Coachella Meets Derby: Taking Your Style from Festival to Racetrack

Pop Culture
Canva photo

When you think of “Derby Fashion,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Hats? Tea dresses? Pinstripe suits? Maybe florals? All of those iconic concepts are deeply rooted in the culture of horse racing, and you are bound to see each of them at the track this season.

But there’s another setting that supports some pretty clear fashion ideas, and that’s spring and summer music festivals. Every year, you don’t have to do anything more than log on to TikTok to see the trends being set by festival-goers nationwide. Two iconic settings. Two distinct vibes and looks.

So, I have to ask: Can Derby fashion meet Festival fashion in 2022? Before you start telling me I’m crazy, hear me out …

Trends Frequently Seen at Coachella: Florals, Neons, Pastels, Fashion Risks, Crowns, Sparkle

Trends Frequently Seen at the Kentucky Derby: Florals, Brights, Pastels, Hats (I mean, c’mon, it’s the MET Gala of headwear!)

… So are the two really that far apart?

And if we invite and accept people to take more fashion risks at the track, can we change the demographic of people enjoying the sport and make it part of a new generation’s culture? Heck, we have the day-drinking, the fashion, the opportunity to make money, to cheer on an athlete, to get pics for the ’gram … Millennials and Gen Z should be all over this thing!

So how do we get there? Here are four ways to take your festival looks to the track this summer:

  • Keep The Print!

Every spring and summer, the runways and fashion blogs explode with bright prints (s/o Miranda Priestly: “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.”

And, lucky for us, it is entirely appropriate and encouraged to embrace those prints sipping a vodka soda under neon lights in the desert or having a Mint Julep at Churchill Downs.

Canva photo

Sarah Cline photo

  • Gussy Up

One of the biggest differences between Festival Royalty and Racetrack Royalty is the standard of dress. So this one goes out to all my majesties looking for an excuse to get “fancy.”

Cut-off shorts and sports bras are not gonna “cut it” at the track or in the surrounding clubs/restaurants. But that’s no reason to feel limited in your fashion. If anything, it’s an opportunity to embrace a silhouette you haven’t tried before!

Swap a midriff-baring crop top for an equally sexy, bodycon cocktail dress (a track favorite of mine) or throw a blazer over the satin, printed button up. Boom. Now you look expensive and steeplechase-savvy.

Sarah Cline photo

  • Take A Step Back in Time!

While festival fashion is known for being extremely contemporary (We love seeing what wild, sparkly thing Gen Z will wear next!), racetrack fashion provides an opportunity to explore a different era of dress.

Ever wanted to rock a pinup style from the 1950s or a flapper look from the 1920s? Now’s your chance.

Fashion risks come in all shapes and sizes, colors, and eras, and with thrift shopping at all-time high popularity, what better time to go vintage? (Sites like Poshmark, Depop, and The RealReal are some of my favorites).

Canva photo

America's Best Racing photo

  • Pump Up the Volume on Headwear

Okay, this one’s easy. ANYTHING GOES. In either setting! Whether you wear a crown, hat, fascinator, or headpiece, your fellow festival goers AND your fellow horse lovers will undoubtedly “ooh” and “ah” and wish they had something as fabulous. A golden goddess crown at the racetrack? A butterfly fascinator at Lollapalooza? It’s a yes from me, dawg.

Canva photo

Sarah Cline photo

If you know me, you know that headwear is one of my favorite forms of self-expression, but I get asked all the time how I am brave enough to wear crowns or other items out in public. This is how! This is where we start: Finding places where it feels “safer” to take a risk because most people there are!

So, have fun, express yourselves, and I can’t wait to see more fashion-forward Queens, Kings, and Majesties at the track this summer.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!