Pimlico Fashion a Sight to Behold on Preakness Weekend

Events / Travel
An elegant moment in the grandstand on Black-Eyed Susan Stakes day at Pimlico. (Julie June Stewart photo)

They hold a special place of honor in closets and drawers in the greater Baltimore Metropolitan area.  They can be vintage, trendy, on point, lucky, or sentimental. It all depends on the owner. Hats, scarves, shirts, ties, jewelry, dresses, and hats are tucked away for their once a year journey to Pimlico. It can be considered racetrack plumage. It’s the annual display of yellow-and-black finery on Preakness Stakes weekend. 

It’s traditional for many races to be associated with a particular color. Churchill Downs is blooming with every shade of pink on the first Friday of May when the fillies race in the Longines Kentucky Oaks. It is absolutely fantastic to see everyone embrace various shades of pink which lends a softness to the crowd. On the First Saturday of May, red roses rule the racetrack for the Kentucky Derby. Fans dress in elegant rose prints and embrace roses throughout their ensembles.

I have friends who travel from track to track attending all the major races. They sheepishly admit that their closets are organized by color for the races. There is pink for the Oaks, red for the Derby, shades of royal purple for the Breeders’ Cup, and yellow/black for the Preakness! They have also admitted that the purchase of a new clothing often depends on which race it will be worn at.  

A swirl of arriving guests. (Julie June Stewart photo)

The combination of yellow and black has been adopted by Preakness fans as their go-to, signature color for Preakness weekend. Even though the race flowers are called “Black-Eyed Susans,” in reality they are brown and yellow. No sweat! The brown version of the Black-Eyed Susan, which is the state flower of Maryland, is frequently found adorning hats throughout the grandstands. But the racetrack is proudly filled with every color-and-print combination of black and yellow. 

An elegant woman recently admitted that her classic, yellow-and-black color-block suit was 18 years old. The years were inconsequential as the suit was a perfect choice for Preakness weekend. The color combinations of yellow and black are endless. Mixed in swirling colorful prints and teamed with black hats and black boots, it takes on a fierce personality of its own. Worn in a diaphanous robe, it seems Grecian. Men embrace yellow shirts, colorful ties, and even yellow suits and black bowlers. 

The younger generation embraces pink, white, and pops of color. With great fun, they capture selfies in front of ponies in pink ribbons. Up in the grandstand protected from the rain, “Team Bride” sits in a perfect unit of pinks and florals with large, floppy hats. 

Preakness perfection. (Julie June Stewart photo)

Margie Hicks is the owner of Hats by Marjae. She opens a pop-up hat shop every year at the entrance to Pimlico. It is an absolute wonder to behold the large line of women lining up the moment she opens.  She doesn’t even have all of her hats out of their boxes and there are crowds of women trying on her original hat designs. “That looks good on you” is said over and over as friends hand hats to each other to try on. Margie’s hats are fun. They can be made of frolicking feathers or with whimsical style! Each hat makes a statement, and the crowd lingers with Margie and her staff long into the day, choosing perfect hats for Preakness day.

Like a symphony of music, the colors swirl and wrap around the track. It doesn’t matter what your age is when you are dressing for the track. A young baby who is learning how to walk toddles down the aisle in her perfect, yellow-and-black sun hat. Handicap mavens sport perfect floppy straw hats with Black-Eyed Susans. It’s just normal to tuck some flowers into one’s hat or pull out a lucky shirt. One can be fashion forward or racetrack vintage. It’s all appropriate on race day because it’s time to strut one’s style and join the festivities.

The track is the perfect place for horse-racing prints. Men are seen wearing sports jackets with hand painted images of their favorite Thoroughbred on the back. They also sport lucky horse shoe pinky rings in gold and diamonds. There is a woman catching everyone’s eye as she sports the perfect dress featuring jockeys riding speeding horses.   

Team bride. (Julie June Stewart photo)

Studies have shown that yellow is the most visible of colors. It is the first color that the human eye notices. Yellow and black pops as the highest contrast color combination and often evokes an emotional response. Why? Yellow is associated with happiness and joy and is the color of spring. It can be vibrant and attention getting. 

Tradition is valued in horse racing. A perfect outfit that fills the soul with joy is clothing well worn.  Tucked into the closets of Pimlico faithful are garments in lemon chiffon, sassy jonquil, sunshine yellow, elegant chartreuse, and the lovely jonquil. Even though it’s raining, it will be a sea of sunshine at the track as various yellow-and-black com

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