Church Hats & Derby Hats: There is a Crossover

Posted by asad1775 on April 25, 2019 at 12:35 AM

Church hats and derby hats: do you know the difference? Horse racing and church-going aren't typically two things that go together. But one thing they do have in common is the extravagant headgear you'll see at both. Whether you're sitting down for a Sunday sermon or a view of the starting gate, you're bound to see a few incredibly beautiful hats.

Church Hats & Derby Hats: There is a Crossover

In both cases, the southern aesthetic prevails: fanciful style, elegance, and the bold use of colors. Oh, and it's common to find hats decked out in flowers (both fake and real). Traditionally, both tend to have wide brims but, as the times change, that's no longer the rule. These days, people are wearing fascinators to church and pillbox hats to the derby, complete with face-covering, sun-blocking veils.

But the best way to understand the similarities is to look at photos taken last year during the 144th running of the annual Kentucky Derby in Louisville, KY. Skipping the fantasy hats that are really just artist showpieces, you can see a trend among the more toned-down styles:

Extra wide brims - to block the wearer's face from the sun

Extra large flowers - a nod to tradition and to the season

Mostly pastel colors - ditto

Whimsical flourishes

On the other side of the aisle, you have church hats. They're basically very similar to the traditional, iconic derby hat but one main difference: they're more toned down. In fact, you could take the list of derby hat attributes above, remove the first word in each line, and you'd have a pretty good description of a typical southern church hat. Take a look:

Wide brims

Flowers - flowers, but not over-the-top flowers

Pastel colors but also other colors, to match whatever color a lady's dress happens to be

Flourishes - there will be flourishes like netting or bows but they typically won't dominate the hat as they sometimes do in Derby hats

It's All Size and About Color - and Proper Fit

One final word. In addition to their smaller size and scale, church hats are more likely to be one solid color. And as you know, Derby hats will run the gamut of color creativity. The introduction of a second color to the church hat is most likely to be on the trimming: the bow, the flower, or the hat band.

Church hats are bought with the idea that they will be worn more than once, hence the relative conservatism with color choices. That's also why fit is so important. Derby hats often see just one wearing and it's for fun, rather like a costume, so fit isn't as crucial. You could even buy them online. But with a church hat, you need to know the distinction so you don't end up wearing a costume piece to church. It's always best to have a knowledgeable hat fitter help you out with fitting - one who clearly understands the difference between the two types of hats!

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