Within the seated sections of Churchill Downs, you will find hats of elegance and style. Generally speaking, women wear wide-brimmed, “Southern Belle” inspired Kentucky Derby hats. The hats can be decorated with flowers, feathers, bows and ribbons of any color to express creativity and individuality. Learn more about the Kentucky Derby Hat Tradition

Read below to learn more about Derby hats or click here for inspiration from Christine Moore, the Official Milliner of Derby 144.  Use promo code KYDERBYFEATURED for 5% off any of her hats.

Dress or Hat- Which Comes First?

You can exhale - there are two answers here!

Some will say that you absolutely get the outfit first. Then you design your hat to go with the outfit. (The argument here is that it's easier to custom design a hat than to "make" an outfit to go with a hat!)

Then there are those who say that you must definitely purchase, create or design your hat before picking out the outfit.

Most often in this case, matching the dress (or outfit) to your hat involves personal preference, however keep a few things in mind in getting dressed:

  • If your hat is having a pattern party, keep the dress design simple.
  • If the hat is simple and elegant, keep the outfit simple also for a classy look.
  • If you want a funky outfit, keep it consistent and accent the hat most of all!
  • If you have long hair, showcase a ponytail slightly to side or keep it down to one side to highlight the color on your face.

Hat or Fascinator?

A more recent trend in Kentucky Derby headwear is the fascinator. Smaller than a traditional hat and just as stylish, this piece of headwear has become more popular among Kentucky Derby attendees over recent years. Recently popularized by Kate Middleton, these chic, headpieces are made from a woven disc topped with feathers and netting and secured to your head via a comb or headband. They can be simpler to wear than a hat, and won't give you hat hair!

Do It Yourself - How to Make A Fascinator

Inspiration from the Experts

Christine A. Moore is the Featured Milliner of Kentucky Derby 144.  Check out some of her designs below for inspiration or view her full line at at camhats.com.  Use promo code KYDERBYFEATURED for 5% off.