This is how you dress for a ‘Kentucky Derby’ theme

This is how you dress for a ‘Kentucky Derby’ theme

Q. Our club is having a dinner dance with the theme of Kentucky Derby. What options can you suggest for my husband to wear?

A. Well, let’s start out with what NOT to wear to a Kentucky Derby themed dinner dance. He should not wear any of the gimmicky clothing items with messages that relate to the Derby. That is a teenage way to go, and not one I would advise for a smart-dressing adult. Also, definitely do not wear any form of a man’s derby-style hat. Too cute and, again, not appropriate for a grown-up who is dressing for a social evening. 

Themed parties can be fun, both for the guests and for those who are hosting them. Any evening that is termed “a dinner dance” automatically says to the participants, “dressy.”  A themed event gives you extra permission to go an extra step or two without appearing to go overboard. The many approaches to what to wear for such an occasion include a wide array of possibilities.

SUITS: The full range will work, from a rather dramatic Tom Wolfe-type all white suit through a traditional solid navy suit, to a more casual summer striped seersucker in blue, gray, or pink. In fact, men in Kentucky often wear pastels or other light color suits such as light blue or pale gray. If he has/wants/ or can find such a suit (perhaps at a thrift store) it would be appropriate and a fun acquisition. The mere fact that these are all matched suits makes them qualify for a dinner dance.  

UNMATCHED JACKET AND  TROUSERS: These can be a conventional navy blazer or a more offbeat lightweight blazer in ivory silk or in pastel-colored wool. This category also includes good-looking subtle tweed sports jackets. They all pair up nicely with well-cut dress trousers in the full range of colors from black through most colors and ending in white. White trousers could be wool, linen, or perhaps even a pristine pair of white jeans. But keep in mind that most cotton trousers – even well-cut khakis – are probably too casual.      

TIES AND JACKET ACCESSORIES: Everything from a beautiful four-in-hand necktie or bowtie can become the accessory that lifts your combination to the “party level.” These certainly can be more floral patterned (it is the “Run for the Roses,” after all). A well-coordinated silk or cotton pocket square is a nice touch, as is a fresh flower boutonniere. 

VESTS: It’s hard to think of an occasion that would more call for breaking out a vest if there is one in the closet. Dapper dressers might add a distinctive vest to the mix. Vests can be matching or contrasting; they can be single-breasted or double-breasted; they can be eye-catching or subtle. (Incidentally, they should always be worn with the bottom button left unbuttoned. Don’t ask me why, but it is the rule.) 

FOOTWEAR: Men who are fond of interesting shoes like to choose something unexpected when dressing for a party. Perhaps two-toned spectators, or saddle shoes, or a pair of Western boots.  

The easiest way to be different with accessories is to wear some colorful (but not too crazy) socks.  

OTHER ACCESSORIES: If a man has seen an accessory (on a friend, in an ad, or online) that is offbeat, dressy, or in some way noticeable or memorable and that he liked, this could be his moment to try it. Possibilities might be a vintage pocket watch and chain or an interesting pair of cuff links.

LESS DRESSY: On the other hand, if your husband is not the type who enjoys dressing with enough flair to be noticed, there are options. He can just fall back on whatever is his spring or summer go-to “dress-up look,” something that is attractive and dressy, but short of “black-tie attire.” He won’t win any contests, but, as long as it is not overly casual or too ordinary, he will certainly fit in. 

Most of all, have fun (it sounds like you already know what you’re going to wear)!

Categories: Male Call