This is my 15th year going to Oaks and Derby, and I’ve done it all: the infield, the paddock, first-floor, walk-arounds, third floor, millionaire’s row, turf club, suites. Some years have definitely been better than others. The highlight was hitting a BIG Trifecta when I was newly-pregnant, battling raging morning sickness. The sun was shining on me that day: I won money and didn’t vomit one time! The lowest was an Oaks when it monsooned and I wore a silk dress and had no poncho. I returned home and threw the dress in the garbage can; it was totally ruined.
Here’s what I learned in 15 years of packing for the day in a purse. This can be the fastest or slowest 12 hours of your life. You need to be prepared for anything so you don’t find yourself walking around Churchill Downs in the endless pursuit of a Band-aid or a ponytail holder.
Consider this a tried and true checklist:
1. Small purse that is cross-body or that has small strap (i.e., fits right under your armpit).
Churchill Downs has set a new rule that requires all purses need to be 12 inches. This does not give you a lot of leeway, but who wants to lug around the big purse/tote all day anyway. Get something small and fun-size everything in it.
Also, say a big NO to the clutch purse today. You have to set it down to get a drink, go to the bathroom and make your bet. Every time you set that purse down is an opportunity for you to leave that purse where you set it. Trust me, I’ve done it.
2. Small wallet
Don’t bring your big girl wallet with all your cards, for very obvious reasons. Get a small wallet or ID case and just put in the essentials, plus your all-important cash for betting!
3. Your phone and attachable phone juice pack
This Mophie is going to be featured in my May SB Finds next week, but this week is a perfect time to buy and use it. It is a iPhone juice pack that gives your smartphone an additional four hours of life. So at 5:00 p.m., when you are in the red zone on your battery, put this little guy on and buy yourself some more time. Plus, it doubles as a case, so nothing to carry separately.
4. Band-Aid Friction Block Stick or 2 bandaids, one for each heel.
I get it. You want to wear the awesome heels to Derby. You are willing to sacrifice your feet for the day for the greater good. People swear by the Band-Aid Friction Block Stick. It is a little pricey, compared to regular bandaids, at around $6. However, at the end of the day, that will be the best $6 you spend if your feet are not crying in pain.
5. Lip Balm
Lip balm is a given for me, like gum or mints, in my purse. My new obsession is Eos Lip Balms, the ones that look like cute little Easter eggs. I’m on a mission to try every flavor.
6. Makeup essentials
For me, essentials are a small travel palette (in case I have to go right to dinner afterward) and blotting papers.
Here are some of my favorites:
Bobbi Brown Mini Palette: Pick a palette, any palette works here at Bobbi. Comes with a mirror and a mini brush. These are usually in the $30-50 range.
7. Travel-size sunscreen
Go for either travel size or sample size sunscreen. I already know that you are putting on sunscreen before you leave, right. So this will just be for touch-up.
8. Ponytail holder
Like gum, mints or lip balm, this is a mandatory fixture in my purse. You never know when you are going to need one. You never know when your friend is going to need one. But if you don’t have one, your hair will bug you all day. These are Emi-Jays, which don’t hurt your hair and come in a lot of great colors.
In addition to your gum and mints, please put a pack of Wisps in your purse. After drinking Lilies and Mint Juleps all day, your mouth will thank you and your seatmates will too.
10. OPTIONAL Poncho or Garbage Bag
In the past, I have brought a poncho on a rainy day and loved myself for the decision to bring it. Then there have been days when I paid the janitor at Churchill Downs $10 for a garbage bag (it was a low point, people). Here’s a trick to remember just in case it’s cloudy and the ponchos are all sold out at Walgreens. Roll a garbage bag up teeny tiny and put your ponytail holder around it. It easily fits in your purse and then you’re good when it rains.
Now you are ready for anything. Time to start studying the program so that you can fill that purse up with CASH.