Expert tips on finding the perfect Kentucky Derby hat

Pink is always a favorite, said Britni Knable of Headcandi. This is one of her fascinators.
Pink is always a favorite, said Britni Knable of Headcandi. This is one of her fascinators.

Anyone who knows anything about dressing for the Kentucky Derby will tell you that the hat is the star of the day. With so much riding on this one accessory, we asked a hat expert for tips on choosing the right one.

Britni Knable is owner of Headcandi, a Louisville-based hat company that is knee-deep in hats, crinoline netting and feathers this time of year. On Monday, she and her staff were stationed in the basement of Bella Rose boutique in Lexington, adding custom accents to shoppers’ hats.

“I tend not to go with face shape all the time. I tend to go with each individual person, what looks good on them and they feel good in,” Knable said.

One of the biggest fashion trends this year is off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, or shoulder cutouts. With exposed shoulders, you might want to try a larger brim. “A larger hat looks better a lot of the time, because people want to feel a little more covered up than a fascinator,” she said.

With the traditional Derby hat with the sweeping brim, Knable says, “You just want to make sure you’re comfortable in them. You always want to adjust it to be just a little asymetrical. You want it to be just two fingers width above your eyebrow where the brim and the crown meet so you can see out it. Seeing out of it is key also.”

For convenience, the fascinator is a handy option.

“A lot of people love the fascinators right now because if they’re going to a party afterward or they’re going to a dinner afterward, they can just pop the fascinator off after that, and their hair isn’t so flat or messed up,” she said.

For those who simply can’t decide, Knable suggests the hybrid hatinator. “It’s kind of a mix between a hat and a fascinator,” she said. “The base size is just a little bit larger. That way you can still feel a little covered up.”

More than anything, Knable says, you want to be comfortable in your hat. So try on a few before you make a decision. “It’s kind of like wedding dress shopping, you can tell when it’s the right one,” she said.

More shopping news

Black Market at 516 East High Street will host its 15th annual tent sale Thursday through Sunday. The store features women’s apparel, accessories, shoes and jewelry. For more info, go to

Jerome Beauty Boutique at 153 Patchen Drive will host its annual wig sale the entire month of May. Save 20 percent to 50 percent off discontinued styles, closeout brands, display models, extensions, clip-on ponytails and hairpieces, costume wigs and select hand-tied and lace-front wigs. All human hair wigs in stock are 20 percent off. Go to

Lucille Jackson at Hunter’s Hatters, 140 DeWeese Street, will host a pre-Derby and Mother’s Day celebration 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with refreshments and drawings. Next week, the store will be open Monday through Friday. Call 859-252-6360.

L.V. Harkness at 531 West Short Street will offer engraving Monday through Wednesday. Call 859-225-7474 or go to for more information.