I wouldn’t think that the Kentucky Derby has a dress code. I never noticed one if they did. And I go back to the days when people used to shimmie up the flagpole naked in the infield. Granted that was a very long time ago. Notwithstanding that, there are so many outrageous outfits there is definitely not a dress code or a taste code for that matter!
So this headline from Bustle “Does The Kentucky Derby Have A Dress Code?” caught my attention. When I clicked the link my eyes sparkled when I saw the line underneath it which read, “Here’s the History of All Those Hats“. I am a huge hat lover.
Bustle writer Hayli Good reports:
For years, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky (which, besides the Derby, is best known as J.Law’s and Diane Sawyer’s hometown), has been associated with pastel dress clothes and interesting hats, ranging from classic styles to downright silly. And this style is seen on both men and women, though their hats and dress clothes tend to differ. But those aren’t the only costume attendees have to wear.
I spoke with Sara Brown Meehan, the director of lifestyle communications for Churchill Downs, who explained the technical dress code at the Derby and how the style changes per men and women. She says the pseudo-dress code actually goes back to when Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark founded the racetrack in 1874. According to Meehan, Clark’s inspiration for the Kentucky Derby came from the Epsom Derby in England. There, not only did he experience the obvious horse race, but he saw how the men and women dressed for the occasion. He wanted an event like that in the United States, too.
Meehan explains that Clark marketed the Derby as a place for everyone — celebrities and non — to come display the latest fashions, which, as in England, included hats. Back then, according to Meehan, it was actually indecent if women showed up to the Kentucky Derby not wearing a hat. And you don’t dare expose your indecency to the people of Kentucky.
Ultimately, Meehan says the Derby does not have a dress code, unless you are a premium member, which includes select seating, and a cost of an extra many thousands of dollars.
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