Fab Friday style tip: how to stay classy at the races this spring

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 14 Comments

In my former life as a regional magazine editor I was often enticed by promises of champagne asked to judge fashions on the field events at the local race track.

Disclaimer: we’re not talking a dirt and dust race track. This particular track is regarded as one of the country’s finest and it certainly is a beautiful place to drink champagne watch horse races while dressed up and looking pretty.

… or so you would think.

Every Melbourne Cup Day. Without fail. I’d witness a new spectacle in the carnival that is spring racing.

And I’m not talking about the spectacle after the last race at 4pm when young girls and their not-so-dashing gents seem to take a keen interest in gardening. Or at least passing out in said gardens while waiting for a cab.

No, I’m talking about the spectacle around lunch time when the young fillies line up, clutching their fashions on the field number in one hand and a plastic glass of champers in the other, teetering and sinking in heels across the grass to walk up on stage for judging.

If there is a fall, Lordy … let’s just say that knowing whether they’d had a Brazilian as part of their Cup Day-grooming is more information than a judge needs to know.

What these girls – and I’ll call them girls because most of them had to show their id to get through the gates – got wrong every year was that they thought that whacking a fascinator in their hair and working it back with the outfit they wore clubbing the Friday night before was going to cut it.

After being abused by one Tramp of the Track lovely young lady who stumbled over to the judges’ tent to take issue with our decision, I was forever grateful that as soon as the winner was presented with her bevvy of prizes that we were whisked away to the VIP area for a more champagne civilised lunch.

And I was forever grateful that no matter how many track tramps presented themselves for judging, there were always enough racegoers dressed to impress to make a stunning example on how to style it up.

Spring Racing style at Harris Scarfe

Spring Racing style at Harris Scarfe www.harrisscarfe.com.au

So, as we head full steam into the Spring Racing Carnival, I thought I’d share my key points for turning heads (in the right way) at the track.

1. Start with your frock. Apart from Derby Day when it’s tradition to wear black and white, there’s no excuse not to embrace colour when heading for the track this season – you’ll find everything from graphic prints to bold blocks.

2. Be adventurous in your accessorising. A winning racewear outfit is all about the details.

3. Don’t make your hat an after-thought. Make it the focal point of your outfit. Thanks to the Royal Wedding (Princess Beatrice’s stunner aside) the hat or hatinator has made a huge comeback.

4. Make sure it all works together. Not in a matchy-matchy 1950s way, more in a complementing way.

5. Do choose an outfit that reflects in some way a current trend but don’t be a slave to that trend – judges want to see individuality.

6. If heading to Melbourne, plan an option for your outfit that accommodates a possible cold and wet day. A flimsy summer frock accessorised by goosebumps and frozen nipples is not a stylish look.

7. Don’t let your outfit down by slack grooming. Hair, nails, a pedi and possibly a light spray tan (depending on your outfit) make all the difference.

8. Please don’t walk out the gates at the end of the day barefoot with your shoes in your hand. Choose shoes you can go the distance in or take fold-up flats to change into.

 Shopping suggestions

Click to enlarge

 1. Country Road drape front dress $249 | 2. Hats by Sandy A hat $330 | 3. Nancy Ganz sleek slip dress $149.95 | 4. Country Road Santana heel $199 (available this month) | 5. Mimco hybrid headband $149 | 6. Prada sunglasses £200 at Net-a-Porter | 7. Olga Berg clutch $59.95 at Myer | 8. Diana Ferrari jacket $169.95 | 9. Starlettos (to save your heels) $14.99 | 10. Samantha Wills earrings $170 | 11. Carly Paiker ring $132 | 12.  Peep Toe clutch $110 at Westfield online | 13. Trenery dress $149

Are you planning to go to the races this Spring Carnival season? Have you got an outfit planned? Need a little advice … or just someone to stand guard while you avail yourself of the porta-loo facilities?

Comments 14

  1. After my recent outing to the races I can tell you I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to look like a track tramp but I also didn’t want to look as though I had not tried either. Going to the races can be pretty stressful to someone who’s worried about what others may say/ think about their outfit.
    I think I did alright with my first attempt (I hope)
    Thanks for sharing lots of great tips as usual.

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  2. My husband and I regularly go the races (at least once a month). It never fails to amaze me what some girls (and boys) class as racewear, especially during the autumn carnival.

    I do have to say that Melbourne race goers often have a better understanding than in Sydney, where most seem to think they’re going to a nightclub. It was a pleasure to go down there and see some classy outfits.

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  3. When I was in the midst of my pregnant, breastfeeding, pregnant, breastfeeding stage, my lovely husband was working in Corporate Sourcing so we were invited to the Birdcage for a number of years for Melbourne Cup. Being sober (darn it!) I always used to make sure I would take some time out to venture towards the public arena – such amazing sights. You give good advice Nikki!

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  4. As my sometimes adviser says….

    Better to be seen being carried, then to be seen carrying your shoes.

    Thanks, Lillian, I have taken this advice since I hit 25 and invested in decent shoes.

    I love race season here in Melbourne, haven’t been enough lately though

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  5. These fab friday tips are my favourite – it’s just something nice to look forward to in the end of each week. I’m not a big race goer due to the messyness of it all but always love to see what people (women) are wearing. This year I’m loving bright colours: the green dress above is just lovely combined with the tan coloured CR heels.

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