Spring Carnival is here: time to frock up and primp oneself in readiness

Nikki ParkinsonBeauty, Fashion 33 Comments

Luca & Marc dress $69.95, Isabella Brown clog heels $69.95 www.harisscarfe.com.au

“By the end of the day, some girls look like they’ve been IN the races … they need re-shoeing.”   These words are not mine.  They do in fact belong to comedian Jimeon.  (He was commenting on the Spring Racing Carnival at a charity do I was at last week.)       

What I love about these statements are that they sum up the two big DON’Ts of dressing for the races.       

1.  You are not at a nightclub.  It’s not dark.  You will look VERY grubby should you partake a little too much and a little too early in the nice bubbly beverages that flow from the big fancy marquees into the public areas of race tracks and restaurants around Australia.   Anyone who as ever been sober at 4pm at the track on Melbourne Cup Day will happily back me up on this.   Pace. Yourself. People.       

2.  No matter how much your feet hurt. DO NOT take off your shoes and go bare feet.  This is what you would do should you be a romantic couple taking a sunset walk along the beach, not a drunken stumble past the bookies.  And no, if an equally drunken man is propping you up as you stumble, this is not romance.  This is something you will probably not want your bestie to post on Facebook tomorrow.  Or for your mum to see. Or for your husband to see if you’ve taken off for the arvo, made him do the school pick-up while you had an extremely good time with your girlfriends.      

{I have to thank The Herald Sun for this gem of an illustration.  Her mum must be so proud.}       

In the words of Jimeon: "She needs re-shoeing." (Photo: www.heraldsun.com.au)

Anyway, I KNOW that you, my dear Styling You readers would never be caught (on camera) in such a state.  You will already have put some manner of planning into your outfit and have determined where you will be spending the afternoon on November 2.  And if you haven’t, never fear, I’m here to help.      


1.  Skin prepping.  Should the weather gods be shining on all of us across Australia (and can I just say, they could please listen as we’ve all copped enough of this unseasonal stuff of late), then there will be a little bit of skin exposure.  Not too much.  But a little bit more than we’ve done recently due to that aforementioned unseasonal weather.  I’ve already had two spray tans this season and I’ll be lining up for my third before Cup Day or else I’ll whip on a little bit of this tan in a can that morning.  Currently LOVING ModelCo’s One Night Tan ($12.95) at the moment. Easy peasy for instant colour.      

ModelCo OneNightTan 65g $12.95 www.modelco.com.au

2.  The mani and pedi.  Just like the legs which may not have seen much sun of late, your toenails may be in need of a little love and care.  A DIY job is a cinch with the Orly range.  I love the fact that the Orly base coat grips on to the colour.  It should even survive some nasty person stepping on said toes at the bar.  Currently loving the very new Foil FX range for a metallic nod to this season’s hot pastel shades.      

Orly FoilFX $18.95 www.orlybeauty.com.au

3.  The makeup.  You’re after staying power here.  Try the new MAC Prolongwear range (trust me, your foundation won’t budge … will still be on if you make to post-Cup drinks at your favourite bar).  For lips, I’m loving the new Innoxa Couleurs D’Eté Summer Matte Collection.  For $14.95, you can splash out in every colour.  Gloss is so last Cup Day, honey.      

Innoxa Couleurs D’Eté Summer Matte Collection $14.95 each www.innoxa.com.au

4.  Hair.  This will depend on which way you are swinging with your headpiece, hat, fascinator.  If in doubt, book into your hairdresser. NOW.  If not, start practising.  For my money, a gorgeous bouncy, blow-dry effect can be achieved with The O by Cloud Nine ($299 plus rollers $29 for a pack of four). These are like heated rollers like no other.  You simply pop them in the O, in seconds they are heated up and ready to be styled into your hair.  They’re lightweight and use so much less power than the conventional heated rollers. To make your do last the distance, pack your hair with voluminising mousse (and I mean pack!) and use a finishing hair spray with each section you roll.  Either wear down or scoop up into a sexy pony and you’re ready in minutes.      Here’s a little video, I had fun putting together:

Cloud Nine The O single roller (available in three sizes - packs of four $29). www.cloudninehair.com.au

Cloud Nine The O Pod II ($299). www.cloudninehair.com.au


1.  The dress.  This is a very important starting point for your race day outfit.  Don’t deviate too much from the normal style of dress you like to wear but do push the fun boundaries through colour and/or texture.  Huge this season are the nudes/pastel colours, vivid brights and for my money, black and white always works. Make sure you feel comfortable – and like a million bucks.  And if you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?), choose something that will double for a Christmas party next month too.      

Sacha Drake Guinevere Dress $239 www.sachadrake.com

Moss&Spy dress $321 www.mossandspy.com.au

Wayne Cooper Watercolour Print Multi-Layer Gown $795 www.waynecooper.com.au

2.  The hat.   Do not head to the races without some form of headgear.  Now I know that sounds like you need protecting in a contact sport (and please refer to what I wrote above as that may indeed be the case) but the headgear I’m talking about ranges from the fascinator, to the headband, head piece, hatinator and to a full-blown hat.  What you choose is your thing just make sure it complements the other parts of your ensemble.  Dressing for the races is not just about whacking a hat on your head and cracking the bubbly.   Ask around and find a milliner who can work with you to create a piece that is unique for your outfit and your personality.  A well-crafted hat IS a work of art.  (Let’s just say I have a noice collection!). And a word of hat etiquette from my favourite milliner, Hats by Sandy A’s Sandy Aslett:  “You are welcome to remind others that it is NOT good hat etiquette for someone to ask you if they can try your piece on while you are wearing it.  Yes, people will try,” she said.     

Hats by Sandy A "Chicago" hat. www.hatsbysandya.com.au

Hats by Sandy A Bloomin Spring hat. www.hatsbysandya.com.au

3.  The shoes.  So here’s a tricky one.  You want to look good but you want to actually stand upright all day. Look for a shoe that offers a more sturdy heel or a platform.  That way you’ll still have height but won’t need to sit down all day.  Colourwise, if you are choosing a frock in nude/pastel shades, then grab a pair of nude heels.  They will not only extend your leg making you look like a supermodel, but they’re number one in the fashion stakes right now. If your shoes represent a significant investment and you’ll be walking over grass, then invest in some heel savers.  Starlettos (pictured below), Heel Huggers or Heel Candy all work a treat.   

Betts Diamond Heel $129. www.betts.com.au

The new Crystal Starletto $19.99 a pair. www.starlettos.com.au

4. The bag .  This can be a tricky one.  For a day out you feel like you need a tote bag but for a race outfit, that’s just not going to cut it.  A clutch works best, slightly oversized so you can still fit your essentials.  Your bag does not need to matchy-match your shoes but it should complement one aspect of your outfit.  And on the subject of matchy-matchy.  Try and avoid it.  You will look too put together.  You want to look effortlessy put together – and you’re right in thinking that that takes more work.    

Strandbags The Ruffle Flapover bag $39.99. 02 9479 7777

5.  The jewellery.  Your hat is not the only statement you will make at a day at the races.   How you work in your jewellery will make a big difference on the overall impact of your outfit.  One word of warning, though.  Try not to have too many statements going on or you’ll just be over the top and not interest-worthy.  So, if your hat is OTT, then keep your jewellery on the subtle side.  If you’re opting for an understated hat, then up the wow factor with a statement neckpiece.   Regardless of your hat or neckpiece, a statement cocktail ring, always works.  Wear it on the hand that will be holding your champagne glass and wait for the compliments to roll in.    

Secrets Shhh Summer Rose pink & white diamond simulants $595 www.secrets-shhh.com.

IME Anish Necklace $185 www.imedesigns.com.au

Ghost and Lola earrings $128. www.ghostlola.com.au

And afterwards … once you make it home, treat those poor feet to a Milky Foot.  Milky Foot ($29.95-$34.95) is a luxurious in-home pedicure treatment that will leave your feet feeling silky smooth. It’s really easy to use, just pop the gel-filled booties on, kick your feet up for an hour and remove.  Five to 10 days later your feet will be feeling milky and soft, recovered and ready for the party season.  Available at all good pharmacies or www.biorevive.com or call 1300 790 978  

Milky Foot treatment $29.95-$34.95. www.biorevive.com

That’s it folks.  Remember to have fun but keep those shoes on (or bring along some fold-up ones for the trip home).  Oh, and I’d love to know … what’s the worst Cup Day fashion crime you’ve ever stumbled across on the way to the porta-loos?

Comments 33

  1. Hi Nikki can you tell me if you have tried Black Magic 2-Hour ‘Super Natural’ Certified Organic Spray Tan? If yes is it any good?

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  2. Just found this blog through the AMB carnival – what a find, love it! As much fun as frocking up.

    Especially loved the advice on what to say should someone want to try on your headpiece.

    On a different note, am I alone in my hatred for the word “fasinator?” I don’t know what it is, could it be because of Kath & Kim?

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  3. wow! what a lot of information to digest and plan into my life 🙂 I have never been to the races – not my thing but it sure looks like fun and I love the idea of the dressing up part!

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      You’re right, Veronica … you just need to turn up at 4pm and hang around the exit gates. I’ve been there sober many a time as I was either covering it as a journo or had been working as a fashions on the field judge. INTERESTING.

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  4. GREAT post! I’ve heard great things about the new MAC Pro longwear range, perfect for day-long events like the races. This entire post is relevant for the entire party season actually – bookmarking it now!

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