On the first Saturday of May, I will be attending my 6th Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. They say it’s the most exciting two minutes in sports.....I say it’s everything leading up to the race that makes it an event you don’t want to miss.
I’ll be honest.....growing up in Madison, WI, I did not know much about the Kentucky Derby, and I had never even heard of the Kentucky Oaks (The Friday before the Derby when 3 year old Fillies run the featured race). I wasn’t quite ready for my first trip to the Derby back in 2008, when I bought a single, simple black hat from Macy’s to wear for both the Oaks and Derby day.
Since my “rookie” year in 2008......I’ve stepped up my game big time! This year I have planned and perfected for months so that I have just the right dress with the most fabulous custom-made hat to go with it. And one hat just isn’t enough for two straight days of racing.....😉Thank you Dee’s you never disappoint.
So whether you are headed off to your first Derby this year, or it is just on your Bucket List for now....here’s what to expect during Derby.
You will not believe the Facinators and Hats you’ll witness in just two days in Louisville. I mean when or where do you get a better opportunity to go all out with a show stopping hat, exquisitely decorated with netting, flowers, and/or feathers. Many of the men choose to go with a very dapper look wearing an old school straw boater hat or fedora as well.
“Dress like a lady...or gentleman”
There’s usually some exceptions in the “infield” (the grassy area inside the oval track frequented by college students), but the majority of those in attendance take pride in showing off their “Sunday best.” Women are in classic spring dresses, and men are dressed in nice shirts and seersucker jackets. Coming dressed to the nines is the correct Derby attire.
“It’s all in the details”
Colorful neckties and bow ties are standard amongst men, and I personally favor when they are impeccably paired with a matching pocket square. Having just the right accessories can complete your look. Personally, I tend to stay away from big earrings while wearing a hat and to quote Jackie Kennedy “Pearls are always appropriate.” Don’t forget to looked polished with a mani and pedi. The right shade of lipstick, and amazing lashes will only enhance your eyes with your hat.
“Shoe Game Strong”
The Horses aren’t the only ones who have to have on the right shoes. This has been challenging over the years because it’s a long day on your feet. In my opinion, a heel is an absolute must, but have a pair of your favorite Tory Burch flats or flip flops stashed in your purse to throw on at the end of the day.....your feet will thank you.
“In the Bag”
I prefer bringing a straw or fabric handbag/clutch to finish off a spring inspired look. I always bring my Tory Burch tote to throw in my clutch, flats, and any little necessity a lady needs to look her best for a day at the races. You can always leave that at your seats.
“When in Rome”
....or at Churchill Downs 😉..... It’s always acceptable to toast the post time of the first race with a mimosa or bloody Mary. The front runner for cocktails to have at the races, however, will always be a Mint Julep or a Lilly. There is an old Kentucky proverb that says “keep your friends close & your bourbon closer.”
“All bets are NOT off”
When betting on the races it’s essential to know whether you want your horse to Win, Place, or Show (ie. finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd). Selecting the winning horse of the Kentucky Derby definitely adds to the fun. When it comes to picking winners, I like picking horses based on their name, but friends of mine swear by picking them by the color of their silks or by their coat color.
To quote the American author Irvin S. Cobb “Until you go to the Kentucky Derby with your own eyes, behold the Derby, you ain’t never been nowhere and you ain’t ever seen nothing.” So if you are not counting down the days to Derby weekend like I am.....well then I guess as any good southern woman would say.....”Bless your heart.” 🐎👒👗👠🥃