Kimberli (pronounced Kim-Ber-Lie) Mackay is a milliner (a hat maker) and the director of design for Betmar Hats in Manhattan, New York who flies to San Diego every year to sell personalized hats through the Village Hat Shop.
“I’m here to help people pick out hats and get them exactly what they need for the [Del Mar] Races,” Mackay explains, “It’s best if they can get out of their usual simple dress and so something really beautiful and stretch the limits a little bit.” She goes on to describe how to choose the perfect hat for your face type. “If you have a very long face, you do not want to get [a hat with] a really long crown because it exentuates it too much. You want to pair off opposites so that you are showing off the best of your face.”
Mackay reminds us that Opening Day at the Del Mar Races is “one of the rare occasions you can get all dolled up” so don't hesitate to wear something really dressy.
Dressing up for the Races began as a celebration when you would wear your Sunday best and where you could show off your financial standing and your sense of taste. This tradition has since continued, but the sense of taste is more stressed since it is not difficult to find a cheap outfit now-a-days. At Mackay’s trunk show, you can buy hats for as low as $28.95.
One of her customers, Shannon Rager, gives her reason for dressing up and getting a personalized hat for the big day. “It’s what everyone does. When you go to the Del Mar Races, you have to have this huge, big fancy hat. [Mackay] is specializing a hat just for me. She took off the drawstring tie and she added a bow tie for me to match my dress. I’m so lucky.”
Lucky, indeed, because the Races are not a place where you would want to find yourself wearing the same hat as somebody else.
Guys, don’t think you’re off the hook from wearing one. “There’s nothing sexier than a man in a hat,” Mackay informs us, “And all women think that.” Well, if she says so! After all, she is the hat expert.
So gals and guys, if you haven’t gotten your outstanding hats already, do so! The Races are this Wednesday and you just can’t afford to show up hat-less.