment or just a smile! Hats build one's confidence! They have attracted much attention for me on my dating sites!
And all these experiences have been made possible due to the foresight in creating The Hat Ladies and the due diligence ever since in striving (and succeeding in making this world a better place! I look forward to all our future fabulous endeavors and experiences! As we say, "It only gets better!" THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL FOR ENRICHING MY LIFE!
Being a Hat Lady to me is making a difference in our community. We are symbols of elegance, grace, hope and love, and also a symbol of unselfishness by coming to the aid of those in need. I have been a Hat Lady for one year. During this year I have met wonderful ladies from all aspects of life who have the same passion that I have, which is to help others. The satisfaction that we all receive from a child's smile at MUSC or the smile of an elderly person at one of the local nursing homes cannot be put in words. The Hat Ladies touch the lives of all the individuals they come in contact with.
It took me a long time to join the Hat Ladies but I am so glad that I did. The friendships that I made and the fun that I have had is beyond anything that I ever expected. I look forward to being with my Hat Sisters for a long time.
The following episode really had a huge impact on me. It says best to me what the Hat Ladies are all about. I attended my first Hat Lady Luncheon in November, 2001. The next I attended was in February 2002, and we were celebrating Valentine's Day. I remember debating about whether to wear this very flamboyant red hat. I agonized for hours, trying it on, taking it off, trying it on, taking it off. I loved it but felt soooo self conscious in this beautiful red hat. I decided I had to wear it, and if I were out of place, I just wouldn't go back. I only knew a few ladies, which added to my discomfort.
Archie walked by me and whispered " I hope you feel as beautiful as you look in that gorgeous hat. WELL!!! I put my shoulders back, stood up tall, and smiled. "I had arrived". No more doubts, I was where I wanted to be with a group of beautiful women wearing these gorgeous hats, dressing to the nines, and willing to have a good time. I have never looked back. I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved with some of the nicest "ladies" in Charleston who enjoy doing good and looking good. It has added a dimension to my life that has been very fulfilling. Being able to help so many organizations that need the support that the Hat Ladies so willingly give has been very rewarding. I hope we have another ten years. Just sign me hatpy and grateful.
Favorite reflection: Hands down, the shy little smiles I am given after working with a child at MUSC when they first see themselves in the mirror.
I have met some of the most wonderful ladies. I have been to places I have never heard of & I am from here. I have had my picture in magazines & now on a poster. How exciting. Charities are endless. There is something for everyone. When there is a need the HATLADIES rise to the occasion. I love Easter Promenade. The kids, dogs, & all those fabulous hats. We look like a rainbow of colors. I am so proud to be in the company of some of the finest & best dressed women in the Lowcountry.
HOW LONG HAVE I BEEN A HAT LADY? IT SEEMS LIKE YEARS AND YEARS SINCE BEING A HAT LADY IS SO IMPORTANT TO MY LIFE. ACTUALLY, IT HAS BEEN 2-1/2 YEARS.
HOW DID I BECOME A HAT LADY?. I JUST HAPPENED TO BE IN THE CONSIGNMENT SHOP ON THE DAY OF THE FALL HAT EXCHANGE. I HAD 5 HATS IN MY HANDS AND ARCHIE SAID I MUST LOVE HATS AND SHOULD BE A HAT LADY.
WHY DID I BECOME A HAT LADY? I HAD RECENTLY MOVED TO CHARLESTON. I KNEW THE HAT LADIES WERE INVOLVED IN MANY COMMUNITY PROJECTS AND ORGANIZATIONS. I FELT IT WAS A GOOD WAY TO GET TO KNOW CHARLESTON. WHEN THE MONTHLY CALENDAR OF EVENTS CAME OUT, I WOULD SELECT A FEW THINGS TO DO. IN SHORT ORDER I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT MY NEW CITY.
WHAT WAS A NICE SURPRISE? BEING A HAT LADY GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET FANTASTIC LADIES - INTERESTING, WARM LADIES OF ALL AGES FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. WHAT WE SHARED IN COMMON WAS A LOVE OF HATS AND A LOVE OF GIVING OUR TIME AND TALENTS TO OUR COMMUNITY.
WHAT DOES THE HAT LADIES MEAN TO ME? I AM NOW INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS BUT THE HAT LADIES WILL ALWAYS BE NUMBER ONE FOR ME. IT IS THE FIRST THING THAT GOES ON MY CALENDAR. THE FRIENDS I HAVE MADE IN THE HAT LADIES ARE SOME OF MY MOST CHERISHED. I AM HAPPY AND PROUD TO BE A HAT LADY.
Only four months ago in May a "Hat Angel" noticed my hat and asked me after church if I had ever thought of joining the Hat Ladies? Well duh – yes of course - but I always thought you had to be invited. I never knew you just had to have a love of hats.
My Mom passed away this past December. She would have been even more excited then I have been to become a true Charleston Hat Lady. We were very close and I miss her support and love. Joining this wonderful group of woman that love life and hats has helped me fill some of the hole left in my heart from the loss of my Mom.
I joined the Hat Ladies in 2002, the year after my husband died. He always loved it when I bought a new hat. My Mother always had pretty hats, and I loved wearing a hat when I was growing up. It seemed that when I looked good, I felt good.
I've always enjoyed going to nursing homes, so when the Hat ladies go to all senior citiznes' places dancing and entertaining, I find it is so much fun making others happy!
The best part was meeting all the wonderful friends who I have made, which proves that "when you feel good, you do good."
On February 7, 2009, I attended my first Hat Ladies of Charleston luncheon at High Cotton and immediately decided that I wanted to be a part of this group. I was so fortunate to have met one member several months earlier but also soon had the opportunity to meet other wonderful Hat Sisters.. I had retired seven years earlier, so when I joined the Hat Ladies, I was eagerly anticipating a transition to another new phase of my adult life.
I lived a very active first 55 years of my life, which I refer to as Phase I. In Phase I, after having experienced divorce nearly 32 years ago, I independently raised two daughters and maintained a very active career as a department head and teacher . Although my career was very rewarding and fulfilling, it was very time-consuming . When I wasn’t teaching in the classroom or “putting out fires” as an administrator, I was involved in my daughters’ school and extra-curricular activities, including everything from soccer to dance and piano. Then in 1993 I became a caregiver to my mother who had Alzheimer’s Disease and took care of her in my home until she died in August 1998.
When I retired in December 2002, I feel that I transitioned into Phase II of my life. This second phase of my life included moving to a new city (Charleston), a new house, and transferring to a new church. With no longer having the obligations of a career and having become an “empty-nester,” I suddenly found that I had more time for all the activities I had always wanted to do. I became more active in my church and my community. Then I joined the Hat Ladies and really began to experience a feeling of happiness through making new friends, traveling to new places, and sharing new experiences. I especially enjoy the fun of socializing with hat sisters who have similar interests and love to dress “to the nines” from head to toe. I enjoy giving and receiving sincere compliments and being with women who are confident in themselves and each other and who simply enjoy life!
Although I had a little “bump in the road” called breast cancer in 2007, through God’s grace I survived and, as a result, I personally know how precious life really is. In this phase of my life I want every minute to count. I want my days to be filled with good health, good times, and good friends. In essence, I just want to be happy. Being a Charleston Hat Lady makes me happy!
Being a Hat Lady actually began for me while I lived in Maryland. My daughter, Grace, a new cub photographer working for the Post and Courier, told me about a wonderful group of women she discovered who loved wearing hats and promenaded down the streets of Charleston. She was very excited to cover the latest thing and get the story behind all of the hats. She herself is a "fashionista" who loves shoes, hats, bags, etc. The result of her discovery materialized as a picture she took of the first Promenade. Grace was the selected as the lucky photographer whose picture won the cover spot of the book, "South Carolina 24/7" sold at Barnes and Noble. The first picture in the book was the one she snapped of The Hat Ladies' First Promenade.
While back in Maryland, my co-workers at Montgomery County Recreation Department Classes Team (all women except our token gentlemen, Ralph) learned about the book. They were as excited as I was that there were actually women who dressed up and looked good while doing good. Our daily working uniform was tan slacks and a Recreation polo shirt in turquoise. So, the first chance we got to emulate the women of Charleston was a farewell retirement party for our beloved supervisor, Jackie. We decided to wear hats for the occasion and sing "Hello Dolly" to her. We were all so excited to dress up. This practice only amplified my desire to dress up and wear a hat, which we did at the wedding shower for my daughter.
After I survived an almost fatal illness, we moved to Charleston in 2004 and I recovered slowly. I knew no one, had no friends, no hope of ever meeting anyone and was very depressed about moving away from everything I ever knew. On one outing to a craft store, I overheard ladies who were wearing hats talking about the "next luncheon". My ears perked up and I immediately rushed over to introduce myself. They were Hat Ladies of Charleston and told me who to call. I think this may have been in the spring of 2005.
My daughter Grace took me to my first luncheon at Magnolias and I quickly made friends and even a connection to a church. As I progressively regained my strength, I became more active and was able to do more for others. For me, being a Hat Lady is a blessing. I never could have imagined that I would ever be able to do for others as they have done for me. Being a Hat Lady I have felt like a diva, imagined what it must be like to go to the Oscars, have walked for a "cure", have served others less fortunate and all the while was proud of being an ambassador of Charleston. Every city needs to do what we are doing. I think if women only knew what it was like to be stylish, have a care for others and look good while helping , they would be as happy as I am upon discovering there is another side of life. Life is short, wear a hat and sun screen and do good to others while looking good.
BEING A HAT LADY FOR ME IS A SPECIAL EXPERIENCE AND SO MUCH FUN. IF YOU LOVE HATS, JOIN THE CHARLESTON HAT LADIES. IT'S THE PLACE TO BE. I BECAME A HAT LADY IN APRIL 2008, AND I WILL NOT REGRET THAT MOMENT.
I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED HATS, BUT THERE WERE ONLY A FEW OCCASIONS TO WEAR THEM. BUT NOW I WEAR THEM WHERE AND WHENEVER I WANT TO.
NOT ONLY WEARING A HAT IS FUN. IT'S THE FUN AND PLEASURE YOU HAVE WITH YOUR SISTER HAT LADIES. YOU MEET NICE AND WONDERFUL LADIES WITH WHOM YOU CAN SHARE A LOT OF WONDERFUL THINGS. THAT IS THE PLEASURE OF BEING A HAT LADY.
I have always been a hat lady beginning with my childhood when I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and my Grandmother toured me around town. When she visited her girlfriend who owned the local hat shop, I was treated to a bench in front of a large mirror with a chest of drawers full of hats which I was allowed to model. I always wore hats to church and on all occasions.
I first learned about The Hat Ladies in a memoir writing class ten years ago. I wore a simple straw hat to class which my daughter had given to me. The next thing I knew, a hat club was being formed, and we were headed downtown to Charleston Place for tea.
Who would have thought it would have gone so far!
I continue to write my memoirs and hope to publish this year. The name I have chosen represents something I have always believed in, and my story is a reflection on the life of a survivor. It is my hope that it will inspire others to survive.
H – Honorable, Humanitarian, and High Standards
A – Around the year fun!
T – Time well spent volunteering, being with other Ladies, and special times with Family and Friends
L – Lots of Laughter, Life, and Love
A – Amazing Lunches and Activities
D- Doing Charleston Proud!
Y- You can simply be You!
As Hat Ladies, we have opportunities to shine. Our lives are multi-dimensional – we can express our feminism through our hats, our zest for life through our hats, and sharing our love of hats with others in meaningful ways.
Thank you Archie for all the things you make possible for me to participate or even not to as my energy dictates. There is no better feeling in the world than that of acceptance and caring and making close friends of diverse ages, background , religion and politics with one common interest if no other "that of wearing hats". Even if a Hat Lady moves away, we keep in touch; close friendships started while being hatladies last.
Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away (called Mississippi) lived a little girl named Rose Red who loved hats. Her mother wore hats. Her grandmother wore hats.
Rose Red grew up and, sadly, married a cruel prince. His job carried her from here to there. While living in London, Rose Red invited an American friend to have tea at the Ritz (and to dress up in hats, of course). The friend replied, "The only hat that goes on my head is a baseball cap." Quelle horreur!
Time passed. Rose Red's icons, Audrey, Jackie, and Grace were no more. It was the dark era of flip flops and sweat pants.
At last Rose Red found herself living in Charleston. One day she was invited to high tea at Charleston Place. Hats were not only encouraged but required. Rose Red rushed to Saks. With the aid of a very enthusiastic young salesman, she purchased a stylish big brimmed black chapeau. As Rose Red entered the lobby of Charleston Place, heads turned, noticing her hat. Rose Red thought, "This is more like it."
As Rose Red glanced up, she saw the most charming sight -- a gathering of ladies of all ages, each wearing a beautiful hat. As they sat at the tea tables conversing, their hats turned this way and that. From a distance, the effect was that of a lovely field of flowers bending on their stems. Rose Red said to herself, "I am not the only one!" And that is how she came to abide in the wonderful Kingdom of The Hat Ladies of Charleston where there was even a beautiful queen, known as Archie, the Top Hat.
And so it was that Rose Red lived happily ever after joining The Hat Ladies in 2002.
(The following entry is from the daughter of a Hat Lady whose own 19 year old daughter (the granddaughter to our Lady) has been diagnosed with brain cancer): I want to thank you (a million times over for all that you and the Hat Ladies have done for me. The latest is your connecting me to a Hat Lady who connected me to her friend in Washington, DC so that I might stay with her when my daughter undergoes her chemo treatments.
I must tell you
that since this whole situation began, you and the Hat Ladies have been the
biggest source of support for me (and my family). Even more so than some of my
extended family. In emotional support, and sometimes even in financial support.
The generosity I have experienced has overwhelmed me. I can honestly say I have
never experienced anything like this before. I don't know if I will ever really
be able to thank you all enough. Anything I say seems to fall short of the
magnitude the impact has had on me. I only hope I am one day able and in the
position to impact someone else's life the way you all have on me.
Thank you again. Big hugs, much love and many blessings to you and ALL of the Hat Ladies!
What It Means