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Help! What do I Wear to Breeders' Cup?

For the last two years Breeders’ Cup has been treated to the warm, sunny weather of California, and this November we go back to historic, beautiful Churchill Downs. This has many racing fans asking, “Help! What do I wear to Breeders' Cup?"

One only has to think back three short years when Breeders’ Cup was at Keeneland where the fall fashions reigned supreme!

For those of you who were not at Keeneland but planning to be at Churchill Downs you may be asking; "Do I wear my Derby straw hat?", "Will it be cold?”, "Do I wear a hat or a fascinator?" Just like customers ask us when attending the Kentucky Derby for the first time - we aim to answer all their fashion questions and set them at ease! Our goal is to make a racing fan feel comfortable with their fashion choices and have the best experience ever!

One thing to remember is that Breeders’ Cup is an International event and changes locations, and for the past five years as the official milliner I have been helping to guide the fashion direction for each location. During this time, I have seen it all; humidity, hot weather, cold weather, rain and bright-hot sunshine. Each condition, and geographic location of the track has an effect on what women and men will wear. The one constant is that Breeders’ Cup always takes place the first week of November, and November is Fall no matter what part of the country you are in. Whether you consider Kentucky a midwestern or a southern state, everyone agrees, Fall in Kentucky can get cold! As a New Yorker I have found that whatever weather happens in Kentucky, we will get it here in New York a day or two later.

So here are the questions we are constantly asked and will happily answer:

Do people really dress up?

Of-course they do! Breeders’ Cup has an International draw and race fans attend from all over the world. Breeders’ Cup fashion shines at the track and at some of the best racing parties you will ever attend. Women wear dresses and men wear suits or trendy sports coats. Everyone is always dressed for a night out because the party starts as soon as you arrive at the track and after the last race it continues into the night! Bring your best fashion because the party starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday!

Can I wear my straw Derby Hat? Since this Breeders’ Cup is in Kentucky the short answer is no. Think east coast fall fashion! Women will wear felt and wool hats and felt and fabric sculpted fascinators. Men will wear felt not straw fedoras. If the weather gets really, really hot you will see more straw, but the chances are slim, and Fall fashion really does mean put the straw away right after Labor Day.

Hat or fascinator? Whatever you are comfortable with! Because Breeders’ Cup is an International event we have over the years been focusing on fascinators for women, especially chic straw and felt pieces. This year’s royal wedding has brought back the sleek style to the US, and Breeders’ Cup is one of the best places to embrace it! Think sculptural felt pieces and structural silks with loops for added height.

Still worried about the weather? Reach for a smart felt hat to keep you warm and dry. Broader brims with chic, sleek trims like French net or a classic bow are always a hit at any race!

Are felt styles as classy and elegant as straw styles? When you think of felt hats for women what comes to mind for some is just a classic women’s felt fedora. We design them of course but what we do with our Fall Collection is - we take an elegant hand-blocked straw style with hand-made silk trim and design the body of the hat in felt and create similar silk trims! (see below) We do the same for our fascinators by taking that elegant classic look of straw and design them in felt and other fall friendly fabrics. Any woman who has one of our straw pieces and loves it can get that same hat or fascinator designed in felt for fall! Men can do the same and choose a felt fedora that is styled like their straw one. And if you preorder we always make it custom to fit your exact head size. If you buy from us at an event or at the track – no worries – each piece has a drawstring inside to adjust for comfort! One other note; you can always order any of our styles in your favorite silk colors!

What do the Men wear? A suit and tie or smart sports coat and bowtie will be the go-to for the guys! Men can have a little fun too, try a shirt with a funky pattern or bold color under a neutral suit, and top it off with a great fedora! Men have been wearing fedoras to Breeders’ Cup since the first one! When Breeders’ Cup was at Keeneland in 2015 we saw more men wearing felt hats than ever before! Look sharp and wear that felt fedora on a slight rake and grab that racing form!

What colors and textures will be popular? This year’s Breeders’ Cup fashion trends for women at Churchill Downs call for sculpted felt and fabric fascinators and felt for hats. Leather is very in, especially paired with textured wool like boucle. Plaids of all sizes and colors are popular this fall, and lend themselves well to east coast racing fashion. Pair a bold plaid with a solid silk fascinator for an eye-popping race day look! Looking for a subtle way to add texture to your ensemble? Try a hand painted silk fascinator. Hand painted details create the illusion of texture and fullness without adding bulk or being too busy. Fall colors and jewel tones like deep red, emerald and teal are always a great way to brighten your fall look. Breeders’ Cup purple is always a popular choice as well!

To see more of our styles, click on our Collections. If you have more questions about Fall styles for Breeders’ Cup or any other hat related questions do not hesitate to give us a call at 212-279-1775. Thanks for reading our blog and we will see you at the races!

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