Kentucky Derby 101: Tradition of Kentucky Derby Hats

Kentucky Derby hats have become the most notable tradition of the annual "Run for the Roses." While you sip your mint julep cocktail and cheer on your favorite thoroughbred for the "most exciting two minutes in sports" your women's Kentucky Derby hat lets you be creative with an exuberant flare.

kentucky derby hat kentucky derby hat kentucky derby hat

History of Kentucky Derby Hats

Dating back to the famous Royal Ascot in 1711, it was ordered that guests inside the Royal Enclosure followed a strict dress code including hats for women during these English horse races. Today, patrons of the popular Kentucky Derby, taking place the first Saturday of May each year, have been putting their fashion sense on parade since 1875. Derby Day guests enjoy strutting their stuff in fashionable Kentucky Derby headwear.

Celebrity Sightings

Churchill Downs brings together the hottest celebrities from actors to artists, athletes to authors for a few days of festivities. Last year's celebrity sightings included a variety of our favorite women dressed in their most fashionable Kentucky Derby hats.

Actress Gabrielle Union was seen in a stunning black hat that perfectly complimented her flirty blue sundress. Hugh Heffner walked the grounds with his three leading "Girls Next Door" Kendra, Bridgette, and Holly, wearing swanky hats for Derby Day. Finally rounding out the spotlight was former President Bill Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, in a lavishly designed platinum Kentucky Derby hat to compliment her regal style.

kentucky derby hat kentucky derby hat kentucky derby hat

What to Know Before You Go

As we look forward to the 2009 Kentucky Derby, we're excited to see a variety of fashionistas stepping out in exquisite designs. You, too, can look like the Hollywood elite by following a few simple rules:

  1. The most important characteristic of ladies Kentucky Derby hats is the hats' originality. Be sure to show your own personality in your Derby Day accessory.
  2. Let your hat steal the show by pairing your Derby Day headwear with a simple spring sundress, and more importantly that it matches your outfit.
  3. Be prepared for strong winds by securing your hats for the Kentucky Derby with hair pins.
  4. The show will go on, rain or shine, so be sure to purchase a Kentucky Derby hat that will stand through all weather. If you just can't part with a fine silk or other delicate fabric, take a large, clear plastic bag to protect your luxurious hat.

Your Hat Style Depends on your Seats

Kentucky Derby hats are stylish and elegant in the seated area of Churchill Downs. Women generally wear big-brim hats, traditional of the established southern belle. Each of these fashionable ladies Kentucky Derby hats may be adorned with silk flowers, ribbons and bows, to name a few. In the Infield, the hats take a more eccentric, exotic shape in a variety of shapes and sizes. As a Kentucky Derby hat is not required in the Infield, trendsetters typically use these accessories to express her own uniqueness.

kentucky derby hat kentucky derby hat kentucky derby hat

Get your own Kentucky Derby Hat

Some feel wearing stylish Kentucky Derby hats brings good luck, so be sure to start shopping early for your signature Derby day headwear. Peruse a vast collection which combines top designers like Kokin,  and Plaza Suite to name a few. The hat experts at Hats in the Belfry have put all of their favorites in one place for stress-free shopping of women's hats for the Kentucky Derby.