Turning Over New Leaf

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Kentucky Derby Hats?


Yesterday, my wife and I attended a Kentucky Derby party at a fancy local St. Augustine hotel built by billionaire, Henry Flagler, at the beginning of the last century. The 2012 event proved to be a great time, and of course, we congratulate the winner, I'll Have Another and his rookie jockey, Mario Gutierrez. But there is more to the race than the victory.

When Aristides crossed the finish line on May 17, 1875, he became the first Kentucky Derby winner, and a new era had begun. No, it was not only the horse race that launched the 138-year tradition, but also ladies’ fashion hat attire.

In the 19th century, it was virtually a necessity for men and women to dress suitably for special occasions and outdoor events. This meant that hats were required, especially for women, since attending an event without one would have been scandalous.

As the popularity of the Derby grew, men continued to wear the traditional fedora, but women began to have more fun with their fashion choices. To stand out among the spectators, hats were designed with flamboyant embellishments. The ladies donned extra wide brims, with bright vibrant colors (The wide brims doubled as protection from the sun and its damaging UV rays affecting the face, neck, and shoulders). Floral arrangements, ribbons, and feathers became the norm.

Today, the Kentucky Derby sets the standard for high fashion and sophistication.

The 138th Kentucky Derby Race



  1. It sounds like a most lovely time! As for hats, I wish it were more of a common thing to see women in lovely hats, (not ball caps) but like you still see every where in England! To live where women fell naked with a hat on their head, that would be such fun! Don't you agree?

  2. Hi JJ .. glad you had a great day out .. and as long as the wind doesn't blow, or the rain tip down - the ladies look fantastic ...

    Some of the hats we have on show here are incredible -

    Sounds a fun day - and interesting to hear it's 138 years old .. cheers Hilary

  3. What fun! Wish I could wear hats (my head and hair are too big and hats on me just don't look right).
    Hope you're having a great week JJ!!
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  4. Karen S: I believe I agree with all of those observations.

    Hilary: It was a great deal of fun, and now my wife is ready for Churchill Downs next year.

    Miriam: The week is shaping up nicely. Thank you.

  5. Good to see that people are still having fun with hats. I remember Easter bonnets and hats. And of course, all the hats at Prince William's wedding! I actually attended the Kentucky Derby once as a little girl. I remember the horses, but not the hats!

  6. Galen: Oh yes. In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it!

  7. All i wanna know is.... Did ya back the winner?

  8. Whitesnake: 2nd place. I didn't strike it rich, but I paid for the day.

  9. I have a very small head and the only hats that fit me are in the children's department. The Derby race takes so little time, that the entire event is really all about the hats.

  10. Judie: Can I say no to my bride? She wants to wear a hat. How much can a hat and a trip to the Derby cost? I think I'll get another job.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.