What to Wear + Where to Party for the 2018 Kentucky Derby

One of the most stylish days of the years, the Kentucky Derby provides a great opportunity to put on your best hat and show off a high-style spring look. 

What to wear:

Hats are no longer reserved for cold-weather wear, they are a must-have accessory for spring, summer, and fall alike. This month’s Kentucky Derby offers the perfect opportunity to don a statement-making chapeau, from wide-brimmed styles festooned with flowers to whimsical, sky-high fascinators. Check out these local boutiques that offer styles that would be right at home at Churchill Downs. 

Showroom: Find the beautiful, sculptural hats of long hat maker Karen Morris at the Lyn-Lake boutique cooperative known for its collection of locally made clothing and accessories. Born in Hong Kong and trained under master milliners in London, Ireland, and North Carolina, the designer combines traditional British hat-making techniques with a modern flair, utilizing simple shapes, exotic materials, and unique textures. @ 615 W. Lake St., Minneapolis

Scarborough Fair Boutique: Stop by the St. Paul boutique to peruse it’s vast collection of hats, including designs by several local designers, such as Karen Morris Millinery and Candy Kuehn, who incorporates dyeing, netting, recycled straw, feathers, and floral supplies for her conceptual hat designs. The shop also carries colorful dresses fit for a Derby party, including Terry Macey and Angelika Elsebach‘s Mondrian-inspired, color-blocked designs. @ 2238 Carter Ave., St. Paul, scarboroughfairshop.com

Stephanie’s: The St. Paul boutique specializes in stylish dresses and dressed-up separates that go from day to evening, including special events such as weddings. Go unconventional in an Alice + Olivia floral jumpsuit from the store, or easy-breezy in a dove-print wrap dress by Rebecca Minkoff. Complete the look with the boutique’s newly expanded collection of handbags and shoes. @ 735 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, stephaniesshop.com

Queen Anna: Head to the North Loop for this jewel of a boutique, which was founded a year ago by retailer Nicole Jennings. The store features an elegant-with-an-edge mix of dresses, separates, and accessories—including Derby-ready pieces such as an off-the-shoulder ruffled top in moss green that pairs perfectly with a pale pink pencil skirt, or a bright, tropically patterned dress. @ 109 N. 2nd St., Minneapolis, queenanna.co

Cliché: Founded more than a decade ago, Cliché is one of the longest-running boutiques in the Twin Cities. And for good reason: It has always stayed on trend without being overly trendy, stocking designs packed with personality by small indie brands handpicked from around the U.S. (and affordably priced). The shop also has a great selection of Derby-ready looks, such as a green-and-white gingham skirt and tube-top set, a wide-leg jumpsuit featuring a bold print, or a ruffle-sleeved top. @ 2403 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, clichempls.com

The Golden Pearl Vintage: Vintage is a great way to go when dressing for the Kentucky Derby, and few do it as well as the Golden Pearl Vintage. Go classic in a ’50s dress with a cinched waist and full skirt (ideally in a floral print), or go bold in a brightly patterned look from the 1970s—which happens to be the Pearl’s specialty. Plus, they’ve got tons of all the finishing touches, from hats to gloves and everything in between. @ 507A E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, goldenpearlvintage.com

Atmosfere: Since first opening in 2005, Atmosfere in the North Loop has specialized in menswear for formal events that strikes the perfect balance between style, quality, and affordability. While the store’s focus is on weddings, it also makes a great destination for dapper gents to get outfitted for the Derby. Note, with menswear, some last-minute alterations may need to be made, so be prepared. @ 730 Washington Av. N., Minneapolis, facebook.com/atmosfere

MartinPatrick3: With more than 17,000 square feet of retail space—a majority of which is dedicated to menswear—MartinPatrick3 is a major destination for guys who are looking for a high-style look. The boutique also features a tailor shop, so you can get those last-minute alterations taken care of on the spot. @ 212 3rd Ave. N., Minneapolis, martinpatrick3.com

Heimie’s Haberdashery: For more than 90 years, Heimie’s has been the place to go for classic men’s suits and accessories. In addition to its made-to-order offerings, it also stocks a selection of ready-made garments for last-minute outfitting. @ 400 St. Peter St., St. Paul, heimies.com

Where to party: 

This year, Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby land on the same day, Saturday, May 5. Whether you’re a fan of margaritas or mint juleps, there are plenty of parties celebrating both occasions.

Dalton & Wade Kentucky Derby Party: With its southern fare and skyline views, Dalton & Wade is an ideal spot to take in the Kentucky Derby. The whiskey-centric bar and restaurant is hosting a viewing party on its rooftop with views of the downtown skyline, multiple big screens, a barbecue feast, outdoor games, mint juleps—and in a nod to Cinco de Mayo, piñatas and margaritas. Saturday from 2 p.m.–6 p.m. @ Dalton & Wade, 323 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis. $45 @ eventbrite.com

Betty Danger’s Kentucky Derbatante: Leave it to Betty Danger’s Country Club—the kooky, retro hot spot that combines Tex-Mex food and cocktails with mini golf and a full-sized Ferris Wheel—to throw a great Cinco de Mayo–Kentucky Derby fusion party. They’re pulling out all the stops with a derby hat contest, a mint julep bar, live ponies (!), inflatable horse races, mini golf, and a derby ball. Saturday from 2:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. @ Betty Danger’s Country Club, 2501 Marshall St. NE., Minneapolis. $15–$20 @ bettydangers.com

Derby de Mayo: Celebrate the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo in style at Brick x Mortar, a new members-only social club in downtown that’s rarely open to the public. The event includes a viewing of the derby, a live brass band, miniature horses, southern-style fare from Soul Bowl, hand-rolled cigars and a live DJ, plus piñatas, margaritas, cervezas and tequila. A portion of proceeds benefits nonprofit This Old Horse, which provides sanctuary to retired horses. Saturday from 1 p.m.–7 p.m. @ Brick x Mortar, 314 N. 1st Ave., Minneapolis. $30 at eventbrite.com

University Club’s Kentucky Derby Party: Experience the Kentucky Derby at the historic University Club with Southern-inspired food and drinks, a live telecast of the Derby, plus an interactive photo booth, best-dressed contests, prizes and a poolside cigar lounge. Saturday from 3–7 p.m. @ University Club of St. Paul, 420 Summit Av., St. Paul. $45 @ eventbrite.com

Brit’s Pub Kentucky Derby Party: Watch the races on the clubhouse’s big screen or outdoor veranda. Also enjoy a live bluegrass band, cigar rollers, a photo wall, and specials on mint juleps and bubbly. Free. Saturday from noon–6 p.m. @ Brit’s Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, britspub.com

Canterbury Park Kentucky Derby Party: Watch and wager on the race from Churchill Downs and about two dozen other races around the country, plus view live races on the track. This party also includes a derby hat contest, pony rides, face painting, a selfie station, and live music. Saturday from 8 a.m.–6 p.m. @ Canterbury Park, 1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee,  canterburypark.com

YLC Derby for a Cure: Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and mint juleps, games, and prizes for best-dressed at the 7th annual Derby for a Cure, hosted by the MinnDakotas JDRF Young Leadership Committee, which supports Type 1 diabetes research. Tickets include an open bar. Saturday from 2–6 p.m. @ The Loop West End, 5331 W 16th St., St. Louis Park; $65 @ jdrf.org

C2i Kentucky Derby Celebration: Run for the Roses: Warehouse Winery Youth foster care program Connections to Independence (C2i) hosts its second annual Run for the Roses: A Kentucky Derby Celebration fundraiser. A ticket includes derby-themed activities, food, cocktails, wine tasting, cigar bar, a live telecast, a hat contest for men and women, poker tables, and a silent auction. Saturday from 3–7 p.m. @ Warehouse Winery, 6415 Cambridge St., Minneapolis. Tickets ar $35 individual or $60 per couple at eventbrite.com

Dixie’s on Grand: Watch the races live and enjoy Southern fare, mint julep specials, and a best-hat competition. Saturday at 5 p.m. @ Dixie’s on Grand, 695 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-222-7345, dixiesongrand.com

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