SPRING RACING CARNIVAL: DRESS CODE ETIQUETTE

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO FASHION

With the Spring Racing Carnival in full swing there’s never been a better opportunity to ditch the t-shirt and jeans for a pretty dress and party hat. However, dressing for a day at the races is a special occasion and race-wear etiquette stems from a formal dress code passed down through generations of racing clubs. In recent years the rules have become a little more relaxed, but even if you’re not competing in the prestigious outdoor fashion event, Fashions on the Field, there’s still a tradition of elegance one must adhere to, ensuring you’re still one of the finest dressed fillies on the track.

When it comes to choosing the right outfit, we’re blessed in Australia to have so many avenues to explore the current trends; look to the runways, in-store or online to gain some outfit inspiration, but there are some basic guidelines to stick to at all times.

FASHION DO’S

  • Embrace bright bold colours, feminine florals, pastels and monochrome prints.
  • Wear open-toed shoes, wedges and pumps.
  • Make sure you break your heels in prior to the day to ensure they’re comfortable.
  • Wear a dress that falls to the knee, think ‘modern takes on the classics’.
  • Always wear a headpiece; hats and fascinators full of bright colours and florals are right on trend.

FASHION DON’TS

  • No short skirts, pants, shorts or jumpsuits.
  • No midriff tops, thigh-high splits or anything too revealing.  If you’d wear it to a nightclub, it’s not appropriate for a day at the races.
  • No strapless dresses, especially if you have Members entry, shoulders must be covered.
  • Do not take your shoes off and walk bare foot, pop a pair of fold-up ballet flats into your bag in case of emergency.
  • Use too much fake tan or bronzer, the race days are often hot and there’s nothing more awkward than turning everything you touch orange.

The 2015 Melbourne Cup Carnival is the highlight of spring racing in Victoria and features four prestigious racing events over the course of a week. Kicking off the soirée is Derby Day, considered among many to be the most glamorous day of the carnival, followed by the Melbourne Cup Day where the ‘race that stops a nation’ takes centre stage, two days later is Oaks Day, traditionally known as ‘ladies day’, and ceremoniously closing the week of racing is Stakes Day, a day for the whole family to come out and enjoy.

Each of these race days have different rules and regulations when it comes to fashion, and I was lucky enough to be given full reign to raid the endless supply of stunning dresses at Something Nice, a small, family-owned boutique nestled in the heart of Kogarah, NSW, to put together three distinct race-wear outfits.  And of course, as we’ve learnt earlier, no race-day look is complete without a beautiful crowning headpiece, and My Milliner stepped in to provide an elegant assortment of fascinators to compliment the dresses.

DERBY DAY

Kicking off the week-long festivities, Derby Day’s traditional dress code is black and white.  You can’t go wrong with any of the new season’s latest trends in monochrome, elegant takes on the LBD, classic stripes and polka dots.

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Wayne Cooper

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Wayne Cooper

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Wayne Cooper

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Wayne Cooper

 

Available at SOMETHING NICE:  This striking WAYNE COOPER Olympia midi-length dress from the current SS15 ‘Untitled’ Collection features monochrome panelling with a black mesh midriff trim and exposed zipper.

Worn with MY MILLINER Alina fascinator.

MELBOURNE CUP DAY

A day to get creative and let your personality shine through your outfit, Melbourne Cup Day is traditionally a celebration of bold designs, plenty of colour, statement prints, block colours and fun headpieces.

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Unspoken

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Unspoken

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Unspoken

Available at SOMETHING NICE: This feminine, lightly figure-hugging UNSPOKEN Seven Seas Short Dress in Ballet/White features a high white cross-over neckline and knee-length split detail.

Worn with MY MILLINER Bonnie fascinator.

OAKS DAY

This is your day ladies!  Embrace your feminine side with elegant styling, floral prints and floaty outfits, and whilst black and white is always in fashion during the Spring Carnival, Oaks Day is where we see hues of pastels shine through.

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Talulah

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Talulah

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Talulah

 

Josette O'Sullivan in Talulah

Available at SOMETHING NICE: The epitome of modern ladylike sophistication, this TALULAH Rise Floral Full Midi Dress is from the ‘Superstitious’ Collection and features a digital floral print,  fitted structured bodice, asymmetric shoulder straps and a fully lined A-line skirt.

Worn with MY MILLINER Cara fascinator.