Style Spotting: Kentucky Derby 142

We made it to the finish line of another Kentucky Derby season. I am definitely not one to wish Derby away but putting it in the rear view means I’m one day closer to not being pregnant anymore (May 17 can’t come soon enough). Derby + Mother’s Day were the last milestones on the calendar before this due date so now I’m officially in waiting mode.

It wasn’t quite the same as last year’s Derby madness – both here on the blog (sorry for not getting a style series together, promise to get it together next year) and at work (ducked out of party/gala duties) so I’m already looking forward to Kentucky Derby 143. But enough of all that nonsense, let’s talk Derby one more time before next spring.

Want to know what locals and real girls and guys ACTUALLY wear to Derby, this post is for you. I get a little annoyed when the national media think throwing on a straw beach hat means you’re Derby-ready. It doesn’t. We all know that your hat has to be more than just something you can wear on a beach vacation. And I love that Churchill Downs and Derby sponsors bring in national bloggers and stars to shine a little light on Louisville and Derby but sometimes the looks don’t line-up with what Derby is really all about.

So here’s a look at what locals (including yours truly at 39 weeks) wore to Kentucky Derby 142 as well as some snaps from Kentucky Oaks 142. This is always one of my favorite posts of the year with a big thank you going out to all the gals that send in/tag me in pictures. I’ll update this a few times throughout the next couple days so if you want to get your picture added to the round-up, email it to me ( or tag me (@louwhatwear).

Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Shannon Kessler (Owner of Primp Salon) and Brittany Swan at Kentucky Oaks 142
Taylor Collins, Madison Eberenz, Erica Parsley and Kathryn Denbow
Taylor Collins, Madison Eberenz, Erica Parsley and Kathryn Denbow
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Steve and Courtney Nassau at Kentucky Oaks 142
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Will Rice, Frankie Hilbert, Matt Case, Kevin McFarland, Nissan Gabay and Joey Wagner at Kentucky Oaks 142
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Grace Wainwright – A Southern Drawl – Judging the Kentucky Oaks Longines Fashion Contest
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Dustin Amrine and Joey Zembrodt at the Hermitage Derby Toast presented by Vanity Fair
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Kyle Pierron, Larkin Walker, Lauren Cox and Kelsey Chapin
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Bridget Peake Dewson, Sara Ivens Moffett and Marigny Johnson Bostock
Hats by The Mysterious Rack
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Dan and Shannon Kessler (Owner of Primp Salon)
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Andy Cregg, Jackie Coakley, Micaela and Mike Skura
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Drew and I + Kristin and John Esham
Hat by Headcandi + Dress is BCBG from Rent the Runway
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Michael Getz, Erin Bailey, Morgan Getz and Taylor Parker – Bacardi House at Kentucky Derby 142
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Denise Sohm and Baili Taylor
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Lee Wilkinson Receveur and Claire Tidmore
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Lindsey Brodsky – Hat by Alison Thiel
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Amanda – @realitytvstar
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Karen Waller and friend at Thurby
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Sara Ivens Moffet and friends before Kentucky Derby 142
Kentucky Derby 142 * Lou What Wear * What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby
Jana Metcalf and Eric Reader
Hat by Jana’s Hat Box
Jessica Sullivan, Moira Dugan, Kathryn Denbow, Alison Denbow, Taylor Collins, Liz Harper, Madison Eberenz
Kelley Moore at her very first Kentucky Derby!
Tara Anderson and Friends
Tara Anderson and Friends
Alison Yeager, Stephanie and Max Hannum

Kentucky Derby: Derby Day Purse Essentials

Derby is only days away. As you check off those final to-do’s for the big race one thing you might want to think about is what to pack in your purse. Derby Day is long and you’re going to want to be prepared for anything it throws at you (literally – there’s a chance something could get thrown at you, especially if you’re going to the infield).

Yesterday Angie Fenton at WHAS 11’s Great Day Live invited me on the show to talk about my key essentials to pack in your purse for Derby. There are some obvious choices – like sunglasses and hair ties – and some you might not think of – a sharpie (more on that below) or band-aids. Most importantly, you’ll need to fit all your essentials into a 12 x 12 purse since Churchill Downs has some pretty strict size limits on bags.

What to Pack in Your Purse for Kentucky Derby Vineyard Vines Straw Clutch c/o | Karen Walker Sunglasses c/o DITTO (get your first month free with code LOUWHATWEAR)

You can see the full clip below where I break down some of my favorites alongside the lovely LeeAnn from Dress & Dwell, who modeled the cutest Derby look (which was still available as of yesterday). Here’s what I’ll be bringing with me.

* The Bag: When it comes to the bag, my biggest tip would be to bring a cross body. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking even if all you have to do is go from the car to your swanky seats. On your way there you’ll likely want to pick up a program and cocktail so you’ll want your hands free. A simple cross body bag allows you to conquer the crowds all while expertly balancing your drink.

* A coozie: You may start out with a Mint Julep or a Lily but Derby is a marathon not a sprint. You’re probably going to want to switch to beer at some point and a coozie will come in VERY clutch. If you’re at the track, try and hunt down one of these festive Vineyard Vines coozies.

* SPF Lip Balm: The weather for Derby this year is supposed to be picture perfect – 75 and sunny. If you’re in an outdoor box, you’ll want to apply your SPF before throwing on your dress to keep those tan lines at bay. But don’t also forget to protect your pout. Before you apply lipstick be sure to use some SPF lip balm like this Nivea one. I’d also throw it in your bag and reapply throughout the day. You definitely don’t want to come home with swollen lips, it’s not a good look.

* Bobby pins + Hair Ties: When you leave the house, you will look like a million bucks but by 4 pm your hair might not have quite the same bounce. Pack a handful of bobby pins and hair ties to help you in case of a hair emergency. And if your hair manages to still look 100 by post time, first off big high five to you, but more importantly you’ll be able to share the love with some girls in the bathroom who are in desperate need of that hair tie.

* Flossies, Altoids and/or Gum: Okay you may not need all three but definitely pack the flossies and gum or mints. At some point you’ll need a little refresher.

* Poncho: I know I said the weather is supposed to be amazing but you honestly NEVER KNOW when it comes to Derby. One second it could be beautiful and the next you are knee-deep in a tornado/monsoon (no really, that happened one year – back in college in the infield but still, it happened). They aren’t cute but they are $2 at the drugstore and will be a lifesaver in case of a surprise pop-up shower.

* Band-aids: No matter how comfortable you think your heels are after 10 hours in them, they don’t feel like running shoes. If you’re wearing shoes for the first time you’re also way more likely to suffer from a blister. Pack some band-aids to keep you from committing my #1 Cardinal Sin of Derby Day – Walking Around the Track with No Shoes On. Just DON’T DO IT. Please, please, please for the love of God don’t do it.

* Flip-flops: Your feet hurt but you’ve still got a LONG way to go to get to the car. Pack a pair of flip-flops or fold-up flats and you’ll never be so proud of your Boy Scout-like preparedness. Yeah they might be a pain when you’re digging in your bag early in the day but you’ll be glad you have them at the end. If you’re in a box, Jockey Club Suite or at a table, you can always stash them for the day and then break them out after the fastest two minutes in sports.

* Sharpie: I’ve had a lot of questions about why you would pack a Sharpie. Here’s the reasoning. I like to bring a pen in my bag so I can mark up the program with betting tips and outline my bet so I’m prepared when I get to the betting window (I’ve got a habit of blanking and sounding like an idiot so this is key). Normally I use an ink point pen but they always smudge on the glossy program paper. Well last year, I inevitably ended up with blue ink smudged on my bright white dress. That made for one very unhappy camper.

If you take a Sharpie, the ink won’t smudge and you won’t have to worry about marks all over your dress. In addition, ball point pens can break through the paper when you’re trying to take notes on your lap. A Sharpie will also keep that from happening. Very clutch and chances are you have one in your junk drawer at home.

* Back-Up Charger: Like I said, Derby Day is a marathon. You’re going to be taking pictures, Snapchatting, texting/calling friends to meet up and just generally using your phone a bunch. Chances are, your battery is going to die long before you have a chance to order a cab to get home. Throw a back-up charger in your bag so you don’t have to miss out on taking a video of the entire crowd signing “My Old Kentucky Home” in unison and you’ll still have plenty of power to grab an Uber or Taxi 7.


No that we’ve covered the basics, here’s the full clip of my segment on Great Day Live!

Derby Dress of the Day: For the Kentucky Oaks

It’s Derby Week! Can’t believe it is finally here.

There is truly no limit to my love for Derby and all the fun leading up to the race. Definitely get out and take in some of the festivities – Chow Wagon, Steamboat Races, Waterfront Concerts, random parties –  if you can. It’s by far one of the best weeks to be in Louisville.

Since the clock is ticking when it comes to getting ready for the races, I picked today’s option (plus the extra below it) from Shopbop because they offer Amazon Prime shipping. This is super clutch and means no need to pay an outrageous rush shipping fee to make sure your dress is here on time.

DerbyDress18Paul & Joe Sister Fiorella Dress 

If you’re heading to the Oaks, don’t forget to incorporate some pink into your look. I’ve talked before about how I’m not the Elle Woods, all-pink everything kind of gal but there’s tons of ways to incorporate a touch of the day’s signature color into your look. It can be as simple as some whispy pink feathers in your fascinator or flowers on your hat.

Speaking of hats. If you’re still in need of one, hit up the local boutiques. Dress & Dwell, Clodhoppers, Rodes, Circe and more all have lots of options still in the stores. You can order one of Britni Knable’s Headcandi hats or headpieces off her etsy page and ask for the option to pick it up locally or have her deliver it to your hotel if you’re coming in from out of town.

One great last minute option –  hit up a friend that you know has been before, often times swapping out hats or headpieces is just as easy and way cheaper than getting something new. You can always re-dress it with a quick trip to Dee’s Crafts.

More last minute dress options… 

Derby Dress of the Day: For the Turf Club

It’s crazy that Derby is SO close. That being said, you still have time to snag a dress online if you got a last minute invite to Thurby, Oaks or Derby. It’s like when you’re ordering gifts for Christmas – you just may need to upgrade that shipping but you know it’s worth it.

I’ve ben eying this dress for a couple weeks and debated sharing it since I have been seriously considering making it mine. The modern ikat print and fit give the allure that this is a $350+ designer dress but this pretty comes in under $150 (!!!). I’m a big fan of this dress for the Kentucky Oaks- especially for the pink-averse –  since it has a touch of pink but isn’t over the top. You can play up the coral-pink with your headpiece or you can opt for something in navy or white.

What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby * For the Turf Club * Maggie LondonMaggy London Tie Dye Print Crepe Midi Shift Dress 

I picked this dress for the Turf Club because I’d want to pair it with sky high heels, based on the midi length, and we all know you need a reliable seat if you’re wearing big heels. I also love the modern cut which will fit in perfectly with Churchill Down’s recent renovations of the Turf Club.  This dress is also a great option for a wide range of ages and will work with both a fascinator or a big hat. I would keep the rest of your look more refined and simple if you opt for this option since the print is really the stand out feature with this one.

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