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

Kentucky Derby 2021 fashion: Outfit ideas, latest styles, trends, hats
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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.

Stradivarius, 3-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, retired to stud

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LONDON – Stradivarius, one of the most famous racehorses in Britain and Ireland after winning the Gold Cup at Ascot three times, has been retired to stud.

Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, said he felt it would be unfair to make the horse come back next season as a 9-year-old after time away with a bruised foot.

“It has been a fairytale from start to finish,” Nielsen told British newspaper The Racing Post.

Stradivarius, bred in Ireland and the son of Sea The Stars, won 20 of his 35 races – including seven Group One races – and earned almost 3.5 million pounds (now $3.8 million) in prize money.

Stradivarius won four Goodwood Cups, three Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.