Why Women Wear Fancy Hats to the Kentucky Derby

The people at William and Kate’s nuptials got plenty of attention for their choice of spectacular headwear, but the royal wedding isn’t the only affair known for its show of wild hats. The colorful, flashy, hats that women wear at the Kentucky Derby are a big part of the yearly horse race’s tradition — and the bigger, the better.

There isn’t a lot of history on the hats, but theory has it that when the derby was first brought to Kentucky, it was supposed to be a social affair.

The folks in charge went around to all the women’s clubs in town and invited the women to dress up in their finest to come to the Derby.

Over the years, the hat tradition has remained for women and remains a Kentucky Derby staple. Although women aren’t forced to wear a hat to the races, plenty do. One commonplace theme among Kentucky Derby hats is roses. Because the race is called the “run for the roses,” the champion horse gets a blanket of over of 500 blossoms.

The Kentucky Derby is every woman’s opportunity to express her inner Scarlett O’Hara. On the Kentucky Derby’s website, there are suggestions for women’s attire. The gem of a belle’s ensemble? A outstanding hat.

If the Derby hats remind you of something you’ve seen on the queen, or the princess, it because

The creator of the Kentucky Derby modeled the event after European-style racing affairs like the Royal Ascot, which requires full morning dress for men and hats for women.

When the Kentucky Derby started in 1875, both British and American women wanted to wear their best to the races. In those days, that most definitely included a hat. While statement headwear is usually not necessary formal attire today, the tradition remains at the Kentucky Derby.

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