Fashion Preparation For The Kentucky Derby

The stage is set as the Who’s Who of horse racing royalty, celebrities and fans begin to arrive in Louisville, Kentucky for one of the most highly anticipated thrilling 2 minutes of professional horse racing.  For neophytes of this most southern tradition annual affair, fashion is just as important as the race itself.  For Americans, the Kentucky Derby is the opportunity to celebrate all things fashionably sophisticated in a bright, bold and showy spectacle.  There are a plenty of events to show off one’s style, surrounding the actual race day which include the Kentucky Oaks (a stakes race and charitable affair  held on the eve of the Kentucky derby), stables/horse farms and bourbon distillery tours, derby parties and nightlife activities to dance the night away.

Men attendees are expected to dress in flamboyant suits with patterns ranging from polka dots to checkers to  stripes topped off by bright bold or pastel colors and, of course, a dashing bowtie to complete the look.  For women, stylish comfort is key – it is a long day with changing weather elements.  Summer dresses, skirts and pantsuits with a shawl for cool temperatures are the norm with heeled or flat sandals; nonetheless, the hats are the stars of the show.    Local and national milliners host trunk shows at various hotels and boutiques to display and sell their pre-made hats for both men and women or perhaps consulting with individuals to build a custom hat.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature can sometimes put a bit of a damper on the day’s event and be warned – Churchill Down prohibits patrons bringing in umbrellas.  What woman wants to cover with a raincoat the gorgeous outfit selected specifically for the Derby?  Or even worse to be forced to purchase a one size fits all poncho to ruin an immaculate look.   To ensure that your Derby style is unspoiled by rain, there are several high end designers such as Burberry and Mui Mui, or a newer design house, Terra New York ( who have created brilliant transparent raincoats or capelets designed from rubberize, polyurethane, PVC or some other waterproof materials that are beautifully form fitting allowing your outfit to still be seen.

Rain boots, unless you are lucky to find the perfect match, may truly spoil your derby style. Yet, there are a number of designers’ wedged or heeled style boots that are extremely fashionable.  In addition, Columbia Rainwear designed a gorgeous rain shoe cover that is embellished with white closure snaps that will elevate your footwear while keeping your shoes protected from water and mud.  In researching rain hats (which would defeat the purpose of wearing a derby hat or fascinator), which fulfilled both functionality and style was hard to locate, yet water repellent rain scarves may be a better alternative that could be  lightly placed over your hat for protection.  A last suggestion would be to carry a handbag raincoat to keep your bag secure and dry from the rainwater.

The other important accessory for women Derby visitors is the all important handbag.   Keep in mind that anything larger than 12’ may be subjected to be searched.  Your handbag should be both beautiful and utilitarian to carry certain items to get you through the day.  Although the actual horserace culminates within a few minutes, attendees will spend a full day wining and dining with pre and post race activities.  Your selected handbag needs to be equipped with simple essentials to get you through the festivities:

–           Enough room to carry your cell phone, small make-up bag, sunscreen, keys, and your wallet (even better, slim down to a leather card wallet to hold your ID, a credit/debit card and back-up cash for emergencies).   Less is better to not having to haul a heavy handbag.

–          A cell phone battery charger to keep your phone charged for all the pictures and videos which will be taken throughout the day.

–          Your foldable raingear (most raingear will be equipped with its own pouch) that we mentioned above.

–          Foldable ballet flats (with a pouch, as well) which assuredly will be needed by the end of the day as you walk to your next destination.

Beau Satchelle offers several beautiful and luxurious options to complement your summer ensemble which include our Michelle or Regina Mini handbag collections that can work perfectly for your Derby outing, Garden Party or White Party affairs.  Since we build bespoke, committing to you owning a one-of-a-kind handbag from design to handcrafting takes approximately 4-6 weeks.  Expedited delivery is available upon request and first class standard shipping is free in the USA.  Complete our contact page or reach out to us at 313- 347-8462.   -AJ

 We welcome your comments below or on Twitter!

Hat Tip to photo contributors:

1280 Hvsbooth – Woman in Derby Hat

gene-divine 430971 – horses races
hanna-dickens 1072231 – horse portrait

Thank you to the following sites for content sources:

Derby Experience: The official partner of Churchill Downs –

Money, Inc. –


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