The Kentucky Derby is one of spring’s most festive occasions. The weather is gorgeous, the parties are plentiful, and it’s the perfect opportunity to bring a date.
Mint juleps aside, the best part of the Derby Experience is the attire. And by attire, of course I mean hats. But while festive is the norm, this is one occasion where it is possible to go overboard if you’re not careful.
To help you assemble a perfect Derby ensemble, Stylitics took a look at what their members have been wearing around the country. Here’s a selection of the biggest hits for both men and women.
For an Outdoor Party:
If you’re going to be outside, you’ll want to wear something a little more casual that you can move around in. Florals are great for the Derby, and also happen to be the most popular pattern for day dresses right now.
Avoid stilettos, and instead opt for a pair of sandals or flats. Make sure your hat is low maintenance. As a general rule, avoid anything that obstructs your vision or has more than a 3-foot diameter. Try for a simple hat with an accent color, like pink or yellow, to compliment this colorful dress.
Get the look: dress (or this one is great), hat (this or this works too!), sandals **For some more amazing sandals, check out this girl’s closet.
Image via People Style Watch
For a slightly trendier alternative, a mid-length dress and sandals is also appropriate. Abstract prints are the second most popular print being worn around the country, so don’t be afraid to pick bold colors. With a standout dress like this one, keep the hat simple. But don’t wear something you mind getting dirty!
Get the look: Dress, Hat, Wedges
Image via Secret-Fashion
If you’re still having trouble deciding, you can’t go wrong with a classic little black dress. Take a cue from fashionable Derby-goer Gabrielle Union and pair a black sundress with all black accessories. In this weather, choose a casual fabric, like cotton. Just make sure you wear shoes you can walk in!
Get the look: Dress,(this one is great, too), Hat, Wedges
Image via Zimbio
Outdoor parties get messy, so it’s ok to be casual. Jeans are definitely on the spectrum of appropriate, but if you’re going to don denim, offset it with a bright shirt and a seersucker blazer.
Get the look: Jeans, Blazer, Tee. Check out more in Justin’s closet!
Image via Scout Sixteen
For a classic look, stick with navy slacks and a sportcoat. Ditch the tie, but make sure to incorporate the obligatory pastel. Shades are mandatory.
Get the look: Suit, Shirt, Shades
Image via Trashness.com
If you’re going to wear seersucker, pair it with white pants and a chambray shirt. This look is very appropriate and fashion-forward without overdoing the prep and pastel. Just be mindful if you opt to wear white – it can get very dirty.
Get the look: Jacket, Pants, Shirt
Image via Men’s Style Pro
If you’re at a more formal affair:
If you’ve managed to score a swanky invite, raise your mint julep!
Arrive in some low-heeled sandals and a colorful silk or chiffon dress. Florals are shaping up to be the most popular print of summer, so a floral frock will put you ahead of the curve. With any patterned dress, keep your hat simple. Opt for a neutral hat color (that you can wear again!) and accent it with a solid ribbon that matches your dress.
Get the look: Dress, Heels, Hat
Image via feedio.net
When it comes to dressing up, you can’t go wrong with classic black and white. These are the two most popular colors of dresses being worn around the country, for a reason. Kate Walsh looks stunning in a belted dress and a solid black hat.
Get the look: Dress (this one is great, too!), Hat, Shoes (Splurge, Steal)
Image via Fashion Indie
This polka-dot dress is the perfect combination of colorful and trendy. You can’t go wrong with this throwback look. Styles at the Derby have gotten more fashion-forward in recent years, so don’t be afraid to rock an unconventional print or silhouette. Pair it with a cloche hat for a retro vibe. Added bonus? It won’t stop you from getting close to your date!
Get the look: Dress (try this or this), Hat (or try this one), Wedges
Image via Just Jared
When it comes to headwear, no one rocks a decorative headpiece better than the Duchess herself. An elegant day dress and heels is a foolproof ensemble – especially if you’re still early in your relationship – and fascinators are on the rise as an alternative to the oversized hats of the past. Try a pair of strappy sandals instead of pumps.
Get the look: Dress (this one works, too!), Fascinator (Etsy is great for these), Sandals (Splurge, Steal)
Image via Camera Press/Mark Stewart
For the swankier affair, it’s all about the accessories. Bow ties? Yes. Hats? Well, this is the Derby! Take a cue from Ashton, and don’t be afraid to accessorize. Just be mindful of your color palette – with more than one accessory, stick to solid colors. And make sure they’re light colors – it gets hot!
Get the look: Vest, Hat, Bow Tie, Sunglasses
Image via Just Jared
If you’re going for a monochrome style, stick to light khaki (e.g. avoid head-to-toe pastel pink!) This khaki pantsuit is classy, but also fun and festive. Choose a breathable fabric, like linen, and pair it with a pastel tie.
Get the look: Suit, Shirt, Tie
Image via Trashness
If you’re uncomfortable with seersucker and bowties, keep the look simple with solid colors. Try incorporating a little bit of pastel without overdoing it, and offset a solid white sportcoat with khaki pants.
Get the look: Pants, Jacket, Shirt, Tie
Image via Fanpop.com
Written by Jessica Novak, Marketing Manager for real-time trend insights company Stylitics. Jessica is a blogger, runner, coffee addict, avid alliterator, and chambray enthusiast.