The first-ever Iowa convention of the Red Hat Society opens today in Des Moines, gathering women from across the Midwest who are — well, just a little wacky. Organizer Shirley Stoutner says there are few rules to become a member of the social order, and the rules all revolve around one’s attire — and a thirst for amusement. Women 50 and older wear red hats and purple clothing while women 49 and under wear pink hats and lavender clothes. Stoutner says activities planned for the gaggle of 150 or so hat-wearing ladies include a five-course high tea, among other things. Also on the docket — a hula-hoop contest, a sock hop, a cake walk and doing the limbo to 50s and 60s music. Stoutner says the society has 4,000 chapters globally, as far away as Japan. She says the central Iowa members stay busy with trips, gatherings, parties and parades. The society was created following publication of a poem by Jenny Joseph entitled: “When I’m an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple and a Red Hat.” Stoutner says the group is all about having fun and aging gracefully. For more information, surf to