Unless something comes up that changes the plans, I will be accompanying someone to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. So I’m presently trying to decide what to wear. I’ve spent a few hours researching Kentucky Derby dress code. I’m particularly researching the dress code for the infield because that’s where I’ll be with one of the two people with whom I’ll be attending.
I admit I’m a bit nervous because I’ve read it can get raucous in the infield. Apparently it can draw upwards of 80000 people crowding around to party and engage in decadence and debauchery. I guess it explains why the dress code is different for the infield folk.
So, what can you wear to the Kentucky Derby and what should you wear to the Kentucky Derby as an infield ticket holder?
This is what it says on the Kentucky Derby website about the Derby dress code:
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to Derby dressing, in part because what you wear has much to do with where you plan to spend the day. In the reserved seating areas (grandstand, clubhouse, suites and corporate hospitality areas), ladies typically wear spring dresses, pastel-colored suits, or bold separates that coordinate with their Derby headwear and accessories. (source)
According to the article on the kentuckyderby.com website, the Derby “is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle“.
I can’t say that I have a Southern Belle inside of me. Although I do love getting dressed up and pretending I’m living out my very own fairy tale.
From what I can tell, when they say “every woman”, they mostly mean every woman watching the race from one of the reserved seating areas. I’ve seen some video footage from the Kentucky Derby infield. The women seem to be more casually dressed. Lots of short summer dresses that you can wear every day to go anywhere. There were some in simple hats–nothing too ornate. Many enough without a hat at all. Considering some of the things that seem to take place at the infield “party” — especially when it rains–it makes sense that the dress code is more relaxed.
The infield, also known as the Derby Party, is just that – 80,000 people partying in the center of the race track, where debauchery rules. If it is raining, or has rained recently, you will be wading through mud/ watching people literally mud-wrestling. Luckily, you are allowed to bring a collapsible camping chair.
As far as dress code in the infield goes, it seems like infielders aren’t expected to follow the same dress code as those who will be watching the race from the reserved seating areas. Infielders can wear jeans and tennis shoes if they so choose. Here’s a quote from tripsavvy.com
Even though Derby attire is generally sundresses and big hats for women and pastel-colored suits for men, remember that the infield party tends to get messy. Comfortable clothing is the most important dress code, and make sure you wear something you don’t mind getting dirty. Over-the-top outfits and Derby-inspired costumes are always encouraged.
So what will I wear to attend the party on the infield at the Kentucky Derby?
I don’t currently have anything in my closet that will be suitable to wear either way. Before I did my research, I was planning on shopping for a dress, or maybe a skirt and blouse, a pair of comfortable but stylish shoes and (maybe) the requisite Kentucky Derby hat. Having done a bit more research based on the general admissions ticket, I will probably be buying an outfit more suitable for a less than glamorous experience. I’m considering a Fashion Nova cargo jumpsuit and a regular cap with my black 3-inch ankle boots and a pair of sneakers in my bag in case.
To be frankly honest, I’m now dreading the day. It’s going to be a long day. A 3 hour drive to Louisville Kentucky, and at least 4 hours at Churchill Downs followed by a 3 hour drive back home. If it happens I’ll write a post telling you how it went.