Since 1875, sophisticates have attended the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, to sip mint juleps, cheer on their favorite racehorses and ... oh, who we are kidding? The Kentucky Derby is all about the hats.
The Derby hats tradition dates back to the beginning of the horse race, when founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. recruited high-society women to wear their finest headpieces to the event. It was an effort to restyle the racetrack into a place of class instead of boozy illegality. Over the years, more people — both women and men— began going bigger and, well, weirder with their horse-race hat choices, leading to some truly imaginative creations. From a crown of straws to a stuffed-animal tableau to a bird-adorned pinwheel, these 20 hats are next-level wacky. And next-level fabulous.