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  • Writer's pictureJulie Diana

5 Famous American Hat Events

Updated: Apr 9



We hat lovers in America often find ourselves gazing thirstily across the pond.


We watch Kate Middleton in her wool pillboxes, Queen Maxima in her silk-draped toques, and Duchess Sophie of Edinburgh in straw saucers.


We are teased with photos of stylish Australian stylemakers donning cocktail hats at the horseraces. Posh UK weddings boast an abundance of hats, most notably perched on the mother of the bride. Have you seen the heavenly womens hat department at Harrod's?


Alas, we need not spend all our hat energy looking to greener pastures.


Model Nikki Taylor at the Kentucky Derby.


5 Famous American Hat Events

We have our own hat events, right here in America. And our own hat traditions to boot. (Literally, many of us wear them with boots). Some of these hat events date back to the late 19th century.


Scroll for pictures from 5 famous American hat events. These well-known gatherings are attended by famous actresses, singers, and businesswomen.


You'll also discover where to buy hats for each event. All of the hat shopping websites in this article are based in the US.


1. The Kentucky Derby


The Kentucky Derby is horserace held each year in early May. Based in Churchill Downs, KY, it's been a staple of American hat-wearing (and horseracing) since 1875.


Hat fashions at the derby are dazzling. Pastels, brights, and florals are popular. If you plan to attend, note that it's considered bad luck to wear a black hat or dress. Navy and white are the most traditional colors.









There are so many hat-wearing events surrounding the Derby itself, including the Kentucky Derby Festival Fashion Show, and numerous derby parties.



Several other races surround the main event. The Kentucky Oaks race is held the Friday before. The Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes horseraces are held in the following weeks. They are all great sources of hat inspiration.




Kentucky Derby-goers support an industry of local milliners and hat supply shops. My favorite is Judith M Millinery Supply, which has a great website here.


Where to find derby hats:

If you are looking for an upscale handmade hat for the derby, browse the Forme Millinery website. You can also find couture hats on The Hat Girls website here. Both milliners also have physical stores in Kentucky.


For more affordable derby hats, try The Hat Hive, based in Utah, and Young Hat, based in North Carolina.



2. The Met Gala

The Costume Institute in NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts an annual themed gala. Held on the first Monday in May, it celebrates and publicizes the Institute's latest exhibit. The event is attended by dozens of prominent actors, singers, and fashion designers.


Previous themes have included "In America: An Anthology of Fashion," "Heavenly Bodies," and "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity."


Each year at the gala, designer outfits are paired with hats and futuristic headpieces.






Where you can find hats like this:

Many small Etsy shops offer futuristic metallic headpieces like those often worn at the gala.


This metallic sunburst crown is handmade to order in California. You can customize the number of gold butterflies on this stunning handmade crown.


You can find a beaded pearl cap similar to the one pictured above here.


3. The Rodeo

Hats are abundant at the rodeo. You'll see cowboy and Western-inspired hats on fans and riders alike.


The most popular rodeo events include the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the National Western Stock Show. The outdoor Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Frontier Days parade also draw a large crowd, many wearing cowboy hats.






Where to find Western hats:

Charlie 1 Horse Hats makes affordable Western-inspired headwear. Their ladies fashion hats are stylish, available in several sizes, and available on Amazon.


Stetson also makes Western-inspired fashion cowboy hats. This one is available in 5 sizes!


4. Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

NYC's Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival dates back to the 1870s. It began as an outdoor fashion show. Upscale ladies would exhibit their holiday finery after holiday worship services.


Today the parade is about whimsy and creativity.







Where you can find hats like this:

Channel the parade's romantic spirit with this ultra-wide brim pink straw hat by Millinery Supply Shop.


For an even bolder statement, consider this enormous flower headpiece.


5. The Central Park "Hat" Luncheon

You'll find an abundance of ladylike hats at the annual Central Park Conservancy Luncheon. It's held each June in Central Park's Conservatory Garden.


The hats often feature pastels and florals. Ladies wear them with elegant, polished outfits.










Where to find hat like this:

Many of the luncheon guests wear couture hats from Suzanne Hats on 61st street. Their hats are exquisite works of art. You can find similar yet affordable handmade hats from Chicago-based Millinery Supply Shop.


If you are interested in a dressy straw hatinator for under $100, try this one by San Diego Hat Co. This wide-brim straw hat by Coolibar is more casual, but can be dressed up with silk millinery flowers.


Thank you for reading

Kudos to these events for carrying the torch of American hat-wearing! I hope this article gives you more confidence to wear the hats you love.



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