This is how to dress for the Kentucky Derby

How many occasions require a look from head to toe that’s totally special and over-the-top? Well, the Kentucky Derby comes to mind since is all about the hat and the clothes. I’m partnering with Audrey’s Sweet Threads, a fabulous women’s boutique at Eton Collection, to bring together great hats and lovely clothing to help you look your best. The outfit in the photo is a gorgeous tiered lace dress with subtle shots of gold. See how the light filters through the hat onto the model to produce a lacy effect? So elegant. Find Audrey’s Sweet Threads at 28601 Chagrin Blvd. in Woodmere. (216-831-8880) You can see two more of my hats to the left of the mannequin in the photo below.

A Great Kentucky Derby Look by What a Great Hat and Audrey's Sweet Threads

Another Kentucky Derby Hat

Here’s another fabulous Kentucky Derby hat in shades of cafe-au-lait and cream. It’s hand blocked and sewn – the marks of a well-made hat. Dreamy satin ribbon and vintage dotted trim add a splash of luxury and vintage feathers provide a touch of whimsy. Lovely and sophisticated!

Cafe au Lait wide brim Kentucky Derby Hat

Embracing the Color Green

A customer recently asked me to create a custom straw cloche to wear this summer. She’s currently in love with the color green (and as a strawberry blonde, she looks great in it!) and wanted a piece she could wear with a lot of different things. It’s funny…so many people shy away from green but it’s a great neutral, especially for the summer. The grass is green, leaves are green, and flowers are every color. See? It goes with everything! Here’s a pic of the hat. It’s fun, fresh feel makes me smile.

Green Straw Cloche

Kentucky Derby Hat for a Non-Hat Wearer

A customer recently came to me for a Kentucky Derby hat. But she not all that comfortable wearing hats. And she almost never wears a dress but she loves great style. So we put our heads together and came up with this fun little number. It’s vibrant – just like her. And it’s girly without being overly feminine. She’s gonna rock Churchill Downs!

Yellow and Black Tilt Hat

Custom Made Kentucky Derby Hats

A group of women recently came to see me about making custom hats for their trip to the Kentucky Derby. It’s always fun to custom design a piece to go with a particular dress or outfit. And Derby time is the perfect opportunity to use over-the-top profiles and embellishments. Here’s a peek at one of the hats I designed to coordinate with a beautiful coral dress.

Pink and Orange Kentucky Derby Hat

Kentucky Derby Hat Contest 2011


For the past two years I’ve entered the Kentucky Derby Hat Contest sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Museum. The hat pictured is currently in the museum and will be on display through the 2012 Derby. It’s a bright orange straw hat hand blocked and embellished with hand-dyed and hand sewn silk roses and vintage fuchsia satin ribbon. I’m working on designs for this year’s entry – stay tuned!

Kentucky Derby Contest

For the past two years I have entered the Kentucky Derby hat contest sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Museum. When I received a large manilla envelope from the museum in 2010 it seemed as if it had to be good news…and it was! I was hoping that the hat I entered was one of 20 selected to be on display in the museum for a year. Not only was that the case, but I had also won the Judges Choice Award for the hat most indicative of Derby style. I couldn’t help myself…I did a happy dance. Here’s a photo of the winning hat.

Welcome to My Blog!

I had always admired hats on others but didn’t give much thought to wearing them myself until I purchased my first handmade hat at the 2004 Ann Arbor Art Fair. Wearing it that day convinced me that I’d stumbled upon something special when at least 30 complete strangers said they loved the hat. How can you possibly have a bad day with that many compliments?

Six years and numerous millinery courses later, I’m loving every minute of producing mostly one-of-a-kind hats out of straw, sinamay, wool felt, handmade felt, fabric and all sorts of fun vintage and handmade trimmings.

Most of my hats are designed to be worn any time – a special occasion is not the only time to wear them. A great hat elevates a dress, outfit or coat from something perfectly nice to something really sensational.

And I never tire of hearing, “What a great hat!”