Style blogger Gerry Mattingly: ‘Derby is the one event when men can pull off almost anything … with a little help’

By Gerry Mattingly, Evolve

And down the stretch they come …

We’re just over a week out now to Kentucky Derby 138 and a lot of guys haven’t even broken a sweat when it comes to thinking about what to wear.

Heck, Extreme Makeover could build two houses in that time, so you’re thinking “I’m good,” right?

But with an early spring, it’s looking like it’s about choices – not time – this year, with the coolest threads flying off the shelves now.

You don’t want to settle for what’s left versus what you wanted.

Derby is the one time a year event where men can pull off almost anything. Still, whether you’ll be waving down from Millionaires Row or lying face down in an infield beer puddle, you have to look damn good doing it.

As Sports Illustrated once noted, “Where else but Kentucky could you turn a two minute horse race into a two week extravaganza?”

Whether your plans include Oaks, Derby, the parties or all of the above, the time has come.

Sooooo … let’s go shopping!

Seersucker is the unofficial uniform for Oaks and Derby. With a few creative accessory tweaks, you can create a look that will set you apart from the masses.

If seersucker is the unofficial uniform, Pink is the official color of the Kentucky Oaks. Even after the recent Komen gaff, Friday is still a Pink Out styled event … and a great choice paired with seersucker.

In my opinion, a little pink can go long way.

So keep the words “subtle elegance” in mind while you make your selections. (Lest you wind up on somebody’s Facebook page tagged as, “That cotton candy hazmat situation dude I saw at the track.”)

Other pastel colors such as blues, yellows and greens look great as well.

How do you make it your own?

Buy two identical ties, then use the extra one to create a pocket square and/or a hat band. Local craft shops like Dee’s are always happy to help you with these DIY type projects.

If your choice is a suit, the beiges and lighter grays are the winners in this category but a dark suit in light weight summer wool can be a great choice as well. Brighten it up with pastel patterned shirt and matching tie so people will know you’re there for the party and not the audit.

You heard it here first … real men wear separates.

I’m all about making clothing work for you more than once, and separates can be mixed, matched, popped, toned down and tweaked over and over, giving you a new look every time.

Even at its simplest, nothing is classier than a navy blue silk or wool sport coat and white linen pants. You can also turn that look upside down with a white linen sport coat and darker pants. Think plaids, blues and greens.

Keep away from the structured blacks and grays here or someone might stop you and order a mint julep.

Whether you go seersucker, suit, separate and all the colors that compliment, try to individualize your look with accessories because as they say, “Our ability to accessorize is what separates us from the infield.”

I mean, “The animals.”

As you party your way through the After Five events surrounding the Kentucky Derby, you’ll find the dress codes are usually kicked up a notch and call for more formal style clothing.

Even a tuxedo can be made yours by adding the right accessories, like vests, shirts, ties and pocket squares.

No matter what you decide to wear or where you decide go, I have one last post Derby recommendation for the residents of Louisville and our guests from all over the world: Make it a Zing Zang Sunday!

Happy Derby!

About Gerry Mattingly: Gerry Mattingly is a former certified public accountant who left the profession two years ago to open Evolve, a high-end menswear consignment store in the Crescent Hill neighborhood.