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Kentucky Derby Hats

Kentucky Derby Hats

The Kentucky Derby, also known as "The Run for the Roses," is not only a prestigious horse race but also a fashion spectacle, particularly known for the extravagant hats. These flamboyant headpieces have become an integral part of Derby culture, adding an extra layer of glamour and tradition to this favorite Southern event at Churchill Downs.  

In the late 19th century, when the Kentucky Derby first began, hats were primarily worn for practical purposes for sun protection.  Women wore bonnets or straw hats, while men opted for bowler hats.  As the Derby gained popularity, so did the fashion surrounding it.  Women adorned their hats with feathers, lace, jewels, and even small taxidermy animals, making bold fashion statements and vying for attention in the crowd.

In recent decades, the Kentucky Derby hat tradition has reached new heights of creativity and competition. Designers, milliners, and fashion enthusiasts alike eagerly anticipate the event as an opportunity to showcase their talent and innovation. The hats have become larger, more elaborate, and often reflect current fashion trends or social themes. From oversized floral creations to whimsical sculptures, there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to Derby hats!

 A fascinator sits on only one side of the head and is usually attached using a headband or hairpins. A formal hat sits on the head completely on its own and covers the entirety with its wide-brim. Both are 100% acceptable at Churchill Downs. 

The history of Kentucky Derby hats is a testament to the enduring allure of tradition and the power of fashion to captivate and inspire. From humble beginnings as sun shields to extravagant works of art, these hats have evolved alongside the Derby itself, becoming symbols of elegance, creativity, and the spirit of the South. As we eagerly anticipate each year's Derby, we can be sure that the tradition of extravagant hats will continue to flourish, adding a touch of magic to this celebrated event for generations to come.

Photo by NBC Sports, May 21, 2021

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