A History of Hats – Kentucky Derby Week

The "Jefe" Beck

When you think Kentucky Derby, many things may come to mind. Mint Julips, big wagers, rich folk in the stands and the “drunks” in the infield, celebrities and much more. However, one part of the Kentucky Derby seems to stand the test of time….the hats.

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The Kentucky Derby first started in 1875 when a woman’s crowning jewel during times of formal dress, was to wear a hat. This was especially true in the South where the women took pride in being looked at as Southern Belles.



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This tradition, however, is not associated with American tradition. According to the Kentucky Derby’s website, the hat-wearing tradition was started by founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., who modeled the race after high-class European racing events. At races across the pond, many women are seen sporting hats and the practice was quickly adopted by the American fans.

The tradition has now spread to the men since wearing a hat is seen as a good luck charm. So keep a look out during the Derby, you’re bound to see some really unique headgear.


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About the Author: “Jefe”

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