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    From the infield to Millionaire's Row, everyone’s got an eye on what everyone else is wearing when it comes to Derby season. As one of the biggest days in fashion for Louisville, Churchill Downs is home to trends both modern and timeless but the key to it all is standing out among the crowd. How does one stand out you may ask? Easy. Just embrace your personal style in one hat to heel outfit. Well, then again it might not be that easy after all. No need to fear, because these tips for owning your derby style will turn a painstaking process of finding the perfect outfit into a fun experience of self discovery. To your starting gates!

    TIP: TEXTURE FOR THE TROPHY.

    Mixing and matching patterns and textures seems like a scary thing, but as long as one or two colors are consistent, you're golden. Speaking of golden, everyone has a shade of yellow that suites them. Just look for shades that compliment your skin's undertone and you're well on your way to instant goddess status. This little number ($44 at Pitaya) is paired with a convenient cross body envelope purse ($39), perfect for keeping your hands free for a Lilly and betting tickets. 

    TIP: CINCHED IS A CINCH.

    You can't go wrong with a dress that compliments your body shape. You want the seam of the dress to draw attention to the smallest part of your waist. This will create an hourglass shape.  A cinched waist flatters just about anyone, just like this bright blue, yellow and white strapless dress (Blush Boutique.) Go bright or go home for Derby! Don't be afraid of color and have fun with it.

    TIP: USE THE PERKS OF PATTERN.

    In the sea of thousands at Churchill Downs, an easy go to for standing out among the crowd is pattern. Pick a color that's consistent in the pattern and use it for accessories and shoes. A current trend is throwing on a complimentary belt like this one ($8 at Pitaya.) It's a quick way to add some pizzazz to an average dress while adding a personal touch. 

    TIP: THOROUGHBRED THROWBACK

    You can't ever go wrong with vintage, ever. This fifties inspired piece ($24 dress and $10 hat at Acorn Apparel) is the perfect mix of timelessness with a flirty edge. Throw on modern accessories like these circle lensed sunglasses, a vintage hat, and a classic red lip to complete this classic look.

    TIP: FASCINATORS FOR THE WIN. 

    If you haven't considered a fascinator for your derby hat, you need to. No need to worry about hat hair or being blinded by an oversized flappy bill with this hat alternative normally attached to a band or a clip. Speaking of alternatives, a dress isn't the only way to go for Derby style. There are all sorts of options for mixing tops and skirts, one of the most popular being the tea length skirts ($34 at Pitaya) and a light weight top ($18 at Pitaya.) Derby style is about expressing yourself in a head to toe look, so wear what makes you feel the most confident and comfortable. 

    TIP: THROW SHADE WITH STYLE.

    Pick a color, any color. Creating an outfit around one color while incorporating different shades of that color is an easy and trendy strategy for your Oaks or Derby outfit (shades of pink for Oaks of course.) This allows you to play with colors that are bright and muted ($40 dress and $16 hat at Acorn Apparel.) The key is to stick with solids to avoid chaos. 

    TIP: SHIFT AT THE SPIRES.

    For an easy go to dress, choose a bright shift dress ($35 at Pitaya.) No matter your shape, this style of dress is comfortable enough to sleep in but chic enough to put you immediately on trend. Spice it up with chunky accessories ($12 necklace at Pitaya) and a floppy hat to balance out the shape and this look is just too easy to be true. 

    TIP: DOT TO TROT.

    We all know how unpredictable the weather for Oaks and Derby can be so it's fair to say it's better to be safe than sorry. This adorable polka dot trench (Blush Boutique) is a great layering piece for both style and versatility. 

    TIP: DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE COLD SHOULDER.

    A little shoulder never hurt nobody. This trend is super flattering and fun and something everyone should give a go. Show off that decolletage ladies! Bonus Point: White is a great color to pair with pink for Oaks. 

    TIP: IT'S HIP TO BE SQUARE.

    Southern sophistication will always be a classic look for Derby. However, that doesn't mean you can't test the waters with modern and trendy styles. This bohemian chic look is a great example of taking personal style and transitioning it into a Derby inspired look. 

    TIP: PUT A PIN IN IT.

     Derby is a great time to experiment with different pieces and varying types of accessories. Check out these cool Derby pins at Acorn Apparel!

    Special thanks to Acorn Apparel, Blush Boutique, and Pitaya for these Derby inpsired looks. For more Derby tips from the experts, check out Louisville Magazine's Derby Issue. 

    Cover image courtesy of Louisville Magazine's April Issue. 

    Cassandra Clark's picture

    About Cassandra Clark

    A Louisville native, style enthusiast, cat lady, and appreciator of a good cup of coffee.

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