Terri Cardwell, stylist for Macy’s and wardrober to the Kentucky Derby Festival princesses speed-styles three models and shares her get-dressed-for-Derby strategies.


If you walk into Macy’s over the next few weeks, you’re likely to see a woman in black racing through the racks. She’s Terri Cardwell, stylist for Macy’s, wardrober for the Kentucky Derby Festival princesses and my partner in styling the Macy’s looks in the Macy’s KDF fashion show. We caught up with her before complete pre-Derby craziness sets in to pick up some styling insights for this Spring.

What’s your process for dressing our version of Derby royalty?

The princesses are chosen on Saturday and they have a press conference on Monday.  I get their sizes that evening and their looks are pulled and picked up on Sunday. By the grace of God, I seem to be able to dial them in with the sizes and the wardrobe that I choose. I usually dress them for the press conference and the fashion show.

Do you have any go-to collections for them?

It’s typically one of our private collections because we love to feature those. Last year, they were in Maison Jules and INC. This year, they wore Maison Jules and Michael Kors pea coats, because it’s typically freezing for the press conference. I like them to look complete and for their ensembles to be able to survive a long day of events. The other challenge is that January is not an ideal time to pull a stunning wardrobe for five princesses.

I try to give them the look of “pending Spring.” They’re typically walking out with a beautiful coat and the dress is always hopeful spring. It’s kind of a mixed media approach.

Do you go trendier with their looks at the Macy’s KDF fashion show?

“I do runway ready.  We’re about a month away. I wait as late as I can for the newest arrivals. I really like to use our private brands, so I’m sure they’re going to be sporting INC. It’s fun; it’s splashy and flirty. I’ll add something that gives it more of a high fashion finish which might be Rachel Roy or DKNY or Michael Kors.”

What trends are you excited about for Derby this year?

“Soft pinks and peaches are really strong. Even a soft-colored dress can have a lot of excitement because of details, like the ruffled sleeves or the sophisticated black piping on the dresses here.

And our fascinators are off the charts this year. We have hugely imaginative styles. Macy’s is getting better and better at understanding that market. We are an anomaly. Out of 800 stores, two (Louisville and Lexington) are paced differently because we have another Christmas. Macy’s has done an extraordinary job of understanding the iconic looks and drama behind the fashion for Derby. We are poised more than ever for it this year.”

Posted on 2018-03-01 by Christine Fellingham