Kentucky Derby Party Fashion

Her Derby Style

The Kentucky Derby is a chance for every woman to express her inner Southern Belle. The race’s 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.

Hats

Part Southern tradition, part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade is much of what makes “The Greatest Two 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 comes to choosing your Derby hat.

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

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.

In the Churchill Downs Infield, hats are a bit more eccentric! You will see hats in all shapes and sizes, as well as some hats exuding humorous themes!

Christine A. Moore- Featured Milliner of Kentucky Derby 144

Christine creates styles that are beautiful, elegant, easy to wear, and have been grabbing the attention of celebrities and photographers for years! She is the first and only Milliner to garner many racing titles, so you should definitely take a look at some of her styles here and at camhats.com. Use promo code KYDERBYFEATURED for %5 off.

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!

Party Fashion Tips

Brunch Event
A pantsuit, cocktail dress or business formal attire is recommended. Of course, you’ll want to accessorize accordingly. Pearls, a vineyard vines clutch and a stunning Derby hat are a must!

Garden Party
Casual is key. Emphasize your Derby hat with a colorful sundress or business-casual attire. Simple accessories and fashionable shoes make the perfect compliment.

Backyard Party
Here, comfort reigns supreme. Relaxed attire, like jeans, a downplayed sundress or even shorts, is perfectly acceptable.

What will the dress code for your party be? Visit vineyardvines.com for the Official Style of the Kentucky Derby and to get inspired!

His Derby Style

The Kentucky Derby provides a splendid excuse for men to get just as dressed up and decked out as the ladies! The modern Derby man possesses an unparalleled color palette. Sun-drenched, tropical colors in bold stripes or busy plaid and bright pastels steal the limelight. Although, if you want a more polished look, a classic navy or pinstripe blazer is always in style. But remember, gentlemen: The secret to looking great is confidence. Whatever you wear, wear it proud!

Party Fashion Tips

Brunch Event
Men, here’s your chance to steal the show! Go all out for a Brunch Event and sport a seersucker or three-piece tweed suit. Top it off with a fedora or bowler hat and ground your look with loafers.

Garden Party
You’ll want to be fashionable but casual. Slacks and a button-down shirt with tie is acceptable attire. Show your Derby spirit and break out some vibrant spring colors.

Backyard Party Relax and be comfortable. Jeans and even shorts are appropriate for a more informal affair. Class it up with a short-sleeve polo and official Derby ball cap.

Check out vineyardvines.com – the Official Style of the Kentucky Derby – for great fashion insights!

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