The running of the 139th Kentucky Derby is upon us and Louisville is the place to be the first Saturday in May. While the big race might be on May 4, this lively, unique city parties even harder for a full two weeks. If you're not one of the lucky few that can afford a box on Millionaire's Row, then take some tips from us. We'll have you dolled up in true Native Louvillian style and set to keep up with all the parties for the whole big weekend.
When most people hear about "Derby Fashion," they think enormous, embellished hats...and that's about it. But can you really expect the population of Greater Louisville to go about in hats they can barely see around all of the time? And who wants to have to keep up with an accessory while barhopping and dancing the night away. As a native of Louisville, I certainly wouldn't want to waste my energy lugging a huge hat around. There's much more to our style than that.
Louisville has been a music hub for years. My Morning Jacket is probably the widest known Louisville success, but countless other bands and solo musicians hail from this fine city. And in this digital age, you had better believe that the thriving music scene includes some amazing DJs as well. In addition to those who are still residents, Derby time tends to call many of them back home. This means plenty of opportunities to get out and dance. If you fall victim to the enormous hat, you'll be missing out.
Residents hardly give a second thought to the novelty of bars that stay open until 4am seven days a week. But even we take advantage of hot spots being open from 8am - 6am for both Derby and Oaks (the day before the Derby). With so many places to check out, you'll be better able to keep up if you leave the monstrous hat and sheath dress at home.
If you've already arrived and are lacking the optimum clothes and accessories to partake of the full, true Derby experience, not to worry. We've got some great places to visit where you can find all that you need to dress like a local.
Above all else, while in Louisville, be unique with your style. It's common to see modern mixed with vintage. The Nitty Gritty, a long time Louisville staple, is a great place to start, especially if you're looking for something to wear that no one else has. From dresses to jewelry and accessories, you are guaranteed to find something to suit your personal taste.
Terri Burt opened the store back in 2000. She has quite the knack for giving people fashion advice and her store stocks sizes to flatter every body type Just look for the smiling redhead, and you'll leave the store in style no matter where you're headed.
Unlike a lot of cities, natives and transplants alike are into displaying their Louisville pride. I would venture a guess that there are more fleur de lis tattoos in the city than anything else. Being acutely aware of this, in 2005 Will Russell opened up Why Louisville on Bardstown Road in the heart of Louisville's trendy shopping district. The Bardstown Road store and the new Why Lou Two in Nulu are where to find the best shirts inventively using Louisville's trademark fleur de lis as well as original designs by Louisville artists.
If T-Shirts aren't up your alley (though if you're planning on getting down to the city's great music scene, they can be ideal to stick in your bag for a wardrobe change) make sure that you check out their great fleur de lis jewelry collection. I know I'm never without my fleur de lis ring.
In the same neighborhood as the original Why Louisville store, it's a quick walk to Hey Tiger. This unique little shop was opened in 2009 by Alicia Cavender, a long-time resident who is known for having her finger on the fashion pulse of the city. While there is a limited clothing selection, you will not be at a loss for fabulous accessories.
Hey Tiger carries a huge array of locally handmade jewelry. You may find yourself filling up your jewelry box with all the amazing choices. It's also the perfect place to pick up a more interesting version of the newly popular 'fascinator,' which is a great alternative to the huge floppy hat.
Whether you're headed to a fun (and often muddy) time in the infield, to Headliners for the big Derby Eve concert, or somewhere more posh like the bar at 21c, there are some amazing and unique shops where you will find the perfect clothes and accessories to blend right in. You may even end up with a whole new wardrobe and a full jewelry box in the process.