Party Dressing

How to throw a Kentucky Derby party with recipes and style inspiration from Nordstrom.

One day each year, folks dress in their spring finery and head to the racetrack. Or, for about two minutes, some with otherwise no interest in equine affairs turn to their televisions. Mint juleps are poured. Bets are placed. Rapt eyes focus on Louisville, Kentucky, where for over a century 20 of the most beautiful and athletic horses in the world compete in the first of three races that form the Triple Crown.

“The Run for the Roses”—or the Kentucky Derby—is one of our enduring national pastimes. Although originally modeled after the English Epsom Derby, it has become distinctly American. Southern style, food and customs pervade the event and the many events surrounding the main one. But just as the race’s founders took liberties with the equestrian traditions of Europe, many households and barrooms throw alternative versions of the party on the lawn at Churchill Downs.

How to throw a Kentucky Derby party with recipes and style inspiration from Nordstrom.

Since the sporting life is as good a reason as any to rally around delicious food and drink, we invited some of our favorite Nordstrom people over for a Kentucky Derby party. Our menu included snack variations on traditional Southern foods, some strong cocktails and plenty of horsing around in front of the camera in candy-colored clothes. Since the main event usually takes just minutes, there’s ample time to catch up with each other and enjoy a pleasant, lazy afternoon that can easily drift from a casual cocktail hour into a light dinner.

How to throw a Kentucky Derby party with recipes and style inspiration from Nordstrom.

The Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 7. Undercard races begin at noon ET and the main event is at 4pm ET.

READ ON FOR OUR RECIPES AND “RACY” STYLE

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Getting ready for Kendall and Kylie’s pre-New York Fashion Week collection launch bash, I flipped on the TV in my hotel room and there they were. How funny, I thought, remembering that last time I prepared to interview the Jenners, the exact same thing happened in a different hotel room. But then I remembered that these women are on TV all the time. And now, perhaps the world’s most watched, most followed celebs will be in the mix with big fashion labels as the clothing and shoes from their brand-new line Kendall + Kylie go live at Nordstrom.

kendall_kylie_party_nordstromAll images courtesy Kendall + Kylie

Which Kendall + Kylie looks were Kendall and Kylie wearing? And what tracks did DJ Flat White (you know, Virgil Abloh, Kanye’s creative director) play? Glad you asked.

GET INSIDE THE KENDALL + KYLIE PARTY

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 Why should models have all the fun? Each month we’re finding a “real woman”—i.e., of any shape and size—and giving her the model treatment in The Realest. We bring the wardrobe, stylist, photographer and blog editor—she brings her anything-but-one-size-fits-all personality and style—and we all head out on location for an IRL photo shoot to showcase our monthly Dress Spotlight.

For this month’s installment, we met up with the wonderful Ribicca Mamuye. This Ethiopian-born lifestyle blogger (Abyssinia) and recent business school grad loves fashion, world travel and exploring local cuisines. We popped the cork on a bottle of champagne at a beautiful home in Portage Bay, had a mini dance party to some Diana Ross and generally partied like it was already 2016. At the end of our shoot, it was clear that this smart, ambitious young woman is on her way to great things in the new year and beyond.

HEAD-TO-TOE SPARKLE

New Year's Eve Dresses from Nordstrom.

On her style: “Describing my style is one of the hardest things for me to do. I do not like putting myself in a box since I like to continually elevate my style. If I had to choose, I would say my style is a mixture of trendy and sophisticated. I am a huge fan of prints thus my closet has a lot of personality. However, I also have days where I want to wear monochrome greys and nudes.”

On dressing for a party: “It depends on the season. During spring and summer the process is much easier since it’s not a must to have a layering piece. Fall and winter can be a little tricky since you have to find a happy medium between warm and sexy.

“For me, it always starts with the shoes. Once I pick out the shoes, I decide on the rest of my outfit—keeping in mind the occasion. Necklaces and bracelets are my go-to accessories, so I always add them as a third piece. I stick to studs when it comes to earrings since large ones overpower my outfit when my hair is in its natural state. I keep my makeup light for the most part but I like to wear bold, matte lip stains.”

SEE OUR PHOTOSHOOT WITH RIBICCA AND MORE NEW YEAR’S EVE DRESSES >

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Michelle Smith at the Milly Spring 2016 runway show

Holiday parties are the perfect time to break out the glitter and girliness, and Michelle Smith, the founder of the fashion label Milly, is just the lady to show us how to do festive dressing.

Smith started Milly in 2000, after studying in Paris and working in New York’s Garment District. Her designs incorporate sophisticated lines and luxury fabrics but exhibit an easy American sportswear sensibility, accomplished through playful embellishments and fun interpretations of classic shapes.

And if you need evidence that the designer knows how to have a good time, you only have to check out her Instagram account, @millybymichelle.

Milly front row for Spring 2016 show: Malin Akerman, Samira Wiley, Solange Knowles

Malin Akerman, Samira Wiley and Solange Knowles at the Milly Spring 2016 show.

What advice do you have for holiday dressing?

Since your coat is the first thing everyone sees, I like to invest in a statement coat in a gorgeous look-at-me color or with some kind of special detail, whether it’s a fur or a sequin collar. It instantly completes every holiday party look, but it also elevates everything else you wear during the season—even jeans and a sweater on the weekend. This is always the first thing I buy every holiday season; it goes the distance.

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Why should models have all the fun? Each month we’re finding a “real woman”—i.e., of any shape and size—and giving her the model treatment in The Realest. We bring the wardrobe, stylist, photographer and blog editor—she brings her anything-but-one-size-fits-all personality and style—and we all head out on location for an IRL photo shoot to showcase our monthly Dress Spotlight.

Meet Leah Watkins, a talented fashion designer and self-described jack of all trades with personality to spare. Not to mention just a lovely human being. We brought her to the quirky Palladian Hotel and spent the day playing around the boutique accommodations. Because, why not? Our only regret was having to leave the one-of-a-kind pillows behind.

SHINE ON – 2D SEQUINS

Holiday Party Dress Ideas--Sequins

holiday-party-dress-ideas 14

On dressing for a party: “If I’m going to a cocktail party, I’m going to want to feel beautiful and sexy without showing everything off. I like to show a little hint of skin and let the imagination do the rest. I love hemlines short, but sometimes I just want to evoke the spirit of Stevie Nicks and dance around in a floor-length maxi dress. I tend to gravitate towards black, and I don’t mind a little sparkle here and there.”

On her style: “My personal style is really influenced by motorcycle culture, rock & roll and the ’60s and ’70s. I definitely dress according to my mood, so some days I might wear lots of flowing florals, and some days I’m head to toe in black. I love vintage and try to incorporate at least one special and unique piece with every outfit. Nothing spices up an otherwise simple outfit like a great hat, a printed scarf or a very unique bag. One thing I can’t live without is my leather moto-jacket. It goes with everything!!”

dlp

SEE OUR PHOTOSHOOT WITH LEAH AND MORE PARTY DRESSES >

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Party Dresses: Make an Entrance

Eliza J Metallic Tulip Dress

Eliza J Metallic Tulip Dress

Office functions, galas, family gatherings, friendly get-togethers—between now and the new year there are a lot of parties coming. Bring ‘em on. We love a good party; it’s an excellent excuse to buy a new dress. Win, win! If you’re of the same mind, head over to our dress trend guide. It’s full of metallic minis, lacy LBDs and all manner of other beautiful frocks.

Shop: Our Party Dress Guide

Vince Camuto Sequin Scuba Shift Dress
BB Dakota Lace Fit & Flare Dress | Vince Camuto Scuba Shift Dress

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It’s almost time to ring in the New Year, but thankfully there’s still time to find the perfect party dress, and we’re talking about that dress to greet 2014 with a stylish bang! And our fabulous frock roundup includes dresses for every budget.

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HERO

The invites are stacking up, but what to wear to your holiday get-togethers? Whether it’s for your company Christmas party or cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with friends, here are six of our favorite little party dresses and trends that are fit for any fête.

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Deck Your Legs for the Holidays

Nothing says holiday like festive stockings adorning a fireplace mantel, right? This year, our window designers at the Nordstrom Seattle flagship store put their own spin on what to do with decorative stockings—why, flaunt them, of course!

From bold patterns to high shine, these stockings were made for glitzing up your legs during this chilly time of year—so make sure they’re seen.

Get this center look and add some shine to your winter style statement.
Pretty Polly Embellished Tights (Nordstrom Exclusive) | Sam Edelman ‘Pryce’ Pump
Joie ‘Tesla’ Lace Dress | Sondra Roberts Sequin Pouch | Ariella Collection Cocktail Ring
Cara Accessories Small Crystal Cuff

Find more fun hosiery options for every cold-weather occasion!

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