As every woman knows, SPRING RACE Carnival is not about horses. It’s about the clothes we get to wear. High heels, hats, the lot. It’s all about the minute details and sticking to the rules. In Sydney the first race of the Spring season starts in the first Saturday of September and in Melbourne it’s a second Saturday of September with the Sofitel Girl’s Day Out.
There are some considerations for proper race-wear at SPRING RACE Carnival. Dress appropriately and stick to etiquette. Think classy, sophisticated and head to toe style.
1. It’s a formal daytime occasion, like a wedding, not a nightclub. Don’t wear bright metallics and sequins. A dull metallic can work, but keep it bronze or pewter. Be ladylike and don’t over expose your skin. Watch hemlines. It’s always best to err on the side of chic. If it feels a bit short, it probably is. Aim for at least 61 centimetres of fabric from the waist. An open-toed shoe is perfect, and the higher the shoe, the better – no flats.
2. Hats, headwear, fascinators are the most important element of your race-day ensemble, so don’t get it wrong. There are many choices, from fascinators to trilbies and even berets. Sculptural forms are taking over from the flimsy feather. As for fabrication, straw always was the convention for spring racing but also silk, cotton or chiffon, sinamay, feathers, leather and even 3Dplastic!.
Make sure you have something appropriate on your head for your personal look. The more fuss you put on a hat, the more overworked and contrived you look from head to toe.
The bigger and more embellished your hat is, the less hair you want to see, so keep it chic and simple. But if you have a gorgeous tiny little headpiece then having your hair out is fabulous and a beautiful blow-dry is essential. The golden rule for earrings ? Hair down, small studs. Hair up, drop earrings.
3. There are traditions for specific race days, have fun with them but respect the dress code of the day. For the Fashions on the Field, judges looking for that unexpected fashion moment. Yes, they want to see a woman who is respectful of racing etiquette, but they also want to see something fresh and surprising.
Don’t pin a flower in your hair, thinking it appropriate head adornment. For something more modest, opt for a fascinator.
Don’t create a fight between your hat and your clothes. Pick a beautiful dress and demure hat, or a simple frock and a statement hat.
Don’t wear felt. Absolutely no felt for spring.
Don’t wear no hat at all. It looks as though you’ve made no effort…
The dress code of the SPRING RACE Carnival’s most important Days in Victoria and Sydney.
THE FIST WEEK OF NOVEMBER, is Australia’s largest sporting and social event, attracting thousands of local and international visitors in a celebration of premier horse racing, fashion and non-stop fun. Racegoers spend months planning their perfect look and while spring racing style takes its cues from contemporary trends, it’s also steeped in tradition with many observing the unique dress code and designated flower for each day. Here is a run-down of race day style traditions.
DerbyDay – Saturday, October : Melbourne
The first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is considered one of the most prestigious days of racing in Australasia. It is the oldest classic race on the Victorian calendar – it was first contested in 1855, six years before the Melbourne Cup.
Style Brief – Black and white are never out of style at Derby Day. Elegant and sophisticated, its monochrome dress code is a perfect excuse to show off graphic patterns and geo-influenced cuts.
Flower for men – Blue cornflower
Emirates Melbourne Cup – Tuesday, November : Melbourne and Sydney
Australia’s most famous race is always run on the first Tuesday in November over a distance of 3200m (2 miles) at Flemington Racecourse. It is the Southern Hemisphere’s richest race ($6.2 million) drawing international competition and more than 100,000 people to the track.
Style Brief – With its celebratory air, the race that stops the nation deserves a winning ensemble. Translation? Melbourne Cup is the day for a strong fashion statement. Bold colour and vibrant prints are key to the Melbourne Cup’s dress code. Hats are customary.
Flower for men– Yellow rose.
Crown Oaks Day– Thursday, November in Victoria
In 1962, the Victoria Racing Club introduced the Fashions on the Field competition to “woo more women to the races” and now, for many, this is the real race that stops a nation. Crown Oaks is Victoria’s premier event for three-year-old fillies.Oaks Day is a time to embrace all things fine and feminine. It’s traditionally known as Ladies Day, so think ladylike maxis, pretty florals and hints of lace to strike a balance of graceful and chic. The winner of Fashions on the Field, the national fashion competition of Australian department store Myer, is also announced on this day.
Style Brief – Romantic, feminine looks and delicate fabrics.
Flower for men– Pink rose
Emirates Stakes Day – Saturday, November in Victoria
The Melbourne Cup Carnival finishes with Emirates Stakes, the premier mile race in Victoria. Stakes Day is known for its relaxed, garden party atmosphere and is recognised as the Carnival’s Family Day, a highlight being the children’s Fashions on the Field where the young ones have the chance to to parade their race day fashions.
Style Brief – Something more relaxed but still festive.
Flower for men– Red rose
Though it has a slightly relaxed tone, the Caulfield Cup‘s dress code still demands chic statements and designer details. Its garden party atmosphere is a perfect chance to work bold accessories or playful prints into your look. Liven up sophisticated ensembles with flashes of jewel tones and graphic prints.
Races Style Briefs by Irina
Irina Kalonatchi is the founder and publisher of online fashion hub Fashion blog. Based in Sydney, Irina creates a curated edit of new trends, her most-loved shopping finds, beauty ‘how-to’s’ and exclusive fashion editorials, with the intent of appealing to all fashion seekers.
Irina draws on her personal experiences, networks and fifteen years of fashion industry experience to bring Fashionblog readers a comprehensive fashion resource that closes the gap between high-end and high-street fashion and beauty.
Photography by George Gittany.
For those of who have been at the Sydney’s horse races and participated at the Fashion on the Fields and who haven’t heard of George Gittany, I guarantee that you’ve seen his work before. He has shot the most interesting moments of the horse racing Carnivals in Sydney.