LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s about hats with an attitude. Every year, Derby hat fashion is a must. At the 147th Kentucky Derby this weekend, elaborate and extravagant head wear will be on display.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky Derby Museum helps guest design hats for a proper Derby experience

  • Since 1875, hats have been worn at the Derby

  • Large, bright, extravagant hats became a trend in the 1960s at the Kentucky Derby

Jennifer Hagan helps guests at the Kentucky Derby Museum make their own hats, ensuring each is sprinkled with a little bit of history.

“We also have a program here called Hattitude and that is something that we do quite a bit,” Hagan said. “And we do it all year round because every day is Derby Day here at the Kentucky Derby Museum.”

Derby tradition is all about fashion, explained Hagan.

Fashionable hats for men on display at the Kentucky Derby Museum. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)


“There's no such thing as too many feathers on a Derby hat,” Hagan said.

She said over the decades, Louisville has become synonymous with hat fashion.

Jennifer Hagan with the Kentucky Derby Museum creates a paper fascinator. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

“Well, The Kentucky Derby was started in 1875 and it was modeled after the Epsom Derby in Great Britain,” Hagan said.

She said the Epsom Derby was a really fabulous event for high society.

“The Queen and Kings and high society all attended Thoroughbred racing, especially for the Epsom Derby,” Hagan said. “It was about fashion and people wear hats and it was very glamorous.”

Since the first races, the tradition of wearing hats has carried through decades.

“The founders of The Kentucky Derby really wanted to mimic that. They really wanted to create this just spectacular event and to do that, they needed to focus on fashion. It needed to be more than just about drinking and gambling,” Hagan said.

Churchill Downs said the large, bright, extravagant hats became a trend in the 1960s at the Kentucky Derby when fashion rules evolved.