WA1911042

American Socialites drinking tea, circa 1920

Hats appear to be the status symbol amidst these wealthy tea drinkers.

A socialite is a person (usually from a wealthy, or aristocratic background) who plays a prominent role in or is very frequently involved in high society. A socialite generally spends a significant amount of time attending various fashionable social gatherings.

The concept of socialites dates to the 18th and 19th century. Most of the earliest socialites were wives or mistresses of royalty or nobility, but being a socialite was more a duty and a means of survival than a form of pleasure. Bashful queens were often forced to play gracious and wealthy hostess to people who despised them. Mistresses had to pay for their social reputation and had to use their social skills to obtain favor in the court and retain the interest of their lovers.

With the increase of wealth in America in the 19th century, being a socialite developed into a role that brought power and influence.

The word "socialite" appears the first time in English language in 1928, in Time magazine

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