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Did you ever wonder why we wear elaborate hats to the Kentucky Derby? Well, the history of the Kentucky Derby goes back to the Derby Stakes in Britain, known here in the States as the Epsom Derby. The Epsom Derby was first run in 1780 and is the highest-purse horse race in Britain.
In 1873, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. visited Europe, taking in the Epsom Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. He returned home to Louisville and organized the race now known as the Kentucky Derby, looking toward these races for inspiration for track design, race length and other details. When the Kentucky Derby began in 1875, Kentucky ladies wore their finest to the races, just as their British counterparts did. Of course, in those days, finery included a chapeau, and the tradition stuck.
These days, a Derby Hat is the first thing most ladies look for when they make place for the big race. Kate Welsh, co-owner of The Hat Girls, the Official Hat Designers of the Kentucky Derby Festival, says "Sixty percent of our business is custom work, which wasn’t in our original business plan. We find that, typically, a lady wants to pick out her clothes around the hat. Others want a custom design made from dresses they’ve already picked out."
Of course, there's a fine line between a dramatic hat and one that's too comfortable for race day wear. Kate Welsh says "We’re very honest with customers about what works for them. People try the hats on, and they don’t always realize that an adjustable hat brim only helps them so much. As designers, we try to limit how many feathers or sequins we add to the hat so thatit’s not sagging down into the customer’s face."
Rachel Bell, Ms. Welsh's Hat Girls partner, notes that their designs do strike a balance between practicality and flair. "But, at the same time, the hat usually is the focal point of the outfit."
Whether your preferred look is a practical fascinator or a show-stopping chapeau, you can thank the Derby's English roots -- and especially Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr's trip to Epsom -- for the tradition of Kentucky Derby Hats.
If y'all are anything like me, you're loving all things equestrian and mint julep this spring. I mean, Derby is basically Louisville's own three-week carnival season; why shouldn't we dress like it?
A few of y'all asked about the Draper James Horseshoe Key Fob I posted on Instagram yesterday. I love to switch out fobs, or "charms," as I like to think of them, on my bag to keep it fresh with the season. The horseshoe is perfect for Derby time. You can find it here, and there are also some great new Lexington and Kentucky-themed products that have dropped on the Draper James site this morning. I seriously want them all! (Click here, and you'll receive $20 off your Draper James online order!)
It's feeling like a lucky week! Follow Herkentucky on IG this week for betting tips from legendary jockey @brothers.donna, the first look at @thesummitatfritzfarm, and the @derbymuseum Gala! 🐎🐎🐎 . . . . #kentuckyderby #kentuckyblogger #blogger #sharelouisville #lillypulitzer #draperjames #fblogger #summitatfritzfarm #sharelouisville #sharethelex
These Lexington Cocktail Napkins would be the perfect hostess gift for a Lexingtonian or a Lexington expatriate who misses home!
And how perfect are these mint julep paper coasters for a Derby party?
Happy week before Derby week, y'all!
(This post contains affiliate links.)
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And this tee is perfect for low-key Derby week festivities.
This hat would be so fun for Thurby.
I love the colors on this dress. It'll be so great for summer soirees.
And I may even love the skirt more!
Even better? Click this link for $20 off your next Draper James order. And look for Draper James opening soon at the Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington!!
(This post contains affiliate links; HerKentucky receives a nominal commission on every product link you click in this post. All opinions are my own!)
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