Kentucky Derby Women’s Attire


Kentucky Derby Fashion How To Dress Hats Outfits And More

Kentucky Derby Fashion Do’s And Don’ts

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Where To Buy Kentucky Derby Outfits

You can shop for appropriate Kentucky Derby attire almost anywhere that fits your budget, from vintage shops to swanky boutiques. Just think spring and have confidence in your sense of style as you look around. If the price is no object, you can even have your hat or outfit custom created. On the other hand, many budget-conscious attendees choose to make portions of their own outfit, particularly their hats. Grandma and Grandpas closet may also be a great place to look for one-of-a-kind vintage formal wear. For a selection of official Kentucky Derby outfits and accessories, visit Vineyard Vines.

Featured Milliner Christine A Moore Advice/hat Tips:

  • Most important! – Hats are all about personality, especially for the Kentucky Derby! If the style fits your personality, start there and then let us help you customize the hat to fit everything else about you! It is important to consider brim size, crown size and your head measurement. We always want the proportions to be spot-on and fit you comfortably for the entire day!
  • Hat or Dress first? We say either! Find the hat or dress that speaks to you and the rest will follow. We are always here to help either way!
  • Match or not to match? Matching is certainly eye-catching and sometimes elegant, but blending is always elegant. Again, it goes back to how you want your audience to view you and your personality.
  • The Kentucky Derby is actually a 2 day fashion event. Oaks on Friday and the Derby on Saturday. Do I have to wear specific colors to either one? Not at all. The Kentucky Derby is a chance for guests to express themselves through fashion, and you will see every shade and hue and lots more represented! Many women and men will incorporate various shades of pink into their outfits on Oaks day and some will incorporate floral shades of red into their looks on Derby Day in support of the nickname Run for the Roses.
  • Do men really wear hats to the Derby? Yes! A sleek fedora trimmed in colors to match a suit is timeless and always a classic look. Choose straw over felt and you will be cooler!
  • To learn more about Christine and her Collections go to:

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    Kentucky Derby Party Fashion

    The Kentucky Derby is a chance for every woman to express her inner Southern Belle. The races founder, Colonel M. Lewis Clark, Jr., had a vision for an experience that felt both comfortable and luxurious. Today, a myriad of fashions can be found at Derby from cool sundresses to simple cocktail dresses and even more formal attire. But all these styles have one thing in common: the big Derby hat! Learn more about the Kentucky Derby Hat tradition.

    Part Southern tradition, partspectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade is much of what makes The GreatestTwo Minutes in Sports one of the greatest people-watching events in the world!From the fantastic to the sublime, there are no rules or limits when it comesto choosing your Derby hat.

    Wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby isbelieved to bear good luck! The long-established fashion was started by thewomen, however, over the last few years, many men have taken part in thetradition as well. Wearing a hat is much like getting into costume, you mightbe pleasantly surprised to see what type of character you become. From thefantastic to the sublime, there are no rules or limits.

    Within the seated sections of ChurchillDowns, you will find hats of elegance and style. Generally speaking, women wearwide-brimmed, Southern Belle inspired Kentucky Derby hats. The hats can bedecorated with flowers, feathers, bows and ribbons of any color to expresscreativity and individuality.

    You can exhale – there are two answershere!

    Kentucky Derby Dresses For Women

    Pin by Stormie Ellenburg on Kentucky Derby Party

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    Consider The Weather When You Pick Out Your Kentucky Derby Outfit

    Once you have your hat, the weather is your biggest consideration.

    This is not a joke.

    May 7, the date of this year’s Kentucky Derby, could be can be 85 degrees and sunny or something like 2018, the wettest Kentucky Derby on record when it poured 3.1 inches of rain throughout the day.

    “If you are a local, you know that May in Louisville can be warm and sunny, cool and rainy or somewhere in between,” said Ross. “Having dressed women and men for the Kentucky Derby for decades, I can tell you the best choice is to wear garments that breathe so you’ll be comfortable. So think about natural fabrics like cotton, gauze, linen and silk. And I always recommend you have a plan for chilly or rainy weather.”

    Top It Off With A Perfect Hat

    If theres one thing that makes Kentucky Derby so one-of-a-kind compared to other fashion events, its the honorable hat tradition.


    Okay, you probably ignore it but seriously, my point is to be as dramatic and wild as you want.

    Trust me, people certainly pay more attention to your hat than your dress.

    Among all kinds of hats, I will always suggest wearing a big statement hat with pastel hues for a sure-to-turn heads look.

    But if you want to keep things subtle, fascinators can be a really good choice for a dainty look.

    Plus, they are definitely easier to carry around!

    It just opens up your face more and contours your face to be smaller.

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    Pick Bold Bright Colors For Your Kentucky Derby Outfit

    We’re crazy for color at the Kentucky Derby. As a result, you wont find many shrinking violets at the track.

    Colors hanging in your closet that will impress at the race track include shades of pink, indigo, orange, bright yellow and greens and various shades of purple and blue.

    Spectator color combinations are always classic at a horse race. Black and white or navy and white never go out of style and don’t forget a splash of color in your shoes, purse or accessories. It’s the Derby, after all.

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    Or A Similar Pair Of Boots To Channel The Spirit Of Kentucky While You Cheer On Your Favorite Horse

    Kentucky Derby fans go all-in with bold fashion choices

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    The Kentucky Derby Style

    Fashion has always been an important part of the Kentucky Derby. Founder Clark was concerned women wouldn’t want to attend the races when they started in the late 1800s because of their association with drinking and gambling. His wife suggested telling women to use the races as an excuse to dress up and picnic with their friends, and the idea took off. The races started in the Edwardian era when corsets and bustles were all the rage. During this time, hats signified a lady’s status in society. The bigger, the better. That’s become a time-honored tradition of the races that is still observed today.

    The Bigger The Better

    We’re talking about hats, of course! Saying you will see some of the biggest, most outrageous hats you’ve ever seen in your life at Churchill Downs® on Derby day is an understatement. Ruffles, flowers, tulle, ribbons, bows, bright colors, wide rims, high feathers, you name it!

    Pageantry is huge at the Kentucky Derby and drawing from horse racing’s British roots, it all starts with the hat for the ladies. It gives you a chance to add some creativity to your outfit and show off your personal flair.

    And do keep in mind, your hat is doing much more than adding elegance to your outfit. It’s also shading your face from the Kentucky sun no pink, sunburned cheeks for you!

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    There Is No Kentucky Derby Without All Of The Amazing Hats

    While the hat trend started with women, over the last few years, many men have begun to join in on the fun! Wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby is much like getting into costume. There are no rules or limits when it comes to your Kentucky Derby hat. You will find hats of elegance and style decorated with flowers, feathers, bows and ribbons! Not only does your Kentucky Derby hat express creativity and individuality, but it is also believed to bear good luck!While the Kentucky Derby outfits and styles vary, there is one thing they all have in common: the big Derby hat! Some will say that you absolutely should get the outfit first and then design your hat to perfectly match your outfit. This way, it is much easier to find a custom hat than it is to find a custom outfit!However, others say you must definitely purchase the hat first! Since it is the star of the show you want to find the one that you love the best and not limit your choices to match a specific Derby dress.

    Most often in this case, matching the dress to your hat involves personal preference, however keep a few things in mind:

    • If your hat is having a pattern party, go for a simple and solid colored dress.
    • If the hat is simple and elegant, also go with a classic dress to round out the look.
    • If you want a fun and bold outfit, keep it consistent and accent the hat most of all!

    The ultimate decision you will need to make is: hat or fascinator?

    Kentucky Derby Attire: 12 Of The Best Items To Spruce Up Your Outfit


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    Every year, on the first Saturday in May, about 150,000 people pile into Churchill Downs to watch the fastest two minutes in sports. Otherwise known as the Kentucky Derby, this day is an opportunity for millions of other people to gather for in-home Derby parties where they make friendly wagers, drink mint juleps and watch the races from afar.

    The Kentucky Derby is a grand spring tradition thats been going on for nearly 150 years. But its soooo much more than just a horse race

    The Kentucky Derby is also a fashion-focused event!

    Whether youre heading to Louisville or getting together with family and friends somewhere else, our guide to Kentucky Derby attire, plus some of our favorite dresses, jackets and hats, can help you put together the perfect Derby day look!

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    History Of Kentucky Derby Attire

    Kentucky Derby attire has always been on the fancier side. Since its inaugural running in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has courted the fashion-conscious. Founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. was enamored with the grand horse races he attended while traveling through England and France in 1872, and he wanted to create a similarly prestigious event in the United States. However, he was concerned that more conservative Americans might find the drinking and gambling associated with the event unsavory. To ward off any hints of seediness, he invited Louisvilles high-society ladies and gentlemen to attend the race in full morning dress, which was the poshest daytime dress code possible.

    Race-goers in 1926.

    Since then, women and men have been flocking to Churchill Downs each May to strut their finest Kentucky Derby attire. Their outfits can be simple or bold, designer or handmade, but theyre always fabulous, and, for women, they almost always center on a jaw-dropping hat.

    Kentucky Derby Hats For Men

    Men should get in on the fun of picking out a hat for the Kentucky Derby, too. In recent years, it’s become very fashionable for men’s hats to be as big and bold as their female counterparts. Check out ice skater Johnny Weir’s recent Kentucky Derby hat choices for a dose of inspiration.

    If you are wearing a bright or bold suit, though, it may be best to stick to a traditional hat. Choose a straw fedora with a classic ribbon detail for something that’s not only derby appropriate, but great for the rest of summer, too.

    Vintage 1920s style skimmer hat1.5 inch band with burgundy/navy stripeIdeal for performances, 4th of July or any hat collectorThe 2 inch brim can help shade from sun raysInterior elastic sweatb…

    A straw boater is a great choice, too, inspired by the southern fashion of yesteryear. Hats with bold patterns are a fun option if you need to jazz up a traditional suit.

    Or you can embrace unisex fashion and opt for a coordination fascinator, instead.

    Material: Polyester, feather, veil and rhinestone.Size: This vintage tea party fascinator is free size with gently bendable headband and fits most women.Features: It is a timeless and elegant fas…

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    Kentucky Derby Dress Code

    For most attendees of the Kentucky Derby, there is no formal dress code to follow. There is only an official dress code if you are in premium areas such as the Derby Room, the Turf Club, and Millionaires Row. These areas require business casual or casual attire, including jackets and collared shirts for men and dresses or pantsuits for women. You are free to wear whatever you want in other areas of Churchill Downs, but the race track reserves the right to deny someone entry based on their clothing choices. Jeans, crop tops, tennis shoes, and torn clothing are generally frowned on. After all, getting dressed up is part of the fun of attending the race.

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    Kentucky Derby fashions

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    Dressing For The Weather At Kentucky Derby

    When it comes to choosing what to wear to the Kentucky Derby, the weather is an important factor. It can get very hot on race day, particularly on the infield, so wearing easily removable layers is recommended for both women and men. Rain is also common, so protect your precious duds with an umbrella or a poncho. Finally, should the sun decide to shine, dont forget to use sunscreen. You will regret it if you dont.

    Pack a plastic poncho just in case to help protect your Kentucky Derby attire. Image Source: PRI.

    Kentucky Derby Outfits For Women

    Once youve chosen the perfect hat, youre ready to build the rest of your outfit. If your hat is a show-stopper, choose a simple dress that doesnt compete with it. If your hat is conservative and elegant, like a fascinator, choose something sleek and classy to pair it with. However, dont overthink it too much. Trust your instincts and have fun.

    Complement your hat with either simple, classic cuts or bolder, edgier ones. Photo by Dave Bennet.

    As for shoes, keep in mind that youll encounter cobblestone, grass and steps at Churchill Downs, so flexible footwear is key. A chunky heel is a safe bet, but those who are determined to wear stilettos may want to pack some emergency flats for later in the day.

    Finally, youll need a bag to finish off your look. Actually, youll probably need two bags. The first bag should be a chic clutch that accents your outfit. The second bag should be a larger, though still stylish, tote to carry your flats and other must-have items.

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    Have Alternate Kentucky Derby Outfits Picked Out And Ready To Go

    You should be prepared with three different wardrobe options because we never know exactly what the weather will dish up on Kentucky Derby Day.

    It has snowed on Derby Day but heat or rain should be your primary focus

    “Option one is your dress, pantsuit, jumpsuit or romper,” said Ross. “Option two is adding a shrug or wrap if the forecast calls for morning or evening temperatures to drop and if you have tickets in an air-conditioned section of the track.”

    Dressing for rainy weather should be your third option. Lately, it seems like it rains every other year on Kentucky Derby Day and sometimes it rains buckets. Be prepared with a clear rain jacket or poncho in your closet. These are great choices because your Kentucky Derby outfit is still visible through the plastic. And remember, no umbrellas are allowed inside Churchill Downs.

    One more note on the rainy weather wardrobe. Women may want to have cute coordinating rainboots on hand. Men can now find waterproof versions of their more formal footwear.

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    Your goal on Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day is to look like a million bucks, no matter if you’re sitting in the Grandstand, the illustrious Millionaire’s Row, in the infield or at your at-home party. But of course, you can spend much less than a millionaire if you use these tips as inspiration.

    Reach Kirby Adams at or Twitter @kirbylouisville.

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