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Your Fashion & Party Guide to the Kentucky Derby


It’s time to bust out the fashion and fascinators for the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4. The Kentucky Derby, often dubbed "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports," is not just about the thrilling horse races; it's also a showcase of timeless fashion and Southern charm. Whether you’re lucky enough to attend the race in person or throwing a party at home, dressing up is as much a part of the experience as sipping mint juleps and cheering for your favorite horse. Here's a guide to help you dress to impress on Derby Day and host the horsey set at home.



The Kentucky Derby is known for its classic, sophisticated style with a Southern flair. And what to wear to the Kentucky Derby is a big question whether you’ll be there cheering your horse down the home stretch or watching at home with friends. Think feminine silhouettes, vibrant colors, and eye-catching accessories. Embrace the charm of the South by opting for timeless pieces that exude elegance and grace.


When selecting a dress to watch the Kentucky Derby, keep in mind the traditional Derby attire, which typically includes pastel hues, floral patterns, and lightweight fabrics. A knee-length or tea-length dress is the perfect choice, allowing you to stay cool and comfortable while still looking chic.


If you’re attending the actual race or even a garden event to celebrate race day, look for breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or lightweight silk to combat the warm Kentucky weather. Floral dresses are a popular choice and add a touch of whimsy to your ensemble. Alternatively, you can't go wrong with a classic sundress or a tailored sheath dress in a bold color.


No Derby outfit is complete without a statement hat or fascinator. In fact, the Kentucky Derby is as much about the headwear as it is about the horses! When choosing a hat or fascinator, let your personality shine through. Go for a wide-brimmed hat adorned with flowers, feathers, or bows for a traditional Southern look. If you prefer something more modern, a fascinator with a sculptural design or intricate detailing is sure to turn heads.

Remember to choose a hat or fascinator that complements your dress rather than overpowering it. Coordinate the colors and textures to create a cohesive look that's both stylish and sophisticated.


When it comes to shoes and accessories, choose pieces that enhance your overall look without stealing the spotlight. A pair of strappy sandals or wedges in a neutral shade will keep you comfortable while adding a touch of sophistication to your outfit. Select the heel-type for the surface too, heels are great if you’re trotting around your tiled floor at home, but if it’s a garden party or the racecourse you’ll want wedges to avoid sinking into the grass.


As for jewelry, keep it simple and understated. A delicate necklace, stud earrings, and a stack of bangles will add just the right amount of sparkle without overpowering your ensemble.



Complete your Derby look with polished hair and makeup. Try soft, romantic curls or an elegant updo to complement your hat or fascinator. For makeup, keep it fresh and natural with a rosy flush on the cheeks, a swipe of mascara, and a bold lip in a flattering shade.



Set the mood by decorating your space with traditional Derby elements such as horse racing paraphernalia, jockey silks, horseshoes, and, of course, plenty of roses (the official flower of the Kentucky Derby). Incorporate the Derby's signature colors of pink, black, and white into your decorations and table settings for a cohesive look.

Encourage guests to dress in their Derby best, complete with flamboyant hats and dapper attire. Consider hosting a best-dressed contest to add an extra element of fun and competition to the party.



No Kentucky Derby party would be complete without classic Southern fare and refreshing mint juleps. Serve up iconic dishes such as hot browns, Kentucky bourbon balls, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and bourbon-glazed ham.

Don't forget to stock up on plenty of mint julep ingredients, including Kentucky bourbon, fresh mint leaves, sugar, and crushed ice. You can even make a virgin julep for non-drinkers and kids. Consider setting up a DIY mint julep bar where guests can customize their drinks with different garnishes and syrups.

For dessert, offer a selection of Derby-themed treats such as pecan pie, Derby pie (a chocolate and walnut tart), or bourbon-infused cupcakes.


Capture the thrill of the Kentucky Derby by setting up a betting station where guests can place friendly wagers on the race. You don’t even need real money. Or you can opt for quarters per bet. Regardless of if you use real or faux funds, you can provide betting slips, pencils, and a chalkboard or poster displaying the names of the competing horses, their odds, and post positions.

Consider organizing a friendly betting pool or sweepstake, where guests can buy into the pool and draw a random horse to root for. Offer prizes for the guests whose horses finish in the top three positions, such as Derby-themed gift baskets or bottles of Kentucky bourbon.

Enhance the viewing experience by streaming the Kentucky Derby live on a big screen TV or projector. Encourage guests to gather around and cheer on their chosen horses as they race for the finish line.

By incorporating these tips into your Kentucky Derby party planning, you'll create an unforgettable event that captures the spirit and excitement of the iconic race day. So gather your friends and family, don your fanciest hats, and get ready to celebrate the Kentucky Derby in style!