Remember a couple of weeks ago, I shared with you a bit about TJ Grier, the hero in my new book, KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY? Readers first met TJ in UNTAMED COWBOY, when he was a young and lanky wrangler. Readers also met ten-year-old Callie Mae Lockett, the heroine’s daughter. And now, TJ and Callie Mae are all grown up and have their own story.
If you read UNTAMED COWBOY, you’ll know that even at such a young age, Callie Mae had a real love for fashion. That love carries over into KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY. And as TJ follows his dream of racing his prized thoroughbred horse, it was easy to envision just how Callie Mae would’ve dressed at the track.
Including her hat.
In the nineteenth century, women wore hats as a matter of routine, but a day at the race track meant something special. Men and women wore their finest. In fact, at the very first Kentucky Derby in 1875, promoters visited all the women’s clubs and invited them to dress to the nines. They weren’t disappointed.
The event was held on a hot and windy day, and newspaper accounts describe how “clouds of suffocating heat” damaged “hats, ribbons, flowers, laces, silks, dainty fans and parasols.”
Mention the Kentucky Derby, and most women will think of the hats before the horses. Big, broad-brimmed hats. Hats with flowers, feathers, ribbons. Elegant and frothy hats. Or simply outrageous ones.
Along with mint juleps, they’re a tradition at the big races, but no one knows just how or why that hat tradition took root. When hats began to lag in popularity in the 1960’s, wearing them at the Derby flourished–but only by way of some friendly female competition.
Socialites spare no cost in dressing themselves up, some spending up to $1,000 or more for a custom-made hat. They want to be noticed and talked about. They want to have their picture taken.
Most of all, they want to have fun.
Designers begin with light-weight straw weave hats in all colors, soft and bold, and after that dip into their stockpile of rooster feathers (or quail, peacock or pheasant), sequins, silk flowers and puffy plumes. After that, well, the possibilities are endless.
But for those who can’t afford hundreds of dollars for a hat, a trip to the craft store and firing up their glue gun will do the trick–for a fraction of the cost.
Ever had a Mint Julep? Here’s a recipe:
1 3/4 oz. Kentucky bourbon
Fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. superfine sugar
1 Tb. cold water
Place the mint in a glass. Add sugar and water. Crush with the back of a bar spoon until the sugar dissolves and the fragrance of the mint is released.
Add the bourbon. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
So, do tell. Do you wear hats? Or do you feel silly in one? Too flamboyant? Or incredibly fashionable. Would you like to see them come back? Ever had a Mint Julep?
Share your stories, and I’ll draw a winner for a copy of KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY!