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Dos and Don'ts of Kentucky Derby Fashion

Updated: May 10, 2022

Choosing a Kentucky Derby outfit is just as important as picking the winning horse in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Whether you hope to visit Churchill Downs’ historic racetrack in the future or plan to attend a low-key party at home, you’ll want to look your best for the "Run for the Roses."

Either way, there are a few do’s and don’ts to dressing for Derby. Read below for our tips on how to steal the show with your Derby attire.

  • DO bring an extra pair of shoes.

Many women at the track bring fold-able flats in their purses so they can alternate between formal footwear and a more casual option throughout the day.

  • DON'T bring too small . . . or too large of a purse.

For security reasons, Churchill Downs prohibits backpacks and limits purse sizes to 12”x6”x12”. I advise curbing your fashionista instincts and opting for the largest crossbody purse you own.

  • DO wear a hat.

If your headgear is bold, it's usually best to go simple everywhere else. If your hat is more understated, take a bigger risk with your suit or dress.

  • DON'T break the bank.

Unique accessories can range anywhere from $15 to $800, and higher, don’t feel pressured to go beyond your means.

  • DO dress distinctly.

Men can be seen wearing everything from baby blue, pink, or mint. Women can go for cute spring dresses, sharp pantsuits, or full-length maxis. No length is too long, no pattern is too wild, and no color is off-limits on Derby Day.

  • DON'T take yourself too seriously.

It's easy to get wrapped up in picking the perfect Derby clothing and accessories, but don't let it overwhelm you. Above all, enjoy time with your friends, family, and the electric crowd at the track.

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