Going to their heads

The Preakness gives the fashion-forward a reason to sport a hat

May 15, 2010|By Sloane Brown | Special to The Baltimore Sun

Although hats are typically more popular at the Kentucky Derby, they made a major comeback at the Preakness this year. Large, extravagant bonnets with feathers, flowers and fanciful embellishments were everywhere. If you didn't arrive with one this year, you had the option of leaving with one — thanks to a first-time-ever Hats In the Belfry booth in the center of the Corporate Village.

"The week before Preakness is bigger than Christmas for us," said Ryan Seth, 37, co-owner of Hats In the Belfry. He and his wife, Jenny Seth, jumped at the chance to have a booth at the event. They offered a selection of several styles of straw hats — for men as well as women — and silk flowers that customers could use to add a little pizazz. For those with more extravagant tastes, Derby milliner Christine Moore offered one-of-a-kind couture chapeaus.

"$1,800 for a hat?" asked stay-at-home mom Kathleen Buren, 39, of Lutherville as she quickly removed a Moore peacock feather and turquoise satin-trimmed hat, and set her own black straw hat back on her head.

The most popular colors also followed tradition. Many women dressed in Preakness black, white and yellow, although there were some pops of bright turquoise, purples and pinks.

For many men, this was a rare opportunity to don seersucker with pride.

"I pull this out every year," said Alan Rifkin, 53, managing partner at Rifkin Livingston, referring to the blue seersucker blazer he wore over a baby-blue button shirt and navy slacks. Rifkin said he bought the jacket just for Preakness about a decade ago, and it's the only time he wears it.

One of this summer's hot trends made an early appearance at the party. There was a smattering of maxi sundresses, which worked well for their wearers in dealing with the day's breezes.

Sloane Brown can be contacted at sloane@sloanebrown.com.

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