Kentucky Derby 2021 fashion: Hats, outfit ideas, what to wear, latest styles, trends

Kentucky Derby 2021 fashion: Outfit ideas, latest styles, trends, hats
Jim Owens-USA TODAY Sports

The very first Kentucky Derby was inspired by top-tier races in England and France, so it’s no surprise that the upscale dress codes of European horse racing also came across the pond with Derby creator Meriwether Lewis Clark (the grandson of William Clark, as in Lewis and Clark).

In the early days of the Derby, Gilded Age styles were front and center, including corsets and long dresses for women. Hats were seen as a status symbol, and the tradition of wearing lavished hats continues to this day from elegant fascinators to wild, themed hats.

Fashion trends at the Kentucky Derby continued to follow whatever was the latest and greatest style in the U.S. at the time, from more simple attire throughout the Great Depression to glamorous outfits in a post-war America ready to party.

Related: What to know about the Kentucky Derby

Today, the more unique your fit, the better. Bright colors, bold prints and innovative designs are all the rage, and hats and fascinators are still front and center.

“The Kentucky Derby is such an iconic American event where fashion, fun, sports and tradition meet,” says Shep Murray, co-founder of Vineyard Vines, the official style of the Run for the Roses for over a decade.

Ian Murray, the other co-founder behind Vineyard Vines, says that while styles at the Derby tend to be timeless and classic, he’s noticed a welcomed increase in vibrant prints, especially within men’s fashion. He’s also seen a growing demand for more versatile clothing, from dresses that can be worn to events long after the Derby to sports coats with an emphasis on performance and comfort.

The 2021 Kentucky Derby will air on May 1 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage is also available to stream live on and on the NBC Sports app. Post time for the 2021 Kentucky Derby is set for approximately 6:57 p.m. ET.

Related: How to watch the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Women’s styles for the Kentucky Derby

Bright and colorful outfits have been the norm for women at the Derby for years now. So whether you’re making the trip to Louisville or celebrating from your house, look for exciting prints that scream spring and summer.

Keep the warm weather in mind (Saturday’s forecast in Louisville is a sunny 73) when picking a fit and material weight. Go for a classic dress or buck tradition with a romper or suit.

Vineyard Vines’ Shep Murray says their gingham floral dress, which combines a summery gingham in pastel blue with a floral pattern reminiscent of the Derby’s garland of roses, is one of their biggest sellers.

Men’s styles for the Kentucky Derby

Men’s fashion at the Kentucky Derby range from casual to formal to flashy. A popular look is dressy pants, a vibrant shirt or sport coat and fun accents like sunglasses or bold bowties, but anything goes on the First Saturday in May.

Derby styles for men have trended towards loud prints, which is something the Murray brothers have championed throughout the years with Vineyard Vines’ signature blazers and ties.

If you can’t make it to the store in time for the mane event, take a spin through your closet and upcycle your own outfit. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take a risk with breezy pastels or bright colors.

Related: Enter to win a #DerbyAtHome Mint Julep kit

Kids’ styles for the Kentucky Derby

Keep the kids festive yet cool with summery styles like patterned dresses and shorts. Like the adults, pastels and vibrant colors make for great Derby outfits. You also can’t go wrong with sporting matching styles on one of the biggest fashion days of the year. If junior is too young for a Derby-caliber hat, opt for a headband or child’s baseball cap for a winning combo of style and sensibility.


The Kentucky Derby is synonymous with colorful and creative hats and fascinators. Make your own at home using an old hat or headband and whatever materials around the house inspire you, like NBC Sports’ DIY Paper Flower Fascinator.

If you’re pressed for time or creativity (hey, no judgement), there are also many options available online. The Spring 2021 line from Kentucky Derby 147 Featured Milliner Christine A. Moore Millinery includes an array of hats and fascinators in neutrals, reds, pinks and cool tones.

Related: Recipes for traditional Kentucky Derby foods

Oaks Day

From pink suits, dresses and hats to pink trim or accents, pinks of all shades dominate at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day (Friday, April 30, 12-6 p.m. ET, NBCSN) when a field of fillies compete in the marquee race of the day.

Those who think their pink styles out-do the rest can enter the Longiness Fashion Contest, which will be virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from celebrating the female horses running in the Oaks, the day is also dedicated to raising awareness about breast and ovarian cancer (including the Survivors Parade, made up of breast and ovarian cancer survivors) and fundraising for charities.

Related: Recipes for traditional Mint Julep and other Kentucky Derby drinks

Watch the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Full coverage is also available on and the NBC Sports app.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

1 Comment

NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

churchill downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.