#SaturdaySwag: Kentucky Derby Essentials


The Kentucky Derby is one of my favorite events of the year.  One of my girlfriends started a tradition of watching the Derby years ago and it’s become our annual tradition. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for attending a Derby Party.  





This edition of #SaturdaySwag is all about my 7 Kentucky Derby Party Essentials!


  1. The Hat
  2. The Dress
  3. The Shoes
  4. The Accessories
  5. The Décor
  6. The Cocktails & Menu


The Hat

There is no derby party without an insane hat! This is one of the few times where bigger is better! I like hats that are big or even small but unique. The hat is the foundation on which your entire derby look stands so it must make a statement!


The Dress

Ok so you’ve found the perfect hat, now the challenge is to find the perfect dress. Since your hat is your statement piece, your dress should be simple and more complimentary to the hat.  The derby is such a stylish event. I tend to look at classic vintage inspired dresses. They seem to evoke a certain daytime glamour and they go perfectly with most of the hats I like!


The shoes!

Ok…here’s the reality.  The shoe has to be a showstopper but you are going to be on your feet for a while. If you are like me and you spend derby day at a racetrack, you have to have comfortable shoes.  However, you also want to be stylish and fashionable.  I tend to have a shoe I take photos in (I mean…it completes the look) and a shoe I wear for the rest of the day (flats please). 


The Accessories

You have a hat that makes a statement, a dress that is understated yet complimentary, shoes that complete the look now what? A little pizazz!!! The right jewelry and perfect handbag can take your derby look right to the winner’s circle!   I tend to love a statement necklace, bangles, a couple of rings and a simple earring.  A cute clutch always adds just the right amount of my personality to the look. Just remember to tone the jewelry down if your dress overpowers it! In that case, less is more!


The Party

Photo credit: taste of home

Photo credit: taste of home

Oprah once said, “Love is in the details”. This has become my party planning mantra. Whenever there is a party, I tend to be the one who handles decorations. Why because I love a good theme party! Hosting a derby party gives you a wide range of decoration options and they are relatively expensive. There is something for every budget.  It’s not just about a tablecloths and a dining ware. It’s about the little things, drink stirrers, napkin rings, centerpieces.  Try to pay attention to the details. That’s what makes a party memorable.

The Menu

Whether watching at the races (most are picnic style) or having a at home derby style watch party, your menu has to feel like you are in Kentucky.  Do your research and pick menu items that are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby.  These are my favorite Kentucky Derby menu items.



  • Mint Juleps
  • Bourbon Whiskey Meatballs
  • Kentucky Hot Brown
  • Chicken Salad
  • Watermelon tomato salad (served at the Kentucky derby by their executive chef)
  • Kentucky Derby Pie
  • Oaks Lilly Cocktail

Click the photo for a free download of my favorite Kentucky Derby Party Recipes! Whatever your derby plans are remember to do it in style! Have an awesome day at the races!

Until next time,

Take Care of yourselves and one another!

D. Sanders