The 2014 Kentucky Derby is right around the corner, and we’re so excited to see celebs, socialites, and straight up Southern belles suit up to turn up. Elaborate hats are just part of mastering the Kentucky Derby’s signature style. Pastel, seersucker, florals, brights, and old world class are the name of the game. Sure, you’ll be betting on horses, but it’s not like you’ll actually have to touch that stallion. Showcasing your least practical fashion at the Kentucky Derby is a time honored American tradition. Think My Fair Lady, not National Velvet.
From the very beginning, class and lineage shaped the Kentucky Derby. There are two main seating areas for the Kentucky Derby: infield and Millionaires row. Infield tickets are cheap, close to the track, and tough to see from. Millionaires row is what you think of when you imagine attending the Kentucky Derby: sophisticated patrons dressed in pale finery, mint juleps, and refined hors d’oeuvres. In early years of The Kentucky Derby, infield spectators dressed in formal attire similar (but rarely equal) to the outfits on Millionaires Row. Now the infield is a modern moshpit filled with casual spectators in every day attire like t-shirts and shorts. Thankfully time hasn’t changed the traditional Derby opulence of fashion on Millionaires Row.
The most common style of hat worn by women to the Kentucky Derby is a wide-brimmed, “Southern Belle” inspired hat decorated with flowers, feathers, bows and ribbons of any and every color.Derby veterans know that selecting a hat is just part of successful accessorization. How you wear it is just as important. No matter how cute your hat is, if it’s worn incorrectly, you’ll look silly and feed self conscious. Prevent mishaps beforehand by securing your hat with hat pins or adding sizers: small padded bands set on the inside rim. After your hat is set in place, resist the temptation to touch or tweak it- you’ll only end up knocking your precious hat askew.
Placement of your hat is also important; Hats should sit 1 to 2 inches above your ears. If a hat is placed too far back on your head, the people you’re facing will miss out on it’s full glory. for the winning jockey and horse to be festooned with a lush garland of red roses.
Tomboys, skatergirls, and androgynous fashionistas be warned: dresses are basically mandatory for women attending The Kentucky Derby. Don’t fight it; accept it. Your black jeans can take a break for just one day. Take The Kentucky Derby as an opportunity to dress like the Southern Lady you never were, and throw yourself into the chance to dress outside your comfort zone. Like Halloween in pastel.
Another important aspect of dressing for the Kentucky Derby is weather. Louisville is currently being soaked in rain, and meteorologists predict that the watery weather will continue through Oaks Day on Friday. Miraculously, Saturday’s Derby day is predicted to see clear skies and mild temperatures. Derby Day should be cloudy but clear with a high of 59 degrees and a low of 43 degrees.
Take this into account by adding layers over your sundress, or even a luxurious fur. One highlight of venturing into the deep South is the dearth of PETA activists scampering about with red paint. Take the opportunity to let your inner Cruella roar. Sochi hosts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are hosting the 2014 Kentucky Derby so shy not from flamboyance.
If you’re wildly assembling a last minute Kentucky Derby look, take a deep breath and make yourself a pre-Derby mint julep. These celebrity Kentucky Derby Do’s and Don’ts will inspire you.
DO only sit on Millionaires Row; no self-respecting it-girl would be caught dead infield.
DON’T think you’re too cool to wear a big ridiculous hat; you aren’t, and you’ll feel tragic if you attend the Kentucky Derby sans headwear.
DO bring a man so you gamble with his money and steal his suit jacket.
DON’T underestimate the alcohol content of mint juleps. Your typical genteel Southern lady has the alcohol tolerance of a Sumo wrestler and would love nothing more than to watch Northerners vomit.
DO plan ahead for the after party. You wouldn’t want to get stuck dancing with a jort-claud trucker in some dingy Kentucky dive. Although that would be the place to get wasted.
DON’T mistake “bless your heart” for a compliment. Thats actually Southern for “you idiot”.