The Kentucky Derby Fashion Guide |

The Derby Hat

Whether you’re in the infield or a box in Millionaire’s Row, hats are a must at the Derby. They can be simple or grandiose, custom-made or off the rack, just make sure to have one perched atop your head.

“If you don’t wear a hat to the Kentucky Derby,” says Sheila Nobles of C.K. Nobles, the official millinery designer for the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, “you’ll feel like the woman who wears jeans to a little black dress party.”

Trend Alert: This year look for the fascinator, a hot new trend from across the pond, to be all the rage at Churchill Downs. Popularized  by royal bride Kate Middleton, these chic, dainty headpieces are made from a simple woven disc topped with feathers and netting and secured in your hair with a comb. One more reason to love a fascinator—they won’t leave you with dreaded hat hair at the end of the day.

The Dress

Like hats, dresses are a given at the Derby. But the interpretation can vary, with attendees sporting everything from strapless sundresses to more formal day suits. Your best bet is to keep the silhouette simple, as to not detract from your exquisite hat. And remember to think in terms of layers. The first Saturday in May has seen everything from snowfall to 80-degree scorchers at Churchill Downs.

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