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A Custom Kentucky Derby Hat Often Gets as Much Attention on Derby Day as the Race Itself

In Kentucky’s famous “run for the roses,” horses are handicapped with weight in an attempt to even the odds in this famous competition which attempts to see which 3-year-old Thoroughbred race horse is the fastest. There are no measures available to even the playing field in the other prime competition taking place on Derby day at Churchill Downs, however. What competition is this? Why it’s the highly competitive albeit unofficial rivalry that takes place between the scores of wealthy, Mint Julep-wielding wives, mothers, sisters, owners, and other women who materialize on Derby Day to take part in race-day culture by attempting to wear the most unusual, attention-getting Custom Kentucky Derby hat.

It’s a sight one must see to believe. These are not the demure pillboxes that your grandmother perhaps once wore to church, along with her string of pearls and little white gloves. Nor do they serve any real function other than to possibly shade the wearer’s eyes as the horses thunder down the homestretch. No, when you think of derby hats, think peacock plumage, and you’ll be on the right path. Think LARGE, unexpected, colorful, ornate, hilarious, beautiful, sometimes ridiculous, delightful, no-holds-barred attention-grabbing Derby hats. Just as a woman’s thoughts turn to her wedding gown the moment the engagement diamond is firmly on her finger, women the world over spend the entire year planning the hat they will wear come the first Saturday in May in Kentucky.

If you’ve not had the opportunity to watch a Kentucky Derby in recent years, you should. It’s utterly beautiful. The groomed racetrack is beautiful, as are the twin spires, the lean, gleaming, muscled horses, and of course, the women and their elaborate hats. The women are as much on show as the horses, in their fashionable dresses, sporting gloves and elaborate manicures, their mouths bright slashes of color and the hats … oh, honey, the hats…. Still your beating heart and get a gander at those hats. Chances are, you’ll be rendered speechless, for unless you’re in the business of haberdashery yourself, you’ll lack the vocabulary to communicate the outrageous individualism and unbridled creativity you’ll observe, with each hat more flamboyant than the last. Pour yourself a Mint Julep and enjoy the occasion!