By Rebecca Carr
Photographs by Cathy Collins
For many women, the first thing that comes to mind when the invitation to the Kentucky Derby arrives is not horses, but what to wear — on their heads.
Wearing the right chapeau is as much a part of the Kentucky Derby as a mint julep in a silver cup. The tradition dates back to founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., who modeled the race after European-style racing events where men wore ascots and top hats.
There is a lot that goes into finding the right hat, said Anna Hickman, who oversees custom orders for Dee’s Hats, the largest Derby milliner in the country. Dee’s sold more than 10,000 hats this Derby season. Dee’s has 12 designers who work with customers on a one-on-one basis to find just the right color and amount of flowers and feathers. “The hat is always the cherry on the sundae,” said Hickman.