• Jennifer Tucker

And They're Off

It's spring and that means weddings, graduations, and going to the races. I'm sure you went in to full outfit planning mode as soon as you received your invitation or tickets. Then, the hat anxiety happened. I know it all to well, so I'm here to help.

I purchased my first hat while walking in Aintree, England headed to the Grand National. It was a simple natural woven with a braided brim and neat navy ribbon. It was cheap and it did the trick. Since then though, it became an annual event for my mom and I to make my Kentucky Derby hat each April. Here are a few of our creations:

The benefit of DIY is cost containment and customization. And you must have a basic black on general principles. You can rework that sucker seven ways to Sunday. It's been 10 years since I've been to the Derby so I am busting at the seams in excitement. I went into wardrobe planning mode months ago. Instead of splurging on all-new-everything, I thought I'd wear a dress I love but don't get to wear often & treat myself to a hat made by the same company I'd used for years for materials on my DIY creations.

I emailed pictures of my dress and shoes along with my hat design ideas to the hat makers at Dee's Hats in Louisville, and as luck would have it, they don't have the color and shape I am looking for. Enter my hat anxiety. I know how hard it is to find the perfect topper and most of my favorite designers are in England and Australia. Since my go-to was gone, my hat search was off the like start gate the first Saturday in May.

Pintrest is great for ideas but so many designs were either old or out of stock. Etsy had some options but I wasn't sure about the quality. I looked up my favorite designers such as Rachel Black, Rachel Trevor Martin, and Artura Rios, but I couldn't find anything in the colorway and shape I wanted. So I kept looking...and then I found my fairy hat-godmother at Felicity Northeast.

Now I am in a full-on fascinator phase. If you want a classic derby look, go big and bold. If you had to you could literally show up the day before the races, go to Rodeo Drive in Holiday Manor and they will glam you up head to toe. There are less expensive options such as Von Mauer and Dillards which are just a block away from Dees which will have hats ready to go for you. Look no further than the city hosting these races as they will have resources you won't find at home. This recent article by Kirby Adams in Louisville's Courier-Journal has compiled all the local hat makers here.

So what did I end up getting? You'll have to wait until after the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. But I must tell you, Felicity is amazing to work with, gave me great direction, and had my new creation on it's way within 3 days of contacting her. Check back for more posts on getting to, around, and surviving Derby weekend...and the best mint julep recipe no one told you about.

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