How to Have a Winning Kentucky Derby Party
J.McLaughlin x Ashley Brooke

We’re off to the races again! Here at J.McL, we love Equestrian sports and style, so it’s no surprise that the Kentucky Derby is one of our favorite annual events. This year, we asked our friend Ashley Brooke help us to create a guide to throwing a winning Derby Party and share her favorite J.McL styles for the occasion. If you’re anything like us, Derby Day isn’t just about the horses. The stands are a spectacle of style, from the necessary statement hats to sundresses of every shade of the rainbow. It has become a place to see and be seen, and the standards for your Kentucky Derby party shouldn’t be any different.

When deciding what to wear, whether you’re hosting or attending a Kentucky Derby-themed soiree, treat it as though you’re dressing for Churchill Downs itself. There is an unspoken uniform for the occasion, and our Equestrian Collection includes the perfect pieces for any party you host or attend.

pink kentucky derby dress


Ashley chose a couple of Equestrian Collection pieces to make a statement and take the Derby theme in stride. Most race-goers wear dresses, and the Cap Sleeve Swing Dress is a lightweight, and perfectly Instagrammable, silk piece.

If you want to add a new twist to the traditional Derby attire while still looking classy and chic, the Lois Shirt in our Race Day print and our Charter Wide Leg jeans are a match made in heaven. Plus, what better piece to wear on race day than one named Race Day? That’s what we call dressing to the theme!

No statement look is complete without a wicker bag and comfy, yet chic, shoes that’ll make moving and mingling around the room a breeze. And they are great for walking across grass if you will be celebrating outdoors! Like Ashley, we’re reaching for the Aria Wicker Bag and the Middleton Ankle Strap Wedges or Willa Cork Sandals to complete our party look.

Our spring collection isn’t lacking in other party pieces. For a more subtle look that still nods to the Derby, the Sophia Dress in a statement spring color and lovely heraldic loop print is a style that’s sure to stand out. Check out our other spring dresses for more party looks.

Let’s not forget your Derby date’s dress code. Our men’s collection features stylish blazers in prints that pop, statement party pants, and classic button-downs in solids and prints that’ll keep him looking and feeling like a winner.


And what is a Kentucky Derby party without themed food and drink to match? The mint julep is the iconic drink of the Derby, but this year Ashley is putting her twist on the classic cocktail, serving her guests a refreshing Peach Julep instead. We’ll cheers to that!

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your entertaining tips and what you’ll be wearing on #DerbyDay.
Now you’re ready to host a winning Derby party of your own!