Forget your handicappers and announcers and ESPN. Despite what you may have heard, Derby Day is, first and foremost, a social event. It’s an occasion for people to let loose, to see and be seen, and the true Derby goer knows that the perfect day starts with the perfect ensemble. And what is the key to the perfect Derby ensemble? The hat.
Not merely a cherry on top of your sartorial sundae, if you identify as a lady type person, the Derby hat you choose to perch on your head is the single most important factor in the glorious success, or horrific failure, or your Derby ensemble. From the zany to the classic, the sculptural to the understated, the millinery on display come the first Saturday in May is as distinctive as the jockeys’ silks, and as individual. To go hatless would be a fashion crime severe enough to give Miranda Priestley a coronary, and a deep sign of disrespect to the cultural institution that has flourished, sans pause, for 142 years.
But fear not, my lovelies. For while the task is daunting and the pressure great, you too can find the Derby hat that speaks to your soul — a festooned key that will unlock your next-level Derby experience. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, though you can certainly go that route. It could be crafted by the finest milliner or bedecked with flowers you taped on yourself. The important thing is that you have one, and that it is all you. Here are some options to get you started.