Man of Constant Sorrow

MoCS' Speakeasy

I'm a Dapper Dan man!

This is a collection of my favorite Derby hat photos from over the years. I live near Churchill Downs, and most were taken from my front yard.

My favorite part of Derby week is all of the people. After 25+ years in my house, I now have friends all across the US - that I first met walking down my street.

It is a wonderful week.

Slappy

A Brief History of the Kentucky Derby Hat

Julia Zorthian,Liz Ronk

May 06, 2016


"They'r-r-re OFF!" wrote TIME in a 1926 recap of the Kentucky Derby.

"The long roar thundered like a wave, grumbled like a rising sea-surge through the crowd down the long stretch," the piece continued. "The stands seemed to sway, to swell with it; hats and parasols and a foam of faces rose, hesitated for an instant on the top of the wave, settled slowly down into a whisperless silence. The horses moved down the stretch. It was a perfect start."

The piece, "In Louisville," contained TIME's first-ever reference to Kentucky Derby hats—but at the time, the hats were hardly remarkable. Their presence was mentioned as a given. And one look at the vintage Kentucky Derby photos above will reveal that such a situation continued well into the race's history: many women and men wore hats, but they weren't the outrageous (and often ridiculous) hats for which the race is known today.

Now, however, the grandstand at Churchill Downs is one of the rare places in America where elaborate headwear is the norm, and at the race this Saturday the hats are sure to be a focal point. How did that happen?

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