One of the oldest traditions of the Kentucky Derby is high fashion, including ladies' hats. In England for the races the royals and their guest always wore their finest clothes. It was required that ladies wear hats.
When Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (founder of the Derby) started the race in 1875, he mandated full morning dress for men and women. This included hats for women. As time passed, the Kentucky Derby became a tradition to show off the latest Spring fashions. By the 1960s the hats became larger, brighter and very extravagant.
There are pictures of the newest hats available on the web. There are expensive ones and not so expensive one. Their are straw hats and very elaborate hats with veils.
The only mandate is that a lady must wear a hat to the Kentucky Derby.
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