What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby

If you get the opportunity to attend the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, make sure you fit in with all the other stylishly dressed visitors. The fashion and style of the Derby are second to none, from big elaborate hats to designer dresses. Since you will be rubbing shoulders with millionaires, celebrities and international dignitaries, you should carefully think about what to wear to the Kentucky Derby. Even if you are just attending a Kentucky Derby party, wearing clothes that recall the Derby traditions will help set the atmosphere of the party.

Younger women generally wear bright spring dresses, with fun and flirty patterns such as floral prints or polka dots. Full skirts that reach the knees are a better choice than tight skirts or miniskirts. Many women find sleeveless sundresses with full skirts to be a comfortable and classy look. The Kentucky Derby is a semi-formal Southern event and the clothing should reflect understated elegance and the promise of a Southern spring day.

Accessories are a key component of the fashions of the Kentucky Derby. Women generally choose a signature piece that really pulls the whole outfit together, such as a crystal bracelet or an antique necklace. Shoes for women can be anything from sensible wedges to high heels, however, remember that you will be walking on grass near the track and heels can sink down in the earth. Climbing stairs of the grandstands can also be tricky in heels. Opt for dainty ballet slippers, strappy sandals or more sensible heels.

The sizes, shapes and colors of women's hats are as fun to look at as the horses themselves. There are feminine hats as well as sleek modern hats, and the Derby is one of the few places left where women can comfortably wear these kinds of hats. Most Derby hats are adorned with beads, feathers, silk flowers and decorative scarves. Some hats even sport whimsical additions such as small crystal horses, bells or stuffed birds. Choose a hat that fits with your dress and go for a more understated and classy look.

When men attend the Kentucky Derby or a Kentucky Derby party, almost anything goes as long as it sends the message of comfortable yet stylish attire. Some men embrace the Southern tradition of a seersucker suit, while others feel more comfortable in a traditional suit. Collared shirts, ties and slacks with a sports coat are also popular menswear at the Derby. At the very least, a collared shirt and slacks is the minimum level of dressing up that is acceptable for the Derby.

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