The Art of Hat Making

Kentucky Derby 101: What To Wear, When to Wear It, and All About Hats!

After sending people to the Kentucky Derby for over 20 years, there is so much that my clients have taught me! So, as the weather warms up and we start to daydream about ice cold mint juleps, fancy fascinators, and Derby fashion, I wanted to share a little Kentucky Derby 101 for all of my friends who want to look the part on that special day at the track.

The History of Kentucky Derby Hats

Dating back to the famous Royal Ascot in 1711, it was ordered that guests in the Royal Enclosure follow a strict dress code including hats for women during the English horse races. When Col. Meriweather Lewis Clark traveled to the Grand Prix de Paris in 1872, he came back to America determined to establish a similar high-profile horse race. Clark and his wife enlisted the ladies of Louisville to attend the races to picnic with friends. According to Time Magazine, they knew part of creating the allure for the event would be positioning it as a fashion event so the dress code required “full morning dress” for men and women from the start. Today, patrons of the Kentucky Derby, taking place on the first Saturday in May each year, have been putting their fashion sense on parade since 1875.

What To Know Before You Go

There are a few simple rules to follow at the Derby:

  1. The most important characteristic of a Kentucky Derby hat is originality. Don’t be afraid to show off your personality with your hat!
  2. Let your hat be the star of the show by pairing it with a simple dress – and of course, make it sure matches. At HOM we always say, pick a dress to match your hat!
  3. If you are picking a hat before April 15th, I recommend finding your dress first. It helps narrow down your field of hat choices and makes deciding on a shape easier. We love it when people come in with 4 or 5 dresses as it gives us some latitude in what to wear it with. If you are coming in after April 15th, don’t panic. We still have lots of hats! However, there are way more dress options at that point than hats. Make life easier on yourself and pick a hat first, then find something to match.
  4. All of our hats come with boxes to make traveling easier. If it is under 22″, the box can be your airplane carry-on. Otherwise, you will need to check it with your luggage or ship it to your hotel in advance. I recommend mailing it priority 3-day, scheduled to arrive the Wednesday before so you have a few buffer days if something happens in transit.
  5.  Your hat should go down on the right, not the left, so nothing will be in your way as you watch the horses come around the track.
  6. Pick an outfit that you can wear all day and will pair well with a jacket, flats, and can handle rain. It’s not the time for flimsy fabric that might become inappropriate when wet.
  7. Again weather…it can be hot or humid or rainy or cold. Be prepared for any and all weather situations! Your outfit needs to be a bit of a chameleon.
  8. We see a lot of fascinators on Oaks Day and big hats on Derby Day. They can be packed in the same box and it gives you different looks for your photos. That being said, it is not hard a hard and fast rule. There are few occasions to wear these kinds of hats anymore (unless you are a British royal), so this is the chance to let your fantasies come out!
  9. Your hat style depends on your seats! In the seated area at Churchill Downs, known as Millionaires Row, you will see big brims and stylish fascinators. This is mostly because you don’t have to worry about rain or wind ruining your previous investment. These hats tend to be stylish and elegant, adorned with giant silk flowers, large bows, and beautiful ribbons. Whereas, in the infield, hats tend to be more eclectic and exotic. You will see more of a variety of shapes and sizes. Hats are not required in the Infield but trendsetters typically use hats to express their personalities here.
  10. There are rules on purse size BUT not hat size!

What is Oaks Day?

The Longines Kentucky Oaks is the race for 3-year-old fillies – female horses – held on the day before the Derby. The race was also established in 1875 and celebrates fashion and fundraising for critical women’s health issues. On Oaks Day you “pink out!” The historic race track is decorated in pink bunting and the more than 100,000 guests are asked to prominently incorporate pink into their attire in an effort to raise funds and drive national attention to the fight against breast and ovarian cancer. The event culminates in the Survivors Parade – a march of breast and ovarian cancer survivors that takes place on the racetrack.

Oaks Day Fashion

If you are planning to attend the Kentucky Oaks, you are encouraged to wear any color as long as it is PINK! From hats to handkerchiefs, suits to sundresses, sunglasses to stilettos! They even have the Oak Fashion Contest where you can show off your pink duds for an opportunity to win a Longines timepiece. Fashion is a key element of Oaks Day. It’s a day to get dressed in your finest, frilliest, most feminine attire and have a great time with the girls!

The HAT is the most traditional and important accessory on Oaks Day (headbands and fascinators are perfectly acceptable, too). So, start thinking now about your Kentucky Oaks ensemble – and extra points for wearing PINK!

Derby Tips

  1. Lather on the SPF – it’s nearly summertime in the Bluegrass State!
  2. Pick your horses the night before. You’ll want to head to the gambling line first thing!
  3. Ditch your heels! If you’re in the Infield, pack a pair of flats. Trust us.
  4. Practice: “Lou-a-vul” not “Lou-is-ville.” If you want to fit in with the locals.
  5. Don’t forget your bow tie, boys!
  6. Stop by the Brown Hotel for an Haute Brown. Arguably Kentucky’s most famous snack.
  7. Grab a piece of Derby Pie from Kern’s Kitchen.
  8. Enjoy a Mint Julep.
  9. Bring an umbrella with you to Kentucky. You can’t bring it inside the track, but if it is a gusher, you aren’t trying to buy one there with everyone else.
  10. If it is raining, carry your hats into the track in a plastic bag. Once inside, you can throw away the bag and don your topper.

Padded Headband Class

I am so excited to utilize my new space by offering millinery classes this year!  We are starting off with something cosy and fun.  Join me on Thursday, February 20th from 7-8:30 pm to bead, feather, and veil a padded headband.  I’ll provide some nibbles, drinks, and assistance..you bring creativity and conversation.  $85 per person and I have slots for 7 in the studio.  Message me for more info!  Walk away looking like your own Princess Kate or Megan.

Welcome to 2020

Somehow we are out of the January fog, February is at the door, and it is time to start thinking about the Kentucky Derby.  We have some gorgeous men’s and women’s felt hats at the studio right now and are also available for custom hats any time out of felt or straw.  We will be focusing the next few weeks on some new derby ideas and can’t wait to see all of our new and returning clients this Spring.  The studio is open most Tuesday- Fridays 10-2:30 (or 5) and Saturdays 11-4.  You can always call 214-942-1966 for an appointment.  Below are pictures of what is inspiring us right now!

 

Holiday Hours

The new studio at 407 W. 10th Street will be open from 12-3 on Sunday the 22nd and 11-4 on Monday the 23rd but then we will be closed until 2020 to celebrate the holidays with our family.  Stop on by for gift certificates, hats, headbands, and other stocking stuffers.  If you are in need of a hat on Christmas Eve day send us a message and I can do a gift certificate over email. Happy Holidays and thank you all for helping to make 2019 a happy and successful year.  You are appreciated!  Cassie

HOM Gift Guide: For the guy in your life

Shopping for the guy in your life can be uninspiring and challenging but have no fear…we have some unique, classic, and stylish gifts at HOM (and it doesn’t involve electric shavers or the same old cologne you get every year!).

If he likes to look polished at his office meetings…

 

Lapel pins have reasserted themselves as big-hitters in the men’s fashion world. These are a great way to complete a work ensemble, so if you have ever wanted to treat your guy to something unique, lapel pins are versatile items for the male fashion arsenal. It adds such a personal touch to your outfit! They look fantastic with pocket squares, too! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the traditionalist…

 

 

 

A classic felt hat – soft charcoal and such a great match for the vintage tie silk behind it!

 

 

For the hat lover looking for something different…

 

A relaxed and comfortable fit with the Cha Chas House of Ill Repute signature leather edge makes this hat universally flattering on any guy.

 

 

 

For the guy who’s a little extra…

 

This mink felt with splatter trim was designed by a client in this color scheme to wear on game day with a little maroon splatter paint. We can customize something like this for you, too! The splatter paint hats are really fun.

 

 

For the guy who wants something a little wider…

 

 

We can custom make pieces like this in your color preferences!

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget! If you don’t have time to shop, gift certificates are a great idea, too. We can ship our tiny hat gift certificates to you. They are $245 for a felt hat and allow your giftee to come into the studio and pick out what they want at their leisure. 

HOM Gift Guide: For your best friend or mom.

Everything she needs from bows in her hair to a fancy fascinator of her own…

We have gift guides! I’m excited to say that I’ve put together a few features that give you some ideas for different recipients on your shopping list! We have more than just hats and some great items at different price points. Today, we are kicking things off with goodies for your best friend or mom. It’s a great time to pop into our new location at 407 West 10th Street in Bishop Arts! The easiest way to find the new shop is off Bishop in the courtyard behind Black Swan Yoga, next to Trompo Tacos.

If she’s fashion-forward and in-the-know…

She will LOVE our velvet headbands! Padded headbands are a HUGE trend right now. Prada debuted these at their Spring 2019 fashion show and they have been hot ever since. Royal style experts call them “hatbands” and we have velvet and embellished options at $65!

If she loves to accessorize, our berets and bows are perfect! 

 

Our bow combs are perfect to pop into any hairstyle for a pick-me-up! These are perfecting stocking stuffers at $38!

 

 

 

We have some fantastic color combos for our berets this year and these are a wonderful gift. At $55, these are a great option berets are on trade this season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SO many fun ways to style a pom beret!

 

If she loves animal print – and animal print is SO in this season…

 

 

Buy this fascinator for yourself, open it up on Christmas morning like it’s a gift from Santa! It’s that fantastic! This beauty is $285.


 

 

 

 

Who wouldn’t love this lux leopard fedora? $278

 

 

 

 

Anything with leopard is hot right now. This teal velour with leopard trim is $255.

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous leopard beret. $278.

 

 

 

 

 

And if she loves a vintage flair…

 

 

 

A charming bucket hat will take her back on Christmas morning. $165.

 

 

 

Happy Gifting!

Change is good y’all…

Change is good and the hat shop is making it’s move from 614 W. Davis St to a ground floor location at Bishop and 10th St. just a few blocks away.  We will be making the transition over the week of Thanksgiving and will be open for appointments at the new spot the week of December 2nd.  If you are in need of a hat over the holiday, email us at info@thehouseofmacgregor.com or call 214-942-1966.  I will be selling a selection of hats on Saturday November 30th at Neighborhood Store on Bishop and 7th as well so stop on by and say hi.  In the meantime, check out the mural on our new location and the progress on the inside.  This is going to be a lovely location to welcome our clients to and I am beyond excited!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Cha Cha’s House of Ill Repute at the HOM

We are a custom hat shop at the House of MacGregor but I also have the pleasure of selling other talented milliner’s hats at the studio too.  I’ve been a fan of Cha Cha’s hats for close to 20 years and it’s so great to have her men’s and women’s styles at the studio.  Her feather work is off the charts this year and that leather edge is a signature.  Our shipment just came in so we have a good range to try on at the studio.  We are available by appointment Tuesday through Saturday but barring any appointments are in 10-4 during the week and 11-4 on Saturdays.  Come on by!

Big Bend Inspiration

My family and I spent an amazing weekend camping in a teepee at Basecamp Terlingua mid October.  If this place is not on your bucket list it should be!  The stars were amazing and so was the porch at the Starlight restaurant.  We hooped the big hoop and picked up these little Milagros which ended up inspiring a new hat.  The studio will be open 10-4 this week and 10-2 on Saturday.  Come on by!

In the studio this week…

The hat shop is open by appointment Tuesday through Saturday (just call first 214-942-1966) but we are open for walk in’s Friday the 25th from 10-4 and Saturday the 26th from 11-4.  We make men’s and women’s custom hats as well as having pre-made hats off the shelf.   Here’s a peak at some new pieces we have for sale!