Straw hats are tops for Kentucky Derby style. Shannon Hall & Marcus Sloan in 2019, (Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com)
Kentucky Derby veteran and M Penner stylist encourages men to embrace color and pattern for derby dressing.
Keep the formal dress shoes in the closet, and slip into a light-colored, fabric or suede shoe that blends form and function.
Light colors and light fabrics are Kentucky Derby essentials.
Gents it’s time to get down and derby. The Running of the Roses is your opportunity to leave the khaki in the closet and race to embrace color and quirk for the Kentucky Derby.
Since its inception 1875,The Kentucky Derby has earned the title of the longest running sporting event in the United States. Because of its May event date, it also ushers in a rush of spring colors that are equally beguiling for men and women.
“Make it your own, be colorful, fun and don’t be scared. Men really do dress for the Kentucky Derby,” Hillhouse says.
Going all out starts with sherbet shades in pink, yellow and orange — and those are just the pants. A more reserved fellow can certainly stick with a neutral light blue suit, and add accessories like Etro pocket square or Kiton tie that pack a punch (ties are optional but recommended.)
If you’re thinking a tried-and-true like seersucker, Hillhouse instead suggests a suit that leans toward cafe au lait, while adding an eye-catching shirt in gingham, stripes or a playful pattern. More adventurous men are known to wear short suits, complete with bow tie, steeped in Southern charm. Add a whimsical, statement-making bowtie and belt from Paris Texas Apparel Co. for a winning accessory combination.
And, just like the women, hats are a must. The style has evolved over the years to include toppers for gents, but they can also serve a practical purpose. Watch the race outdoors, and a straw hat grants shade and protection from the elements, while making a style statement in the Churchhill Downs suites.
“You just can’t go wrong with a straw hat. They are great for derby and beyond,” Hillhouse notes.
Despite the Kentucky Derby being known as fastest two minutes in sports, spectators spend a lot time of standing, albeit with mint julep or bourbon in hand, so the right shoes will make a difference in the day-long, social affair. Keep the formal dress shoes in the closet, and slip into a light-colored, fabric or suede shoe that blends form and function instead. Kentucky Derby convention encourages men to go sockless for a throughly authentic look.
Dapper is as dapper does, so why not do the Kentucky Derby in true style? Our bet’s on you, gentlemen.