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Just an overcommitted girl trying to keep up with it all. Mom of three, co-owner of Lemonade PR, sports lover and F1 enthusiast always counting down to the Kentucky Derby. 

Kentucky Derby: Derby Day Purse Essentials

May 3, 2016

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!

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  1. […] of, if you’re going to the Kentucky Derby, be sure to check out Danielle of Lou What Wear‘s “Purse Essentials” post. Very […]

  2. […] For the ladies (and purse carrying men) out there, say thank you to Danielle for detailing your Derby day essentials. […]

  3. […] A couple years ago I did a full post on purse essentials. Get the full run down here. […]

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