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Dressing for The Kentucky Derby

March 20th, 2019


At Cad & The Dandy we relish a reason to get dressed up, and our stateside expansion has seen some exciting additions to our sartorial sporting calendar. Back home, Royal Ascot is the big annual racing fixture, an event for which we have dressed patrons and Royals alike. However, this year’s Kentucky Derby is vying for our equestrian sporting top spot.

We’ve been told that the UK’s traditional racing dress (morning suit) is too formal for the Kentucky Derby, presenting an ideal occasion to embrace ‘The Dandy’ in our name. As with all bespoke tailoring commissions, the main decisions to be made are cloth choice, styling options and wearability. Here we take you through the US team’s custom tailoring advice for the day.



The official web site of Churchill Downs, home of the world famous Kentucky Derby, lists Business Casual as the most appropriate dress code for the event.

For most men attending the event, seersucker, panama hats and spectator shows, accessorized with a mint julep, are de rigeur. For the advanced fashion crowd, vibrant spring and summer patterns featuring bold shades of orange, green, pink and blue are the order of the day.

As flamboyant an occasion as the sporting calendar allows, the Kentucky Derby is an ideal opportunity to go big or go home. As well as making a statement, the two main factors when considering your cloth choice are weight and versatility. A sharp overall look for the day with a view on unforeseen changes in the weather will always be the biggest win.

Gladson’s Carlo Barbera suiting and jacketing cloths are a great choice for the time of year, weighing at between 7 ½ – 8oz. Their reputation for innovative patterns, colors and design make for a strong, standout look.


For a cleaner, more classic approach, Cerrutis’ Oxygen seersucker is both elegant and unique. Opt for a deep navy shade and the cool feel of the cloth will work as well at the Derby as on the beaches of Miami and a summer weekend in NYC.


For even greater impact, opt for stand out separates. Jacketing fabrics from the Moonbeam bunch are incredibly soft (similar to cashmere) with an excellent drape. At 10 oz these make for ideal 3 season sportscoats that can be paired with chinos and jeans as an alternative to the classic blue blazer.


A key consideration when selecting cloth for your custom pants is to keep the jacket and pant fabrics aligned in their texture. The best approach is to opt for combinations that blend similar textures, working to bring the outfit together.

Bespoke tailoring offers an exhaustive range of style choices so it’s important to fight the urge to over customize. Try to keep things simple and functional. Go for an unstructured jacket – a crowd favourite Stateside – which uses a lighter Swedish canvas, soft shoulder and a cut which allows it to be dressed up or down, as the occasion demands.

No one wants to be the clown in the crowd. You’ll always wear it better if you align your style choices closely with your personal aesthetic. That may be simple and classic, serious and strong, light hearted and relaxed or timelessly elegant.



In terms of wearability after the Derby, selecting a custom three piece suit means both the pants and jacket can be worn as individual separates, with the added versatility for future mix and match options. When temperatures begin to drop, layer up with the full three piece ensemble. During warmer months, wear as a two piece with either vest and pants, or jacket and pants.


Separates present multiple mix and match options. Go for a 10 oz cloth for sportscoats that can be worn across 3 seasons and easily paired with chinos and jeans as an alternative to the classic blue blazer.

Whatever your choices, Cad & The Dandy’s custom silhouette, with its crafted cut and make, will deliver your stand out look on the day.

KentuckyDerby.com – What to Wear

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