The Kentucky Derby at the famous Churchill Downs is rapidly approaching, and what’s dubbed as “The most exciting two minutes in sports” is one of the most hyped-up annual sporting events. Folks from all over the world travel to Louisville to take part in the weekend’s festivities that always prove to be a great time, but one thing that may be as synonymous with the race as the Mint Julips or the horses themselves is the carefully-crafted outfits that fans don, which generally include a great deal of pastel colors, seersucker patterns, and fancy hats (the bigger, the better).
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Now, one lingering question for horse racing fans who plan on attending this event’s mind is how do I dress so as to not stick out like a sore thumb (or be denied access to certain areas because i’m underdressed)? We’ve compiled some information below that should answer any questions you may have going into the Kentucky Derby if you’re not planning on going all out in a three-piece suit.
Keep in mind that there is NOT a dress code for those who bought general admission tickets for the Derby, but that event staff can of course deny entry to anybody who has attire on that is deemed “inappropriate” (i.e. cover up enough so as to not cause a stir and no offensive graphics and/or language to play it safe).
Dress Codes (Infield Excluded)
There are three (3) separate “categories” that the venue itself specifies for attendees. They are as follows:
This is a style of dress where jackets are preferred, and clothing items like shirts with collars, vests, blazers, sweaters, dresses, capri pants, slacks and pantsuits are appropriate. Things that are NOT permitted in these areas are athletic wear, tennis shoes, shorts, jeans or any sort of denim, halter tops and tee shirts. Keep in mind that while encouraged, this dress code doesn’t apply to kids under 12 years old.
For what’s deemed “smart casual,” blazers and jackets are optional, and items like shirts with collars, vests, blazers, sweaters, dresses, slacks and dressy jeans and pantsuits are appropriate. Things that are NOT permitted in these areas are athletic wear, tennis shoes, shorts, jeans or any sort of denim, halter tops and tee shirts. Just like “business casual,” while encouraged, this dress code doesn’t apply to kids under 12 years old.
“Track casual” deems jackets and blazers optional, while dress jeans, sweaters, slacks, dresses, pantsuits, vests, capris, and shirts with collars are appropriate. Things considered “inappropriate attire” are halter tops, athletic wear, torn or frayed garments or denim, and midriff tops.
Take a look below at this chart provided by the official track website that clearly outlines what sections of the venue consider what sort of dress appropriate or acceptable.
Dress Codes for The Infield
If you’ve purchased tickets to hang out in the infield all day, you’re in for an excellent time. All of the above dress code information can essentially be thrown out the window, as you’ll notice there’s a large disparity between those Derby-goers dressed in their finest blazers and fancy hats and those dealing with the elements in the infield (though that’s not to say there won’t be fans still dressing nice among their friends).
In short, we’d advise against nudity and pretty much anything else should play. We’d recommend bringing a pair of flip flops – especially if the forecast calls for rain – to handle muddy elements, and at the end of the day, you’ll want to be comfortable (and hydrated) if you’re hanging out in the sun all day.
We hope that this information proved to be helpful, and if you have any questions regarding the cheapest tickets for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill downs, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or in the comments below!