By Keri Foy

Dress available at Monkee’s of Louisville, $290; Necklace available at Merci, $130;
Shoes available at Modern Elegance, $110.
Photos by Melissa Donald

Here’s how and why to go rosy for the Oaks.

My closet doesn’t hold many clothes in shades of pink. I shrink away from blush and bashful in favor of black and navy. The one pink shirt I own requires a slather of sunless tanner to prevent the blouse and my face from matching hues. I’m guessing I’m not the only pasty Louisvillian who thinks pink is best left to little girls and grannies.

But, here’s why pink is the color of the day on Louisville’s day at the track and the second-most attended horse race in the U.S. — the Kentucky Oaks, the race for 3-year-old fillies held each year the Friday before Derby

Why you should wear pink: solidarity
Until I talked with Sara Brown Meehan, director of lifestyle communications at Churchill Downs and The Kentucky Derby, I would have never spent one shopping moment hunting down anything pink for the Oaks. Now, I’d be prepared to invest hours.

“Kentucky Oaks Day has always celebrated the top female equine athletes in our sport, so Oaks Day is a natural opportunity to reach out to women,” Sara says.

During the Pink Out celebration at Oaks, pink bunting decorates the track, and fans like you and me are encouraged to incorporate the color into our outfits. During the annual Survivors Parade, the centerpiece of the Pink Out, 142 breast and ovarian cancer survivors will walk along the racetrack before the running of the 142nd Kentucky Oaks.

This year, Churchill Downs will donate to two charitable partners:

  • $1 from each Grey Goose Oaks Lily cocktail sold on Oaks Day will go to Horses and Hope, a breast cancer outreach initiative for members of Kentucky’s horse industry.
  • $50,000 will go to Bright Pink, a national nonprofit focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer.

“Our partnerships with Bright Pink and Horses and Hope make it possible for Churchill Downs, our business partners, and our guests to make a difference in the ongoing fight against breast and ovarian cancer,” Sara says.

Churchill Downs says Pink Out has raised more than $740,000 in the past seven years. You can donate online now through May 8 to Bright Pink at

“The sea of pink at the Oaks is an emotional and uplifting experience for everyone at the track,” Sara says. “Breast and ovarian cancer are critical health issues that have impacted many of us at Churchill Downs, and we are proud to support breast and ovarian health on Oaks Day.”

Angela Horn is wearing: Dress available at Colonial Designs, $47; Shoes, available at DSW,  $30; Earrings available at Liv Boutique, $22; Ring available at Liv Boutique, $86; Hat by The MacHatter, $149
Bracelet available at Boutique Serendipity,  $138

How to wear pink: opposites attract
Now that you’re convinced wearing pink is the right thing to do, how do you pull it off? Style U stylist Juli Larson shares her advice on how to wear pink with confidence.

  • Steer clear of your skin tone. If you’re fair, opt for a brighter pink. “You don’t want to look nude,” Juli says.
  • Be creative. You don’t have to wear head-to-toe pink to join the Pink Out. Wear pink nail polish, jewelry, and shoes. “A hot pink clutch, dangly earrings, or shoes will make your outfit stand out,” Juli says.
  • Start shopping. Pink is doable, but it may take some time to find your perfect shade. Juli says Nordstrom, Shopbop, Clodhoppers, Anthropologie, Target, Blush, and J.Crew Factory are good places to begin your journey.
  • Match your makeup. If you’re wearing bright pink, opt for bright pink lipstick.
  • Find flattering color combinations. “I love a monochromatic look, so don’t be afraid of wearing various shades,” Juli says. If you’re wearing a pastel pink, pair it other pastels such as powder blue. If you’re going with bright pink, accent it with royal blue or other jewel tones. “If that’s too outside your box, try mixing pink with cream, black, and white,” Juli says.

Use these guidelines to draw inspiration — and build your outfit around that. You can pull off pink and know you’re helping to support women’s health.

Will you be participating in the Pink Out celebration? Do you know a breast cancer survivor?