talk derby to me - paperclips & peonies kentucky derby
Hosting, Toasting

Talk Derby To Me

A few weeks ago, I attended a party with the costume memo “dress like a sport.” Though most took a traditionally athletic route, Cameron and I went for a very authentically us approach instead and dressed up as Kentucky Derby attendees. Mint juleps were drunk and floppy hats were worn. Southern style and society is something we both love, making this a really memorable event. Even if you’re a home grown Canadian like me, if you have a little Southern Belle in your blood, host a Kentucky Derby styled event yourself! Read through for more inspiration.


paperclips & peonies dresses for the kentucky derby

  • Ladies: pastels & prints; sundresses & sandals; florals & floppy hats. Let your hat be the focal point – keep your nails & makeup neat and minimal.
  • Gentlemen: If you own any seersucker, this is the time to let it free from your wardrobe. Pair a seersucker blazer with navy slacks, and finish off with a printed bow tie & pocket square. Hats also encouraged.


mason jar mint juleps {paperclips & peonies}

If I were to play a game of free association, Bourbon would be my immediate response to Kentucky. In a world where its acceptable to drink before noon, Mint Juleps are a derby day essential. Traditionally served in metallic glassware with a dollop of mint for garnish, this cocktail is quintessentially Southern. It’s pretty impossible to find mint julep cups in Toronto, so mason jars were our substitute. If serving mint juleps in improper glassware is sacrilegious to you, Long Island Iced Teas & Whiskey Sours will do. Throw in a striped straw for a finishing touch on your perfectly preppy beverage.

how to make: boil 2 cups of sugar & 2 cups of water to make simple syrup – add 6 sprigs of fresh mint, cover & chill overnight. Add crushed ice & 1 tablespoon of simple syrup to a silver cup. Pour in two ounces of bourbon.

for the health conscious: use a half tablespoon of agave nectar instead of simple syrup.


talk derby to me - kentucky derby party inspiration

Image sources: Mint Julep // Centrepieces // Derby Pies //  Place Setting // Preppy Props // Bow Tie // Derby Hats  

  • Colours: Leave the horsing around to the races, and let the lady shine instead. Stick to a preppy pastel colour scheme, or derive colour inspiration from your fine china.
  • Centrepieces: Use extra mint julep cups as flower vessels. White or blush roses in mint julep cups make for darling thematic decor, considering that roses are given to winning horses at the Derby.
  • Food: Serve Bourbon inspired dishes, like biscuits & bourbon gravy or bourbon smoked ham. Sweeten things up Derby Pies for dessert, or colour scheme iced cupcakes with equestrian toppers.
  • Entertainment: To keep your guests entertained, air the races on the flatscreen, or make it a garden party and set up a horse shoe toss on the lawn.
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