Of course, that's not what we did at all. We instead braved the 47 degree temperatures and constant downpours because doggone-it we'd been waiting for this experience since we bought the tickets last August. We'd prepped and planned and primped and we were going darnit.
|In spite of our pleasant expressions in this shot (which we took as soon as we arrived and after which we all bundled up as much as possible), we were cold and damp most of the day on Friday at the Oaks.|
|Derby Day was much more pleasant with warmer temperatures, intermittent rain, and occasional sun.|
The last time we went, I wrote a Derby Dos and Don'ts post, and I must say that I'm going to have to eat some of my words when it comes to surviving the Oaks and Derby in the dreary, drizzly damp and cold. I guess my judginess is adaptable. I've decided to frame that as a positive character trait.
The pictures in this post are from both the Oaks on Friday and the Derby on Saturday. OK. Here we go.
Derby Don't #1 comes straight from my precious father-in-law, Steve. Don't wear a hat under your hat, especially when one of them is a maroon toboggan and one is a straw fedora. (Well, unless it's 47 degrees and rainy. You won't be a fashionista, but you'll be more comfortable than those of us who are more vain.)
|Steve carries a blanket while waiting for the shuttle at the Kentucky Exposition Center where we parked.|
And this adorable picture of Steve brings me to Derby Do #1 for a rainy, cold Derby weekend. Do bring blankets. Steve is carrying the one he and Lanita brought, and Josh and I brought one of those cheap fleece throws that are ubiquitous as Christmas gifts. They roll up nicely into a fairly small bundle, so it fit into my bag relatively well. I thought I would use it primarily for wrapping my completely-exposed-to-the-elements legs while at our seats, but we actually used it to sit on as well. We hadn't brought seat cushions (which are allowed), and our metal bleacher seats were surprisingly chilly. Sitting on the blanket helped keep us warmer, and as the day wore on, I did end up wrapping my legs in the blanket, too.
|My toes aren't blue. but they are numb.|
|This lady clearly worked really hard on her outfit and would be a total DO if the Derby were in February. But even a cute felt fascinator is still felt and thus only appropriate for winter.|
Derby Do #2 is whether you're a guy or a gal, do embrace color. This is true for every Derby, but on a Derby Day when the weather isn't cooperating, you need all the color you can get to lift your spirits. I know this may be hard for some of you dudes out there, especially those of you for whom just wearing a tie is a stretch, but this is really your chance to try out a colorful look. Seersucker suits with pastel ties, pink pants with a navy linen blazer, a khaki suit with an Easter-egg-hued bowtie, even a little bit of a whimsical pattern on the trousers -- all of these brighten up a dreary day and are perfect for the Derby and Oaks. Just look at the guys below who are not afraid to show some color. I love it.
|This yellow lace dress with its matching fascinator was faaaaabulous!|
|A colorful hat with a winning smile brightens up even the dreariest Derby Day!|
|Can you say, "Cleavage?"|
|I'm guessing he likes the view from his seat.|
Derby Do #3, unfortunately, is do leave your umbrella at home. Churchill Downs doesn't allow them, and they will be taken away at the entrance. I didn't get a picture, but there was a HUGE pile of confiscated umbrellas at Gate 1, and I assume there were similar piles of contraband at every other gate. I was hoping that a clear umbrella would be acceptable, but I left it at home when I read the list of items not permitted.
|These signs were posted at the Kentucky Expo Center where we picked up the shuttle bus.|
Derby Don't #4 is exclusively for rainy days. Don't wear a poncho that isn't clear. This is a sporting event, I know, but it's not the kind with a seventh inning stretch. So bring a clear poncho. You've probably spent a lot of time and money planning your outfit, and with a clear one, at least it can still be seen.
Normally, I would be saying, "Just suck it up and forego the poncho altogether because they're really just glorified trash bags that are cheap and flimsy and tacky and don't really keep that much water off anyway." But that comment would be coming from someone who had never before experienced a Derby in the rain. And now I have, so I fully embrace the clear poncho. While my paternal grandmother always says that you have to suffer to be beautiful, it's just miserable to be wet and cold in a dress and heels for 10 hours. I'll trade a little beauty to suffer a little less.
That said, if you have one, you should totally embrace my 4th rainy day Derby Do. Do wear a cute trench coat that matches or coordinates with your outfit.
|I spotted this cutie patootie while hiding out in the ladies' room by the hand dryers where it was seriously 10 degrees warmer. I wanted to just stay in there forever. Isn't her little navy polka dot trench adorable? She's a total Do.|
Derby Don't #5 is another repeat from before. Don't go on a craft store buying spree and then hot glue all of it to your hat. You'll look like Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics had a baby that then puked on your head. And this is from a girl who loves feathers and flowers and ribbon and vintage brooches and coils of sinamay! I love them all! But when they're all together on one hat they just make you look like a toddler playing dress up and piling on all her grandmother's accessories.
|Flowers, and ribbon, and rhinestones, oh my! And I'm pretty sure the lady in the right just bought one of those flower garland thingys and wrapped it around her head. (And down her back.)|
|I'm certainly not one to shy away from hat embellishments, but Lanita, Kelsey, and I prefer to put professional milliners in charge of our hats.|
|No muddy footprints on my bleacher seat thanks to the never-worn flip flops I tucked in my purse!|
|The disgusting results of muddy feet on bleachers. Ew.|
|A cute little trench and a pair of Wellies are perfect for a rainy Derby or Oaks Day. I think I like her hat, too, though I can't quite decide for sure. The color and the sculptural shape are cool, but it's pretty big, isn't it?|
|This look is NOT going to win her a $10,000 Longines watch.|
|Not quite a Glamour Do, but more like a Glamour Doing-the-Best-I-Can. Plus I lucked out and found a pair of gloves stuffed into my pockets, so that was a big-time win.|
|My oh-so-dapper husband stood in the rain and cold with me for over an hour!|
Here's basically what happened. You first walk onto the carpet, and they photograph you holding up your number while standing beside a case that holds the $10,000 watch. Then the guy standing there tells you to walk in front of the judges but that if they want to talk to you, they'll ask. Well, I decided right then and there to ignore that part completely. I was definitely going to take the opportunity to talk to Ms. Goodacre while I had the chance. After all, I'd spent the better part of my twenties making choices about what sleepwear, underwear, and swimwear to buy based on her photographs. I certainly wasn't going to let a chance to talk to her pass me by.
Anyway, I walked over (or perhaps wandered over like a little lost nursing home patient) and said hello. Then I said, "OK, I have to ask you something. I heard a rumor years ago that your husband sends you roses every single day. Is that true?" Harry Connick, Jr. has the reputation of being quite the hopeless romantic, and I wanted confirmation that the originator of the soundtrack of my college years was, in fact, as dreamy as I'd always thought. She smiled and said, "Well, not every day but many days!" Then I said, "Well, it's really nice to meet you. I've admired you for years," or something else equally asinine to which she charmingly responded, "You're very sweet. And you look lovely!" Then comes the part in the video that, were it not there in full color, I would not believe really happened because I had blocked it out completely. I start to walk away and then say something to all of them and make some sweeping hand gesture thing. I have no idea what depths of stupidity I stooped to at that point. Maybe I said something like, "I've admired you all!" or "You all look great!" or "Which way to the bathroom?!" Who knows? But after that, I continue my elderly-assisted-living-style walk across the carpet, not quite sure what to do next. Nevertheless, I'd do it again if I were to ever go back on Oaks Day. And you should, too.
|Jill Goodacre is seated on the left and Steffi Graf is on the far right.|
Derby Don't #7 is don't dress as if you're going to the prom. This is not a time to go all matchy-matchy with your date or to don your sparkliest cocktail dress. You're not in high school, and no one is giving you a corsage. It's a horse race, not a high school dance.
|Without her gray sweater on, she is a DO... until her boyfriend walks up matching her.|
|Again, she is a total DO...until he shows up beside her.|
|A full-length, gold-sequined jumpsuit would make you the envy of the twinkle-light-bedecked and teen-angst-filled high-school gym, but it's not the right look for the Derby.|
Derby Don't #8 is don't wear a hat that is bigger than your torso. (And the first girl below is a Double Don't because she paired her floral monstrosity with a white sequined cocktail dress.) If people see you and think, "Is there a person under there?" your hat is too big.
|Like, how did she get in the CAR to get here???!!!!|
|I mean, I love me some peacock feathers, but let's not put the whole peacock on our heads.|
|This one would make Dr. Seuss proud!|
|And an iridescent unicorn purse to boot...|
Derby Do #8 is do be cautious about buying your hat from a department store rather than a milliner. The hat you see pictured below was worn by no fewer than EIGHT different ladies! The pictures below represent only two of them, and those eight are just the ones I happened to see. I'm betting there were more. You may be wondering how I noticed eight matching hats in a sea of hats. Well, it's because I bought the same hat! I had thought about wearing it, but it ended up being uncomfortable and plus I like the one I found made by Chef Bizzaro Millinery much better. So I took the one I had bought back to Nordstrom. But, apparently, everyone shops at Nordstrom for pink hats. Or, actually, this one pink hat. Maybe it doesn't bother you to see other people dressed like you or wearing your hat, but I'd far prefer to have a one-of-a-kind creation made by a professional.
|This lady has on the hat I almost chose for the Oaks.|
|So does the lady on the right.|
|This lady does, too, though she's added a vintage brooch to it.|
And while we're on the subject of hats Derby Don't #9 is don't wrap your hat in plastic while it's still on your head. You look like you're wearing a lampshade that's still in the packaging. Either suck it up and wear the hat in the rain, or take off the hat and wrap it in plastic to protect it. Don't do both at the same time.
And Derby Do #9 is, for heaven's sake. keep your hat on your own head, not your boyfriend's/husband's/date's. That's just stupid.
|I have no explanation for this weirdness.|
|I mean, I wanted to curl up in a coat and hide from the elements, too, but putting your hat on your boyfriend's head? What?|
|Fishnets, feathers, and a feisty black corset are more suited to a night out in Vegas than a day at the Derby.|
If you're a guy, Derby Do #10 is do wear seersucker, even in the rain. It looks smashing and you won't be alone because lots of men wear it at the Derby. Just don't wear a Bulls cap with it.
|Kelsey and Steve are both DOs! Steve bought this seersucker suit just for this occasion.|
|This guy would be a total DO if it weren't for that hat.|
|I know it's cold, but this is still a DON'T.|
|We all particularly loved singing "My Old Kentucky Home" together before the Derby. You can see in this picture how low the ceiling was over our seats.|
|This was the tiny sliver that I could see while standing on my seat during the Derby.|
|Makes me want a hot dog and some sparklers.|
Derby Do #12 is do take time to do some people watching - and listening. Of course we saw lots of funny, strange, and interesting things....
|I think this one is all three - funny, strange, and interesting.|
|Fake ivy garland and empty miniature Jim Beam bottles as hat embellishments would fall into the strange category, I think.|
|You'd think a sombrero would be one of the weirdest hats you'd see, but you'd be wrong. The dude in the lower right has a cardboard model of Churchill Downs on his head.|
|People watching also lets you appreciate the people who completely nail the Derby and Oaks look.|
...but we also heard some gems during the day. My favorite came from a guy who, like us, was walking past the entrance to Millionaire's Row. This is the area where the social elites, owners, celebrities, and corporate sponsors get to go, and peons like us who don't have the highly-coveted tickets and arm bands are left on the outside looking longingly. As he watched the parade of who's whos marching confidently into the exclusive area, he muttered to his friend, "Peasantry sucks." I have to agree with him.
Another memorable comment came from the sweet lady who drove our shuttle bus from the Kentucky Expo Center to Churchill Downs (and who was wearing a perfectly-appropriate-for-a-Derby-bus-driver horse hat on her head). As we got off the shuttle, she said to us in her rural-Kentucky drawl, "I hope y'all all stay dry and purty." (Translation: pretty.)
|If you're driving the shuttle bus, I think wearing a horse on your head on Derby Day is actually a DO.|
|Even the rain doesn't change my mind about this one.|
|Horse-themed books and movies were on the tables in case we wanted to read or watch a movie, and a replica of the blanket of roses that is draped over every Derby-winning horse was in the entryway.|
|In the kitchen, napkins, plates, glasses, and even the displayed cookbook kept to the Derby theme. Of course, fresh roses in silver mint julep cups were the flower of choice for the weekend since the Derby is also known as The Run for the Roses.|
|The themeing wasn't just limited to the indoors. The porch was also decked in Derby decor.|