by Renae Virata
I miss the South! The semi-formal attire that is required of many events was always such a great opportunity to get a little “gussied up”. The 138th Kentucky Derby, taking place May 5 this year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, is probably one of the best known Southern events requiring such a refined look – if you go to a Derby party or have reserved-seating tickets (if not, celebrate in Louisville at the famed infield party!). Take some cues from the actual event to plan your fabulous look for a Derby-themed party.
Several opportunities to look good and have fun happen at the Derby every year. There’s the Kentucky Oaks race on Friday; the casual, outdoor, festival-like party in the infield or inside of the track; and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Tickets to the Oaks and Derby are limited and pricey while the infield party tickets are affordable and unlimited.
For a traditional look, don a bright, floral-print dress in a simple sheath or garden-party shape. A brightly colored cardigan will add some sunshine to a potentially rainy day (looks like a chance of thunderstorms this year!). To balance all the bright colors, a set of pearls and your favorite nude or taupe pumps work perfectly. Finally, don’t forget your big hat! Derby is known for the big hats a la Ascot, so find something beautiful and memorable to complement your outfit.
If you’d like to go down a more modern route, try a lovely but edgy pantsuit. It may rain, so light colors may not work well, but if you’d like to take a chance, opt for a slim, cream pantsuit. Be sure that you alter your pants so that the hem of each leg hits just over your instep. The last thing you want to do at a Southern celebration like this is look “improper”! A slim, bright-colored tank with a low neck or a slim-fitting blouse in a fun print would be a great complement to a solid-colored suit. A simple drop pendant necklace, a cuff bracelet, rocking bright heels and, of course, your hat, put the exclamation point on your look.
Derby Outfit Must-Haves
- Heels or wedges – Heels are a South party staple, so make sure you wear your best. If you actually go to Derby, wedges may be best in case you find yourself on the grass at some point.
- Umbrella – In case it (God forbids) rains!
- Flip-flops – Stash some fancy flip-flips in your purse. You’ll be sanding a lot and will probably walk a bit, so something firm, comfy and flat will be your godsend at the end of a long day.
- Bright colors – It’s all about enjoying the sunshine, the race and standing out amongst the crowd.
- A great bag – Like your shoes, they can be an “extra” exclamation point to your outfit. For a super bright outfit, try another, complementary bright or opt for a neutral. Break up a monotone outfit with something bright, patterned or textured. Clutches are wonderful for day.
- Accessories – Pearls are the classic, but try statement earrings OR a chunky precious-stone necklace (never both!).
Finally, HAVE FUN! The best accessories for any outfit are a genuinely happy smile on your face and a good attitude!