Favorite Things: Tip Sheet for Enjoying the Keeneland Spring Meet

Keeneland is the best.

Keeneland Paddock * Make the Most of Your Day at Keeneland
Image: Keeneland

‘Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love Churchill Downs and the Derby but the spring and fall meets at Keeneland are truly something special. It’s horse racing as it was intended to be and I love it. When I was in college at UK, the first Friday of the Spring Meet was like a city-wide holiday. If you had class, you blew it off (but why would you have class on Friday?); if you had work, you took a vacation day. Nothing felt more like the start of the season than the first warm, sunny day at Keeneland. And yes, I realize I just waxed poetic for entirely too long and got seriously nostalgic but that’s what Keeneland will do to you.

Keeneland’s Spring Meet kicks off this Friday April 8th and runs through April 29th and I’m already mentally planning a trip to Lexington for the fall meet when I’ll be able to fully-enjoy everything Keeneland has to offer. If you’re taking a day trip to Lexington this month (if you’re not, make plans to NOW – get your tickets here) or if you’ve never been to Keeneland, here’s a few tips to make the most of your day.

* Get there early. One of the best parts of a day at Keeneland is the tailgating. Get there early to snag a good parking spot, set up your spread and take advantage of the sun while sipping on a mimosa. Ladies, that means setting your alarm clock a little earlier than normal to get dolled up but I promise, it will be worth it.

Tailgating is a big part of the Keeneland experience and if you get there too late you’ll have to park farther away. And since you’re going to be doing a little tailgating you’re going to want to ….

* Pack a cooler, a couple chairs and a corn hole board. Bring whatever you and your crew like to sip on (I know everyone in Kentucky is supposed to say bourbon but I’m partial to champagne for an AM cocktail), some snacks and a couple chairs. And if you have a corn hole board, bring it. Or if you prefer can jam, that works too.

If you want to go all out – and some people definitely do – you can bring out an entire brunch spread (aka all the appetizers and dips). But if nothing else, bring the basics and you’ll be set. Oh and don’t forget some cups. If you opt to leave the food behind, their tailgate area known as “The Hill” has you covered with some awesome food trucks and live music.

* Bring Cash.

Run by the bank on your way into the track so you’re ready to go the minute you get to Keeneland. They have plenty of ATM’s at Keeneland but you wouldn’t want to miss a race because you had to run off to get out money. You’ll also want to bring cash so you can easily grab a snack or Bloody Mary.

You’re going to want to do a little betting, even if you have no idea what a superfecta is or how to read the program. Picking a winner and cheering them on is a big part of the fun and you’ll need cash to make your wager. Want to do a little preparation on how to make a wager? Check out this handy guide here or better yet, download the Keeneland Race Day App. With the app, you can plan out all your bets and have them all ready to go when you get up to the window. This eliminates all that betting anxiety that you can get while waiting in line.

Sail to Sable Pleated Skirt Dress | Fornash Nantucket Necklace | Longchamp Crossbody

* See the Entire Track. Keeneland is a gorgeous race track and even though it’s obviously seen updates and changes since it opened in 1936, it still retains that feel of southern charm and history. If it’s your first time, don’t get stuck in one area. Wander around from the paddock, to the track, grab a drink upstairs and watch a race from the view at the edge of the boxes.

It’s a beautiful place and every corner has a little piece of history. And if you can get lucky enough to get clubhouse tickets, don’t stay in its friendly confines the whole day (but you’re definitely going to have lines in there for the bathrooms, bar, food and of course, bets). Make sure to venture out at least once to see the paddock.

* Dress to Impress. A Day at Keeneland is truly a fashion event. Just like people used to get dressed up for airline travel, people used to get dressed up for the races. The trend may have died everywhere else but at Keeneland it still holds true. Even if you’re just buying a general admission ticket, you’re going to want to look good.

For the ladies, that can be anything from a preppy sundress to chic wide-leg pants and a fitted shell to a pencil skirt and blouse. Think in the style of Easter brunch or a wedding shower.

Take a cue from these looks styled straight from the Keeneland Shop with the help of my friend Lauren (had to call in the reserves at this point!)  – if you’re not quite sure what to wear you can get any of these looks before you head out to the track. But if you’ve already got your dress picked out make sure to stop in during your trip if for no other reason than to drool over all of their Longchamp goodies. They have one of the best selections in the region of Longchamp (this bag is SWOON WORTHY – I wanted to keep it SO bad), Sail to Sable, Vineyard Vines and Peter Millar.

Vineyard Vines Textured Cotton Pleated Dress | Longchamp Crossbody

Guys can also do a last minute swap out on their tie if they want some thing especially festive. If you’re on the hunt for a hat for the big race, you can also see milliner Christine A. Moore’s pieces first hand at their Milliners Corner.

Last but not least, if you’ve been on the hunt for a Barbour jacket but couldn’t find anywhere to check one out in person – stop in. They’ve got a ton of options. You can grab one and pick it on your way out to the car.

One last tip – wear comfortable shoes, especially if you have a general admission ticket (aka no seat). You’re going to be doing a lot of mingling, walking around and standing so you want shoes that will last you throughout the day. You might even want to slip a pair of flip-flops in your bag for the walk back to the car.

Sail to Sable Tweed Tunic Dress | Longchamp Reversible Clutch

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The Keeneland Spring Meet runs April 8 – 29th and there are events all throughout the month – including College Scholarship Day this Friday to Military Appreciation Day on April 24th – check out the calendar for a full round up of events.

Most importantly, have the best time. Even when Keeneland is rainy and cold (that usually only happens on the late October race days – so don’t worry), it’s one of my favorite places so if you get a sunny day make sure to soak up all the good times – oh and have a hot dog and beer for me!

Disclosure: Big thanks to the Keeneland for sponsoring this post. As always all thoughts, opinions and ramblings are my own.

Styling: DIY Pom-Pom Denim Shorts

cut-offs  cocktails
When it comes to getting crafty, I fall squarely on the aspirational side. If you follow me on pinterest, you may see lots of DIY inspiration but when it comes to actually making stuff – I really want to but rarely actually do. #aintnobodygottimeforthat

But then maternity leave happened and my DIY schedule opened up a little bit so I was game when Sauza asked me to get crafty and whip up a pair of jean shorts (or if you prefer, jorts). So I made myself a little margarita and got crafty (drinking and crafting may sound like a bad idea but it actually made me chill out on trying to get everything perfect and then getting discouraged). Lately I’ve been on a bit of a pom-pom kick (me and everyone else it seems) so I thought it would be fun to embellish a pair of shorts with a some of the preppy trim. I love lace embellished jean shorts so I figured pom-poms would be just as sweet. For once, I was right.

I’ll keep the writing short so we can get down to the directions but it’s worth noting that I took a little bit of a shortcut when it came to crafting my own jorts. Unlike this guy, I bought my jorts pre-made but it would be just as easy (and more economical) to make your own pair from an old pair of jeans (pick a pair that are a little too big now – they’ll make for the perfect loose/relaxed jean shorts).

Materials & Cost:
* White and Denim Cut-Off Jean Shorts from Target: $15 per pair x 2 =  $30 total
So I bought these two pairs in a size 9 thinking they would totally fit. Yeah, I was wrong. It’s going to be a couple more weeks before I actually get to wear these. My b.

* 2 Yards Each of White and Teal Small Pom-Pom Trim from Jo-Ann Fabric: $4.99/yard -x 4 yards = $20 total
There are two sizes of pom-pom trim. I went with the smaller, more petite version which I thought would be easier to work with and would be less likely to snag or get messed up. This one is similar but it will be easier to find in the store.

* One Pack of Stitch Witchery No-Sew Tape from Jo-Ann Fabrics: $3.99 total
* An Iron
* Wet Rag

DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (9)
Oh and a cocktail…obviously. For this easy at home margarita, I mixed Sauza Blue Tequila with Sparkling Limeade and garnished with berries. Delish!

Get Crafty:

Step One: Measure out the pom-pom trim to the leg opening on your shorts. Give yourself an extra half inch or inch JUST IN CASE. DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (8)Step Two: Get all your gear together on your ironing board. Turn on your iron to the Wool setting. Truth be told: my iron just has numbers (they go up to 6) so I set mine around 5. After a few rounds, the hotter temperature worked best. DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (7)Step Three:  Starting at the crotch, measure out enough of the Stitch Witchery tape for the back end of the jeans. I figured out after doing a couple pairs that starting at the seam in the crotch is the best way to hide the overlap.

Place the pom-pom trim over the tape. I used the stitching on the jeans as my guide but I would just make sure they were high enough to adhere to the jeans but low enough to hang out a little over the fringe. Don’t be worried about the tape that’s not attached to the fabrics messing up the jeans, it will melt away.
DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (6)Step Four: Get a damp rag and place it over the fabrics. I used a standard kitchen rag. I found that the adhesive worked best when the rag was really wet. After a few failed attempts, I ended up heading back to the sink for each round with the iron.

Hold the iron down on the fabrics for at least 10 seconds but more like 30 seconds. DO NOT run the iron back and forth instead pick it up and move it from section to section. Peel back the rag and check the trim. If it hasn’t fully adhered, reapply the rag and hit it with the iron again.
DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (5)Step Five: Continue on the front of the jean shorts using the same technique. Don’t forget to re-wet the rag in between each ironing session. Make sure to pull the leg taught to ensure there are no gaps or weird spacing issues.  DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (4)Step Six: Continue until the trim meets up. You can have it overlap a tiny bit to make sure there is total coverage. Also, if there are remenants of the stitch tape, wait until it cools are peel off.

Tip – If there are any sections that didn’t stick, just measure out a small piece of the Stitch Witchery, slip it under the trim, place the rag on top and go at it again with the iron. DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (3) Step Seven: Flip the shorts inside out and run the iron along the trim again. DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (2)Step Eight: Flip the shorts back, let them dry and VOILA! You’ve created an adorable pair of embellished pom-pom trim denim shorts. Enjoy! DIY Pom-pom Denim Shorts * Lou What Wear * DIY Jean Shorts (1)
cut-offsYou know you want to pin this.

So what do you guys think? I thought about possibly adding a little of the extra trim to the back pockets or the tiny front pocket but in the end, decided against it. I preferred the simple look but if you wanted to go all out, I think it would look cute especially on the white pair. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out – now I just need to fit into them (poor planning on my part).  Louisville gals, these would be perfect for Forescastle Festival next week.

If you decide to make a pair – let me know how it goes in the comments or tag me in a pic of them on Instagram.

Ever think you could make jorts with a cowboy? Here’s your chance to meet a man who crafts his heart out. Okay, so maybe he’s not the best DIY-er. But what he lacks in cutting skills, he more than makes up for when he makes the perfect Sauza-rita. Watch him in action for ideas for your next ladies’ night in: http://bit.ly/1juaLln.

Sauza® is a registered trademark of Tequila Sauza S. de R.L. de C.V. (“Tequila Sauza”) and is used with permission.  The information, comments and ideas expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Tequila Sauza, its affiliated companies or any of their directors or employees.  Tequila Sauza does not sponsor, authorize, or otherwise endorse this website.

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