At the Kentucky Derby there are two things that must be attendance before the gates open, horses and hats. That’s right, it’s just as important to remember your hat for the derby as it is for the jockey’s to remember their horses.
The Kentucky Derby was modeled after European-style racing events such as the Epsom Derby in England. Meriwether Lewis Clark started the Kentucky Derby in hopes to hold an event with the same elegant, high-class standards in America.
Even though hats have been a staple at the derby for years now, it is clear that they have become more than an accessory. They are now a statement. Each year Kentucky Derby fashion seems to get bigger, brighter and bolder.
“If you don’t wear a hat to the Kentucky Derby you’ll feel like the woman who wears jeans to a little black dress party,” Sheila Nobles of C.K. Nobles, the official millinery designer for the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs told Southern Living.
As the 2016 Kentucky Derby rounds the corner, here’s look back at 13 unique, vibrant and jaw-dropping hats that have graced Churchill Downs.
The Kentucky Derby is held every year the first weekend in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. The event caps off the two-week long Kentucky Derby Festival. 2016 will mark the derby’s 142nd year.