This is Catherine Kung from The Southern
Gloss and I am back to talk about what is arguably the most important fashion
statement of the year… if you are a horseracing fan, that is! As Southerners, the Kentucky Derby is often
the highlight of our year. Every spring we celebrate the pageantry of this
grand sporting tradition by each selecting our own crown of glory for the
occasion: the Derby hat.
While the concept seems simple enough perhaps, to truly make
a beautiful fashion statement while avoiding certain pitfalls requires a bit of
thought and planning.
We touched on the history of
Kentucky Derby fashion in my last post, so lets dive in to the questions
that I get asked the most about The Hat.
1. What is the most
common mistake made when choosing a hat?
As with all of fashion, I believe that one of the worst
things a person can do when deciding what hat to wear is to limit yourself with
a set of rules. For instance, so often I hear women say “I can’t wear this particular hat because of
the shape of my face.” You will
immediately miss out on many fun options that expand your horizons . Instead,
choose what excites you and brings you joy! Try something new, whether it is an
unexpected shape or color. If you love the hat that you are wearing and feel
confident while wearing it, you will look amazing… and you can bet on it.
2. There are so many
kinds of hats! What is the difference?
While I am sure that there are more, I personally put them
into 4 categories.
wide-brim embellished “Southern Belle” style hat will give you extra personal
space because of it’s size. This showstopper is a classic! But be warned that
in tightly occupied areas it can become tricky to navigate the crowds.
- The average classic brim (typically not wider
than your shoulder width) is flattering for every person and is comfortable and
chic. Search out hats with elastic sizing built in to help your hat stay put on
from unexpected breezes.
- Fascinators’ are my personal favorite because
they are small and versatile. You can maneuver through crowds with ease and designs come in so many
creative shapes and concepts! They can be firmly pinned in and are often
attached to a headband or hair comb.
- Hatinators’ are a hat/fascinator hybrid. They
offer the structure and drama of a hat, with the added securing features of a
fascinator, such as a comb and hair band to hold it in place.
style hats are the easiest to wear. They are typically very lightweight and
comfortable making them easy to forget you even have it on! They style became
popular in the early 1960’s. Think Jackie Kennedy and her impeccable style
3. What is a milliner?
A milliner is an artist who specializes in designing and
making women’s hats from various fabrics and materials. Christine A. Moore is
the featured milliner of Kentucky Derby 144 and 145!
4. What comes first: the
hat or the dress?
There is no hard rule. When choosing a Derby week ensemble,
I always recommend to start with whichever inspires you first. I have
personally attended the Kentucky Derby 6 times. Of those, 3 times I chose the
hat first, while the other 3 began with me finding the absolute perfect dress
right out of the gate. There is no wrong answer. However, I will say that in
reflection of my previous Derby outfits, the most memorable and noteworthy
started with choosing the fabulous hat first because it made the biggest
statement of the day!
5. How should you wear
your hair with a hat?
I you have hair length above your shoulders, it is so no
problem to leave it down. (Just think of all the fabulous short cuts back in
the 1920’s with the amazing hats of the decade! )
For hair any longer than shoulder length, I highly recommend
pulling it back or in a low updo to keep it out of your face. Derby Day
festivities call for very long hours and often unpredictable spring weather. Long curls can go flat with a quick rain
shower or even slight humidity, so fuss-free hair is a must for an enjoyable
6. What is the best way
to know that your hat matches your outfit or is the right size?
It is very helpful to bring your hat or dress with you while
shopping. Around this season, most stores in the Louisville, Kentucky area are
fairly accustomed to customers toting around one piece or the other! It makes
it much easier to find the perfect match when you aren’t needing to guess.
When making a decision, it is not just coordinating colors
that is important, but also consider the texture of the fabric. A crisp,
tailored outfit would work well with a structured hat, but a soft and flowing
dress may look best with something more whimsical and organic.
Size depends on the person. Any person can truly wear any
shape; what matters most is proportion.
7. What if it rains?
If the weather is calling for a less-than-ideal scenario
involving water, steer clear of wearing hats with feathers and veiling. They
will not hold up to damp conditions well. Sometimes I will have a simple,
secondary hat planned just incase the day-of forecast changes last minute.
8. What if I want to
make my own hat?
I highly encourage creativity! There are so many online
resources and craft supply stores that will truly make the sky the limit if you
are feeling more hands-on. It is even a tradition amongst some friends and
families every year to come together to creative something one-of-a-kind and
special. Consider getting your friends together and host a hat making party! If
you are celebrating out of state , throwing a Derby party locally, or tuning in
around the world, get festive and celebrate with true Southern flair!
don’t know about you, but I am feeling so inspired and excited for Derby week.
It will be here before you know it, so don’ t wait to start planning! Stay posted for more interesting fashion
conversation coming soon
Bourbon and Roses,