By Keri Foy

Kristin found the solution to her fashion conundrum when she met stylist Andre Wilson. Photos by Sunni Wigginton

Hint: They involve a man and a poisonous flower. Plus one Derby mistake you can avoid.

Selecting a Derby outfit is a meticulous, time-consuming adventure. But what if you work at Churchill Downs year round? Turns out the dress code does vary, but during racing season, employees are expected to dress up.

Finding clothes that are flattering to Kristin’s body shape is her main objective when shopping. 

How one woman tackles fashion — Derby and beyond
About three years ago, Kristin Warfield, a vice president at Churchill Downs, had two dresses lined up for Oaks and Derby, but she made a rookie blunder. They hung untouched until two days before the big race. As luck would have it, the garments didn’t fit well, weren’t flattering and revealed a little too much. “I would have been talking to COOs and CEOs with my boobs hanging out,” Kristin says.

It was too late. At this point in Derby season, Kristin was working 18-hour days, so a last-minute shopping spree was impossible. “I ended up adding a bolero jacket both days,” Kristin says. “I felt very awkward, and the jackets didn’t really fit the weather.”

Perhaps Kristin’s procrastination in doing a pre-Derby dress rehearsal can be chalked up to her shopping habits. “I hit a point where I absolutely just cannot try anything else on,” says Kristin, who admits she doesn’t really like shopping. In the past, she shopped online and in stores sporadically.

With no real game plan to cultivate a wardrobe of professional wear and business casual that can be mixed and matched, most of Kristin’s new finds didn’t work well with the contents of her closet. “I really didn’t feel comfortable in most of the things I owned, and my options were too limited because much of what I had bought didn’t work well together,” she says. “I used to try on several different outfits before I found one that stuck.”

Learning a few tips on how to rework her wardrobe has made shopping for clothing much easier. 

Cue the Stylist
Kristin, also a board chair for the Center for Women and Families, bid on a styling session last year at the charity’s largest fundraising event, Celebration of Service and Survival. “I wanted to look more put-together,” she says. She ended up winning the session with Andre Wilson at Style Icon.

Kristin and Andre spent an afternoon together shopping, and he showed her how to buy core pieces that work well together and how to mix and match to make multiple outfits. During the outing at Oxmoor Center and Mall St. Matthews, he also helped Kristin, mom of four, find clothes suited to her body type. “I was born into a family of pear-shaped women, so there are several areas I need to hide!” Kristin says. “Now I know what to look for in pants and tops to make me feel comfortable with my hips, thighs, and rear.”

Kristin is planning to ask Andre to help her create her Derby look this year.

Kristin always has the right outfit to match the varying tones of her work environment. She paired her Cremiux blouse from Dillard’s, with a Calvin Klein jacket, jeans and these great pair of boots she bought from the Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.  

Beauty and Makeup
Kristin uses a simple skincare system based around a moisturizer called Nerium, which uses an extract from the Nerium oleander plant. “It’s one step in the morning and at night,” she says. “I fell in love with it so much I actually sell it now. The stuff is incredible, and I haven’t had to buy concealer in a year and a half because my skin just glows!”

Kristin coordinates her makeup to complement her outfit: simple for business casual and more makeup for professional suit days. On the less-is-more days, she sticks to Clinique pressed powder, blush, light eye makeup and lip color. Her hair routine is basic as well: Nioxin shampoo and conditioner followed by Moroccanoil leave-in treatment, then she smooths her short hairstyle with a flat iron to finish her look. “I got it cut about six months ago, and I really like it,” she says.

Work environment: Take your pick
Churchill Downs welcomes several forms of workplace attire, but most employees stay in the land of business casual, except when racing is in session. “When we have live racing at the track, there’s a dress code in certain parts of the facility that we need to adhere to if we plan to enter those areas,” says Kristin – meaning “dressier when racing is in session than when it’s not.”

Kristin builds her outfit daily based on her meeting and phone call schedule. She usually starts with a top or blouse, works her way down, and finishes her look with shoes (she loves boots) and accessories. “[Choosing an outfit] is easier now that my closet is full of good combinations,” she says.

Stylist Andre Wilson found this dynamic necklace.