By Keri Foy

When your job takes you to Churchill Downs, your style choices have to pull double duty.

The red carpet. The Barnstable Brown party. Celebrities. Does this sound like your Derby? Mine, either. But for Stacey Robinson, vice president and chief of staff for the Kentucky Derby Festival, they are all in a day’s — or night’s — work.

You’ll find her in the standard-issue, khaki Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) jacket during most of Derby season. But, come Derby Eve and Derby Day — this woman is dressed to impress without the stress.

On Derby Eve, Stacey shuttles celebrities to and from the red carpet at the Barnstable Brown party, and she’s learned a couple of lessons over the last 10 years. Long gowns are pretty, but they aren’t a good investment for her, and they’re hard to move in. Cocktail dresses are a go-to for this event.

When selecting work attire for Derby events, Stacey searches for stylish, colorful dresses that are comfortable.
Photo by Sunni Wigginton 

For Derby, Stacey packs an extra pair of flats for the journey between the Sky Deck and the Paddock. “Celebrities have friends in other areas that I need to get from Point A to Point B,” Stacey says. “I come out of my high heels and put on flats as I’m traveling through the Paddock. I try to come prepared.” Comfort has to play into her outfit choices.

Three favorites and what they have in common
Stacey easily picks her top three Derby looks.

  1. A red and black dress with red roses that she originally wore to a Go Red ball. She wore a black hat with red roses to complement the dress.
  2. White pants and a printed, off-the-shoulder blouse. She wore a pink hat with an orange flower to pull in the color with orange heels and a matching clutch.
  3. A blue dress. As an avid University of Louisville fan, Stacey shies away from cobalt blue, but this dress may have changed her mind about her casual ban on blue. She borrowed the dress for a pre-Derby photo shoot, and after she returned the dress to the store, she decided she liked it enough to purchase it for Derby.

The one thing that binds together these three very different looks is the play on color. Stacey describes herself as having a bold personality with an attraction to primary colors. She favors purples, fuchsias, and her all-time favorite hue — red.

When it comes to Derby shopping, Stacey’s advice is to find what speaks to you, have patience while shopping, and don’t buy the first thing you see. “You might find something else you like better,” Stacey says.