The Kentucky Derby happens once a year in Louisville, Kentucky. The event has been taking place since 1875, on the first Saturday in May. If you’re so lucky to be viewing the race from a box seat, it’s well worth taking the time to plan your outfit. After all, when else do you have the occasion to wear a fabulous racing hat?
As a milliner who has made many racing hats worn at the Kentucky Derby, I’d say that there are two ways to start planning your outfit:
with the hat or
with the outfit
If you start with the hat, it means that you find the hat first, and then plan your outfit around the hat. Your dress, shoes, handbag and other accessories are only selected post hat. You’ll want to start with the hat and then coordinate the rest. I say coordinate because matchy-matchy is no longer an approved fashion choice. A good rule of thumb is the more elaborate your hat, the simpler the outfit. You don’t want the two competing.
If you start with the outfit then you might need to work with a milliner to find the right color and tone for your hat. Machine made hats come in standard colors: black, white, beige or navy. Traditional milliners know how to dye fabrics, straw, feathers, and other elements to achieve the perfect tone for your outfit.
Give yourself 3 months to get ready so you have plenty of time to shop and find exactly what you need.
The race started in the Victorian Era and the event still conjures up images of women wearing huge hats.
But that was then and this is now.
Take my advice and keep the hat size in mind if you are traveling to Churchill Downs by airplane. Unless you are flying on your private jet, airlines have become quite restrictive in what can be carried on. Many hat boxes don’t fit in the overhead bin. Placing them under the seat only works if you don’t need leg room.
Of course, if you absolutely, positively must have a fabulously large racing hat for the Kentucky Derby consider mailing it ahead.