The Best Bow Ties In Kentucky Derby History

The most important question of the week is not "Which horse are you rooting for in the Kentucky Derby?" but rather "What are you wearing to the Kentucky Derby?" While the huge, outlandish hats that women wear tend to get all love, isn't it high time we paid a bit of attention to what the dudes are wearing? While it's true there's a large contingent of men who majorly bring down the overall style factor of the Derby — picture cut-offs, beer hats, and piles of Mardi Gras style beads — there's a fair percentage of southern gents who try to honor the race's heritage and tradition by wearing, what else, bow ties!

In fact, the neckwear is so popular at this particular leg of the Triple Crown that there's even an entire post on the Kentucky Derby website dedicated to the age-old regular tie vs. bow tie debate. The number one reason to go for the quirkier option? Well, aside from looking just like James Bond, obviously. Believe it or not, while the Kentucky Derby seems like it's strictly about the equestrian component, it's really all about fun! Besides, nothing reads "true southern style" quite like a man in a suit and bow tie.

If you need some inspiration, I've gathered together some exemplary ensembles below from Kentucky Derbys of the past to get you started in the right direction.

1. The Dramatic Hat and Tie Combo:

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Because nothing makes your red bow tie pop quite like an ornate wide-brimmed hat laden with glossy peacock feathers.

2. Steal A Mad Men Style Cue:

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The gentleman of Mad Men have some pretty enviable personal style both on and off screen, so why not borrow a piece of fashionable advice from Michael Gladis and strap one on?

3. The Award-Winning Bow Tie:


This sporty appliqué uniform bow tie is the best way to easily transition from the track to the winner's circle and look dapper doing it.

4. A KFC Tie-Up:

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How is anyone supposed to know they're in Kentucky without a bona fide Colonel Sanders sighting?

5. A Master Class in Pattern Mixing:

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This is not for the fashion novices out there. Pattern clashing this advanced is serious next level stuff. Plus, bonus points for matching the bow tie to the headphones and the box.

6. Go Matchy-Matchy:

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How do you make your bow tie and shirt combo look hella trendy? Match them perfectly. Still not enough for you? Color-coordinate your beau too!

7. Purple Haze:

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Nothing says deep south in the summer time quite like fifty shades of lavender.

8. It's All About the Accessories:

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While his subtly swirled bow tie is pretty flawless, I have to admit I'm more obsessed with the idea of a giant bottle of champagne as your go-to accessory. This could bring a whole new meaning to the term "boozy brunch."

9. Black Tie Only:

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Black tie is by no means a requirement at the Kentucky Derby (the hundreds of drunken shirtless dudes are solid proof of that), but taking things to the next level of spiffy has hurt no man ever.

10. Extreme Print-Clashing Chaos:

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Now, if you thought that last print combo was wild, this is totally out of control (in a good way). This man has clearly demonstrated he has a phenomenal sense of style and I kind of want to find him and make him my personal pattern guru.

11. Johnny Weir Realness:

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Basically, no one except Johnny Weir can rock this look to the utmost. While the feathery chapeau with a pegasus exploding out the center gets all the attention, Weir deserves props for his delicate, modern take on the bow tie, choosing to opt for a crystalized piece of statement jewelry instead.

Images: Getty Images(11)