A guest post by Michael Herklots, VP of retail and brand development at Nat Sherman
When one thinks of the Kentucky Derby (which is coming up on May 6 and 7), a few things always come to mind. First, of course, the horses. They’re usually followed by frosty mint juleps and then, without a doubt, the style. Women and men dressed to the nines using the color palette of an Easter basket, never to repeat a color on an item. It can be intimidating to curate a look for your Kentucky Derby Day. Whether you’re lucky enough to be at Churchill Downs or attending any of the countless Derby Events around the country, you have to dress the part. However, all too often gents go from natty to nightmare quickly. Colors and patterns often collide in sartorial disarray, usually in ill-fitting, poorly made garments that are purchased the way you’d select a Halloween costume. Clothes chosen that way aren’t likely to remain wardrobe assets.
Vineyard Vines remains the official style of the Kentucky Derby. However, curating your entire look here will ensure that you will be wearing the same thing as everyone else and — despite your best attempt to stand out from the crowd in a daring outfit — you’ll simply become another dude in pink shorts with whales on them and a horseshoe bow tie.
So ... a few rules to dress for the Derby:
Pick one trophy item. The Derby is the day to push your limitations and get outside of the box. However, in order to do so you have to pick one thing that is daring and create a platform to support that one daring piece. It could be a bright color trouser, a paisley shirt, a wild bowtie, or specialty shoe.
Become inspired by color, not a victim of color. Select colors that complement each other. Create your palette by using colors that are related, rather than using only the primary and secondary colors. Select colors for your outfit the way you would select paint colors for a room. Then, incorporate textures and patterns to make those items stand out.
Focus on fit. At the end of the day, this is still an outfit. It is not a costume. Make sure your jacket cuffs rest at your watch and your shoulders follow the form of your body, rather than extending out like you’re in linebacker pads. Your pants should have a full break at most, but don’t be afraid to go with no break. The best dressed men at the Derby will be dressed in something they’d feel equally comfortable wearing on any summer weekend.
My picks for the 2016 Kentucky Derby
Trousers: Blue stripe Cotton Seersucker
Your party mates will be pushing their boundaries with Pink and Yellow, but stay classic with a Seersucker trouser like this one from Jos. A Bank.
Tip: buy the suit, but don’t be afraid to break it up and wear as separates.
Jacket: Blue Blazer with Peak Lapel
I know you think you own a blue blazer, but you don’t. You either have a jacket made from a material more akin to a table cloth, with big shoulder pads and brass buttons OR the top half of a blue suit, neither of which is appropriate or relevant. It’s time for an upgrade. The peak lapel gives a stronger presence, and creates a visual guide, bringing the eyes from the shoulder down to check out the rest of your duds. Take a look at this example on Suit Supply.