Author: Michael Strong

How to Make the Perfect Tailgate Spread

Steeplechase of Charleston is just days away and it’s tailgate time! We’ve assembled a list of THE best tailgate ideas to bring the class of a VIP ticket and the intimacy of a rail-side experience all into one. Relinquish the painstaking Pinterest scrolls and aimless Google searches, and look no further– we’ve got you covered.

Set Up

It’s all about the table set up. Get in touch with the artisans of our Vendor Village and get your setup on display with a cute tablecloth and platters of your best dishes. Keep in touch with Derby fashion and go bold! Think bright, pastel colors and intricate patterns. Adorn the table with flower arrangements and decorative horse ribbons.

Try your hand at coordinating a theme! Rep your university, deck out with preppy patterns or create a Steeplechase-esque theme with small horse statues and bouquets. Pull at classic fall elements with pumpkins for decoration or a warmer color scheme.


You’ve got a full day at Steeplechase of Charleston, so make sure to cover all of your cravings. Get in touch with Charleston cuisine by making BBQ sliders, pimento cheese deviled eggs or chicken and waffle skewers. Top it all off with one of this year’s signature cocktails, a Lexus Cup Whiskey Mash or an Ice Pick, to elevate your tailgate to classy cuisine.

Pack your Yetis and bundle up your bottles– fashion a wine cooler amongst your spread and keep all your tailgaters happy. Finish the day with some sweet lemon bars or cream cheese brownies for chocolate lovers.


Bringing the whole family to Steeplechase of Charleston? Get ready for a full day of eager munchers with these kid-friendly recipes. Keep the kids happy with these mini corn dogs and reward your efforts with a mint julep. Stock up on extra napkins for sticky fingers and switch out the juleps for some homemade lemonade

Don’t forget dessert! Bring out the crowd-pleasers with simple, bite-sized treats like these mini whoopie pies or these beautiful sugar cookies.

Things to Note

Don’t forget the essentials– patterned napkins and cutlery will be essential for staying tidy on race day. While we want your bellies to be satisfied and your platters to be full, we ask that attendees refrain from bringing grills with an open flame or propane. Prep those items beforehand, get creative in your menu, and leave it all on display! Inspire attendees with tailgate ideas for #SteepleCHS 2022.

Sharp as a Tack at the Track

Men’s Fashion Feature

Half of the fun on race day is seeking out the biggest and the boldest ladies’ hats across the racetracks. But a creative day of fashion isn’t reserved for just the women. In this blog, we’ve composed a men’s fashion feature: because masculinity and style meet at the tracks.

The Hats

Start with the essentials– you’re not you without a race day hat. The options are overwhelming, but this classic fedora hat goes with almost any color scheme. A herringbone flat cap or a Mannes hat perfectly complement darker colors; whatever you decide on, you’ll be tastefully representing Derby style.

The Jacket

You’re in luck– with the cooler climes of our November race day, a stylish jacket checks off the boxes of looks and practicality. Be as loud or as sleek as you like: the options are endless. Explore patterns of traditional race day themes: roses, horseshoes, and stripes are sure to catch attendees’ eyes. For a more toned-down look, experiment with solid pastel suits or a darker, autumn-y approach. Mix and match these tones, or stay consistent with a color scheme.

The Shoes

From head to toe, you have to look the part on race day. Slip on these comfortable loafers or whip out your boat shoes to finish off your preppy attire. Worried about the mud? Try a pair of boots and complete a more rugged race day look.

The Accessories

Little details matter. Spice up a pair of darker shoes with patterned socks, or break up a monotone jacket with a bold bowtie or a striking belt. Watches, pocket squares, and sleek sunglasses can elevate any outfit. If you’re keeping away from a louder jacket, these smaller accents offer the perfect hints of Derby fashion.

Whatever you decide to model, we can’t wait to see it! Stay tuned on social (@Steeplechaseofcharleston) to get exclusives on where to shop for your Steeplechase look. Go as bold or as simple as you like! You’ll look good either way– you’re at Steeplechase of Charleston. 

Race Day Hat Guide

Everyone knows that in order to look the part for race day, you’ve got to top it off with an extravagant hat. But if you’re not keen on a small masterpiece teetering on the top of your head, don’t worry– we’ve laid out the different types of race day hats for you to find the perfect one that works for you.


Church Hat

The church hat is the typical style of the elaborate race day hats we’ve come to know and love. You can take this extravagance to any degree with this design. Flat-topped church hats are oftentimes ornamented with ribbons and bows, and can be built up with increasing details and accessories. You don’t have to go over the top though; these stiff hats feature a wide brim and bright colors and feature just a simple ribbon.


Light, stylish, colorful– the fascinator is the perfect option for someone who doesn’t want to carry the heavy ordeal. Oftentimes supported by a mere headband, a fascinator is an intricate sinamay ornamentation made of a natural straw fabric that will give you an expressive pop for race day. Ribbons, feathers, and beads can all spice up your add-on. 

Lampshade Hat

Stylish and practical– the traditional lampshade hat will give you that Derby glow while simultaneously keeping you shielded from any stray rays. With a bold sash to top it all off, you’ll fit in perfectly for race day.

Rancher Hat

Got a little dirt on your boots? A rancher hat is the perfect way to get in touch with the race day style while still keeping your country roots close. Experiment with some neutral, warmer tones to complete the look.

Mirabel Hat

Similar to the lampshade hat, the mirabel is a perfect way to stay fashionable yet burn-free. Typically straw in nature, this hat stays both breezy and cute. Warm, cream colors and a decorative sash pulls the entire look together. The mirabel hat is perfect for someone seeking a feminine touch to a sleek dress.

Gambler Hat

You’ll be repping ALL of the vintage vibes with a classic gambler hat. With traces of the traditional English style, you can rock the races with a dark accent to stand apart from the crowd. A short brim and thin belt make for a simpler yet just as stylish race day option.




Herringbone Flat Cap

A classic but timeless look; for the gentlemen that want to participate in race day get-ups without going over the top, a simple herringbone cap is the perfect option. Stick to the classic gray-scale options or experiment with brown, burgundy, or houndstooth variations.

Classic Fedora Hat

A bit more statement in style, all the same class– the fedora hat is the perfect option for anyone who wants to stay simple yet stylish on race day. Take a classic style and experiment with new fabrics and colors– pastel blue, linen, or a statement sash can all elevate this traditional look and make for the perfect race day outfit.

Braid Boater Hat

You’ll look straight out of a barbershop quartet with a braid boater hat— the perfect way to stand out for race day! With an eye-catching red and navy sash, this hat will give you the preppy look you’ve been working for.

Straw Panama Hat

A little bit more country, the panama hat offers a traditional form of masculinity when approaching race day attire. Its light brown undertones complements a variety of color schemes. It can be pulled together with a coordinating belt and buttoned-down shirt.

Pork Pie Hat

Short in nature but expressive in style– but the potential for different patterns on the pork pie hats is endless. From “Jent” to “Doc Dyer” to Tokyo Braid, pork pie hats offer an opportunity for a gentleman to take on a bit more of a unique approach.

Bowler Hat

Nothing says classy like the bowler hat. The traditional round frame and curling lip at the bottom is a timeless look; usually black in color, a bowler hat can be the perfect accent with many color schemes.

Messer Straw Fedora

The Messer straw fedora hat goes acts as the bridge between the classic fedora and a little more country. Perfect for any color scheme, the leather “belt” and the shapely frame gives this hat a masculine edge. The flat brim gives adequate sun coverage.

Mannes Hat

Petite in size but bold in pattern– the Mannes hat is the perfect option for any gentleman that wants to get a bit more creative in his display. The braided pattern allows for an eye-catching look that can go with any color scheme. A short brim and form-fitting frame makes for a comfortable race day option.

The South Carolina Jockey Club

A race course is… animated by one absorbing passion. Race horses, shrouded in all the covering of hood and body-clothes, are led on the ground by their faithful grooms. Jockey stands, filled to overflowing with spectators, in their holiday finery, gazing on the passing scene, with eager, happy, and expectant faces… are huddled together…”

With thrilling accuracy, the words from the original agenda of the South Carolina Jockey Club still ring true today. For almost 300 years, South Carolinians have been trend-setters in bringing horse racing to national attention. While today’s itinerary includes horse races across the country, each event can trace ties to these origins. 

The Club’s Beginnings

South Carolina helped to bring horse racing to the regional and the national maps. On February 1st, 1734, the South Carolina Jockey Club was established, superseding the English Jockey Club by 16 years.

The club boasted an elegant exclusivity and featured figurehead members like Daniel Ravenel, John Drayton, and William Moultrie. However, the Revolutionary War interrupted a growing excitement for the club; the South Carolina Jockey Club ceased its participation until the British evacuation in 1783. From there, membership flourished and thus began the “golden age of racing.”

Charleston’s Role

Charleston began hosting annual February races at the York Course in present day North Charleston. The renowned Washington Race Course was the highlight of 10 tracks in the tri-county area and the venue for Charleston’s Race Week. This event disbanded traditional stereotypes– all social classes ventured to participate in the city’s celebrations. Women attended the event, and even had a designated gallery at the Washington Race Course for their viewing pleasure. Four stone pillars adorned the entrance of the Washington Race Course; uniquely, those pillars are proudly featured at the entrance of Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

The abundance of tourists Charleston sees began long before us; as the races grew in popularity during the 1850s, so did their attendees. New York City ships shuttled passengers to the Holy City, and breeders from across the region all wanted entry into the event. Businesses closed, schools dismissed students– daily life practices halted to direct attention to the tracks.

The galivanting regretfully ended with the onset of the Civil War. The war left the Jockey Club in shambles, forcing them to disband in 1899. When the charter ultimately revived in 1984, however, so did the longstanding values of southern honor and individual excellence. The practices and vitality from the original club gave life to the Stono Ferry Plantation. Today, the Steeplechase of Charleston thrives at these tracks and displays generations’ worth of love for horse racing.

A-Lines and Finish Lines: Race Day Fashion

Derby Day Fashion

Fashionable decadence has become the standard for horse races across the globe– and last week’s Kentucky Derby did not disappoint. The extravagant race day fashion that showed up for the 2021 Derby Day had us ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’ in jealous admiration at our television screens. As our excitement grows for the 2021 Steeplechase of Charleston, so do our expected hat sizes.

Today’s horse race viewers show out in outfits that straddle the line between fashion and art. Colorful plumes teeter above smiling attendees and speak to creative craftsmanship and attention to detail. 

From patterned blazers to beaded masks, we rounded up our fashion inspo for Steeplechase of Charleston and left our Derby viewing parties with renewed excitement. But we’re hardly the trendsetters in these modern day styles.

Race Day Style Origins

From its beginnings in the 12th century UK, horse racing has been a sport associated with class and extravagance. Women chased a high-class status by imbuing themselves with ornamented hats at the most highly-anticipated events of the year: weddings, balls, and horse races became avenues for aesthetic and socioeconomic display.

Today’s admiration for the lavish outerwear stems from much more innocent motives, but the thrill of dressing up for race day is the same. While Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. had sought to capture the European spirits and styles on American soil, today’s viewers seek to be a part of decades of class and intrigue. 

Since then, numerous competitions for the most unique race day looks have popped up across the country, fueling the fashion craze. Fashions on the Field is the highlight of the Melbourne Cup, and the Kentucky Oaks features the Longines Fashion Contest. Celebrities, royals, and eager fans all perpetuate the longstanding traditions and add to a growing love for race day.

Our Picks

The 2020 Steeplechase of Charleston attendees understood the wardrobe assignment. Viewers showed out in their most ornate designs and lavish colors and added to the November day spectacle. We pulled together some of our favorite looks from that day to kickstart your inspiration for Steeplechase 2021!

We can’t get enough of the colorful ornamentation on this vest! Stand out at Steeplechase of Charleston with your boldest and brightest patterns.

The bigger the better! The beautiful detail in this race day hat perfectly complements a chunky necklace and darker color scheme.

All red for race day! Stand out with a pop of color and an eye-catching accent to top it all off. Doesn’t hurt to have a bottle of champagne in your hand as well!

Make your presence known as the best-dressed couple at Steeplechase of Charleston. We can’t pick our favorite element of this gentleman’s attire– the hat? the glasses? the bowtie?

We love the coordination between this hat color and complementing accessories! This rich shade of purple is fit for a queen.

It’s never too early to start getting excited about your Steeplechase outfits. No matter where you’re getting your inspiration from, we can’t wait to see your race day get-ups at the 2021 Steeplechase of Charleston. Go bold!