What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby (or to a Derby Party!)

what to wear to the Kentucky Derby

It’s that time again….Derby time! A couple years ago, I got to make my dad’s dream come true by taking him to the Kentucky Derby. It was truly an experience of a lifetime. The moment I saw him walk into Churchill Downs is a memory I will cherish forever.

I won’t be attending the event in person this year, but I will be going to a party at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate on May 4. And speaking of that, if you’re local and want to join me, the code WLDERBY24 will get you $25 off of your tickets (up to 4.)

With the big day just around the corner, I started looking for Derby outfit ideas only to find that there aren’t many resources out there. That lead me to this post idea, where I thought I’d share exactly what to wear to the Kentucky Derby.

Whether you’re attending in person or you’re heading to a soirée, these classic looks are sure to be a hit. And if you are going to the actual event (you lucky bitch!), I hope you have so much fun. There is really nothing quite like the roar of the Kentucky Derby crowd, so soak up every minute and enjoy a mint julep for me!

What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby

Need a quick do’s and don’ts list? Here’s a roundup of what to wear, what to bring, and what to leave behind.

  • Do wear a comfortable hat! I saw some women wearing hats that you could tell were so uncomfortable, and trust me, you don’t want to make this mistake. Keep in mind that the hat you choose will be on your head all day.
  • Do wear comfortable shoes. I can’t express this point enough. It’s a trek to get from wherever you park to the racetrack, so be sure your shoes are comfy enough to walk in.
  • Do bring a clear poncho in case it rains. It poured when we were there and I was SO glad I brought a $15 poncho from Amazon.
  • Don’t worry about dressing like everyone else. One of my favorite things about attending the Derby was seeing how people expressed their personality through fashion. Choose an outfit that you feel comfortable in.
  • Don’t forget to bring an external phone charger. With so many cell phones in such close proximity, your battery will go quick!

Derby Outfit Ideas

Dressing for the Derby is actually quite straight forward—find a cute dress you love, add some heels or sandals, throw on a fascinator, and you’ll be set.

Bright colors, floral fabrics, and preppy pieces are always a staple, so have some fun with your style and choose something you wouldn’t normally get to wear (that’s half the fun!) In case you need some inspo, here are some pieces that I’m currently eyeing for the party we’re attending this year…

Tweed Mini Dress
Mock Neck Mini Dress
Megan Mini Dress
Puff Sleeve Mini Dress
Katerina Mini Dress
V. Chapman Lily Ruched Dress
Mikaela Dress
Sweetheart Mini Dress
Asymmetrical Cape Dress
Anthea Dress
Ava Dress
Trompe Dress
India Midi Dress
Quincy Midi Dress
Samantha Dress

Fascinators for the Kentucky Derby

The Derby (and your outfit) wouldn’t be complete without a statement-making fascinator. They are so much fun to wear because there’s really no other occasion that calls for such a festive accessory. I love to have fun with this piece and switch it up year after year.

Hobbs London makes authentic hats for the Kentucky Derby, but there are tons of cute and more affordable options on Etsy. Find some of my faves below!

Erika's Signature

Hi! I’m Erika and I live in Sonoma County with my high school sweetheart and two kids. Follow along to find home inspiration, delicious recipes, and the inside scoop on all things wine country.

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