It’s that time of year again. If you’re a Melbournian then you definitely understand that the Spring Racing carnival is THE time of year to get into the current fashion trends and enjoy a track-side beverage. It’s all fun and games until you don’t prepare yourself or plan ahead and end up shoe-less, sunburnt and not so fancy.
These are some of my personal tips to get you through this spring racing season.
- Do your research (not much is required!) for the days you’re planning to attend. By this, I mean, if you’re going to Derby Day – you need to understand that the tradition is to dress in black and white (monochrome). It’s so important to uphold these traditions. There’s nothing worse than not dressing to reflect the theme. A few quick hints for dress codes:
- Derby Day: black and white
- Oaks Day: florals, feminine themes on this day
- Cup Day: go for bold, brights, wear your biggest and best head pieces for the ladies
- Stakes Day: is a little more relaxed and casual. It’s traditionally family day, so you can dress in less structured outfits and maxi dresses/wedges are more acceptable if that’s what you feel comfortable in.
- Ladies! Please wear your headpieces. I don’t care if you are a fascinator, hat or hatinator (yep this is an actual term for a piece that is more or less halfway between a hat and a fascinator) type of gal – just please, put some effort in and put something on your head/in your hair! Now – I know these are expensive items. Even generic pieces from the big department stores are pricey. But if you’re heading to multiple events you don’t have to go out and buy brand new pieces for each event (unless your budget allows for this). A few cheaper alternatives for race wear:
- Borrow a friend’s item from previous carnivals. The good thing about spring racing head wear is that, generally speaking, they don’t date too badly over 3-5 year periods. You can totally get away with wearing that fascinator your best friend wore three years ago. Especially if you’re wearing a different outfit, they’ll be none the wiser.
- Check out millinery on eBay (or Etsy/similar for that matter). There are loads of milliners with great eBay stores these days. The great thing about it is they make bespoke pieces at a lower cost (because they’re not based on clients existing outfits, just rather straight from the milliner’s head) and you’ll still be the only person at the races with that exact piece.
– Think outside the box and get creative. Make your own at a fraction of the cost of purchasing or getting a bespoke piece made. I know we’re all not that creative/skilful to actually make our own, but hey, if you are – go for it! You’ll save heaps of money if you can do this. I haven’t personally done this before, but have seen friends do it in the past, and these guys are always the ones that receive the most attention/compliments…because they are different.
But if you are looking to have something made to order, this year I have used two milliners (both Victoria based) that I can recommend.
- Consider buying tickets to a marquee. I won’t sugar coat this option – it’s expensive. But what this option also is, is free of crowds, queues to the bars and bathrooms, ample seating and usually includes live entertainment, food options and after parties. This is a great option if you’re only planning to do one or two race days. It will make your day a lot more comfortable and absolutely more enjoyable. I definitely won’t go to the races without some kind of ticket upgrade, basically because I can’t stand being amongst some of the rougher individuals that are inevitably going to be getting rowdy on the day, like any sporting event.
- Place some bets, and actually enjoy what we all came here to do – watch some horse racing. I am definitely NOT advocating gambling. In fact, I’m seriously awful at anything that involves games of chance. But what I have come to accept is that the races can be bloody boring if all you do is get dressed and turn up. Even if you’re putting bets less than $5 on a couple of races, at least you have a reason to get engaged, excited and involved.
- Don’t wear your shortest skirts and/or highest heels. If you do, you’re asking for a bad time. Navigating the racecourses is usually going to mean encountering rough terrain; grass, gravel and so on. Let’s just say, it’s no walk in the park. You need to be prepared and I suggest wearing shoes with a more solid heel or wedge (I prefer no wedge for the races but ABSOLUTELY go wedge over stiletto, put it that way). I also suggest making sure your heel height is NO MORE than 10cm – unless you are in fact wearing a wedge with a bit of a platform. As for the short skirt comment. The ideal length for racing fashion is just above, on or just below the knee. You’ve got three options; it’s not hard to find an outfit option that fits one of those specifications.
Follow me on Instagram to see what I wore to this year’s race days – @margotmoore