How To Shine on Derby Day


Stumped for ideas what to wear to the derby party?  If you don’t have an outfit yet, there is still a bit of time to shop for a knockout look.  Derby newbies might ask, “What do I look for first, the hat or the dress?”  It’s like the chicken or the egg question.  It can go either way but it might be easier to start with the hat.  You can make your own but if you´re hat challenged, first thought would be to head out to a department store and try out ones they stocked for the season.  But, you want your hat to stand out in the sea of hats on derby day.   You can look for unique and even vintage pieces from the boutiques we have in Denver.  Online shopping is also an option where you may find a one of a kind hat that could be a showstopper.

It’s that time again when spring is in the air and one of the most anticipated events of the year is almost here, the Kentucky Derby!  Not all of us can make it to Churchill Downs but luckily we have the Denver Derby Party happening on May 6th at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.  This is the perfect opportunity for us to wear hats and dress up like proper ladies and gentlemen with a modern twist and our own personal flair.   We’ll also party in style for a good cause benefiting the Sean “Ranch” Lough Memorial Scholarship.


But, what is a derby hat or a fascinator?  A derby hat conjures up images of a large ladies hat with plumage but, many people may not be familiar with a fascinator.   It is more of an accessory that is mounted on a headband or secured by a comb, hair clip or elastic band. It may be smaller than a derby hat but, that doesn’t mean it lacks personality.  Hats and fascinators are usually made with sinamay fibers, feathers, floral accents, organza, other pliable materials or fabrics.  If you’re a beginner to wearing hats this might be a great way to start.   You won’t have to air kiss your friends like you would if you were wearing a huge derby hat.

After you find your hat, you can look in your closet first to see if you have a fabulous dress that you haven’t worn yet and works with your chosen hat.  You can also do what Princess Catherine does, wear a favorite dress again!  If none of these work, your next option is to go shopping!  Sunday’s best would have been a good guide but these days that can be a bit casual.  So, it’s better to think Easter Sunday’s best wearing a pretty dress.  There is a wide selection of what you can wear, from solid pastels, bold colors, florals, graphic or color blocked.  Choose an outfit that works with your body type and you’ll be both pretty and confident in your look.  I’ve seen ladies in rompers and jumpsuits but personally, I like wearing a dress.   The dress could be midi, knee length, sheath or  A line silhouette.   Don’t forget to bring your hat or fascinator when you go shopping , you will need it to find the dress that is perfect for it.  My personal choice is to wear fascinators with any silhouette but usually fitted dresses with big derby hats.

Derby Day is a very social event so most likely you’ll be on your feet on a grass lawn like the DPAC Sculpture Garden for several hours.  You’ll be really cute with your dress and hat but having achy feet is something you don’t want on the day.  You can wear heels if you like but I learned the hard way that wearing stilettos on a lawn don’t work.  I went to my first derby day race at the Dubai World Cup and was on tippy toes most of the afternoon because my heels kept sinking into the grass.  After that, I stuck to kitten heels and wedges.  Dressy sandals, slides or block heels are also great options for a day out like this.

At this stage, your outfit is almost complete but, you need accessories to tie the look together.  Pearl studs, tasteful diamond studs or other suitable jewelry would be lovely and will let your hat shine.  Nail art can be a fun addition to your look too.  The ladies at GlamourBar can surely do one that can go with your outfit.

On Derby Day, add a cute purse, check your hair and makeup and you’re ready to party.  Have fun, enjoy those mint juleps and the horse races on the jumbo screens.  Don’t forget to wear a smile and voila! You’re derby perfect!