In 1875, when Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. founded the Kentucky Derby, horse racing was a rough affair in the United States. Clark and his wife sought to dignify and ennoble the race by inviting high society families and issuing a dress code. Hats were a necessary part of dress at the time, and the elegance of the attendees clothing was much noted in the press. The emphasis on hats as part of a coordinated outfit for the Derby lasted into the 1960s, when hat wearing fell off in the general public.
But then, instead of disappearing, Derby hats became a singular force, with flamboyant toppers for women and men a main attraction at the race. With ebbs and flows, the tradition has continued, and even increased in recent years. This week of the 145th running of the famous horse race, the VFG celebrates Derby hats with the most splendid hats from all eras available in our shops.View the Parade Now