How to create a winter races outfit

Wardrobe boot camp: how to create a winter races outfit

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 19 Comments

Editor’s note: This is regular series in which we help Styling You readers solve a particular wardrobe or clothing crisis with a little advice and some shopping suggestions. If you think you’d like to be considered as part of a Wardrobe Boot Camp post, then please email me ([email protected]) with a couple of photos and a brief run down of what specific help you would like.

Anthea is a corporate mum, whose style can switch from suits to hi-vis gear, one day to the next. And on weekends it’s all about casual, running after the kids and ferrying them to sport. And  now she’s been invited to the races – Stradbroke Day – a big event on the winter racing calendar in Queensland. My mission?  To help her create a winter races outfit.

Wardrobe Boot Camp: Anthea

The Plea

Help I have been invited to a private box for Stradbroke Day on June 8. What should I wear?

I turned 40 in December.  Which is my other issue, changing my style and realising I am no longer a young 30-something and dressing as a 40-year-old!

I work for a heavy machinery company, so every now and then I get to pull on King Gee work gear and steel cap boots. I actually love doing this as I get away from being a city suit for a day.

My style is practical on the weekends, for running to kids sport etc and if I go out at night, I do like to dress up, but am equally comfortable in jeans. 

Although I have a good career and get paid well, kids and mortgage etc suck the life out of my bank account, so I need to balance my wardrobe with pieces from Target and then hopefully for special occasions go out and spend on something nice, but by no means will it be super pricy.  My favourite shop for special occasion dressing is Hunt and Gather in Hamilton as they have a good range of brands and most items are in my price range.

The tips

1. Ok, so forget this 40-year-old business and needing to dress differently. You’re still the same person you were a year ago … go with what feels fun and fabulous for YOU.

2. I love, love, love winter racing. It does take a bit of effort to get your look together but it’s quite glamorous and fun. When you’re at the track in winter, it is not a sweaty affair and you’re less likely to come across the Spring Racing Season species of sweet young things, I like to affectionately call, Tramps of the Track. These girls are fond of wearing tops as dresses with little for the imagination underneath. This can be ok on entry at 11am but when mixed with a combination of hot sun and champagne, tends to degenerate about 4pm around the port-a-loos or in the gutters nearest the cab ranks.

3. As a former fashions on the field judge at the track, I can tell you that there are indeed some “rules” to follow should you be heading to a swish part of the track, as you are. Autumn-winter racing fashion usually dictates the wearing of clothes representative of the season, so incorporating closed-in shoes, hosiery, and a hat or fascinator that includes winter fabrications, for example felt, is a must. Gloves are a great optional extra too.

4. In Queensland, even in June, the day can start and end on the chilly side. In the middle bit it can be sunny and the equivalent of an English heatwave. This is tricky to dress for but do-able. I’d stick to a sleeveless frock and cropped jacket or a frock with long  or three-quarter sleeves. Still with hosiery.

5. It’s still possible – and essential – to show your personality and give a nod to current fashion trends with your outfit. Yes, racewear is steeped in the tradition of the track but the fashion side can get as adventurous as you’d like. As long as you meet the “rules” of the season.

6. If you’re not wanting to spend money on a winter hat for one event, I would send the call-out to your girlfriends to see if they’ve got anything suitable to borrow. Then work your way back from there with the rest of the outfit.

7. If starting your outfit from scratch, then start with the frock. It is so much easier to match a hat to an existing frock than the other way round.

8. Don’t get caught up in a game of Matchy-Matchy. The elements of your outfit should complement each other but they don’t have to all be the same colour.

9. If you are buying a hat or having one made (check Gumtree, eBay and Etsy) for up and coming milliners or vintage hats, then opt for something with a black base colour that can perhaps be adaptable for a different occasion with the addition of different coloured feathers, flowers, ribbon or other adornments.

10. Opt for shoes with a heel but ones that you won’t want to kick off within five minutes of arrival. As an insurance policy (and the taxi queue), I always take an over-sized clutch containing my fold-up flats.

11. Have fun with it. An afternoon at the races can be a hoot. And dressing up is all part of that.

The shopping

How to create a winter racewear outfit


1. Jane Lamberton dress $139 @ Myer | 2. Morgan & Taylor cloche $59.96 (on sale) @ Myer | 3. Colette clutch $29.95 | 4. Nude heels $149.95 @ Style Tread | 5. Firehosiery tights $19.95 | 6. Target necklace $6

Are you heading to the races this winter? Or a regular races goer? What tips can you share with Anthea?

PS. Not going to the races but have a winter wedding coming up. This outfit would work – and you wouldn’t need the hat.


Comments 19

  1. Firstly, the best piece of advice you gave to Anthea (and the rest of us, for that matter) is: “You’re still the same person you were a year ago … go with what feels fun and fabulous for YOU.” – BRAVO! Something we all need to remember. Now to the fashion. I couldn’t agree with you more and I absolutely love the outfit you put together. It would be perfect for any winter event, with or without the hat. x

  2. Thank you for the tips Nikki! I am looking forward to nailing my look for the races. Also thank you for all the comments and maybe I was misunderstood in my “age” comment. I love being 40 and feel very comfortable in my skin and with my style. I just work very hard and long hours and don’t have the time like I used to BK (Before Kids) and sometimes pull a piece out of the back of the wardrobe where I do think “Should I really be wearing this”. Not that I don’t like being high street & fashionable, but what was appropriate for a night of clubbing 10 years ago, is probably not suiting my life or pace of life now!

  3. Gorgeous and very classy. Thanks for inspiring me Nikki. Shopping can be daunting at times especially with big events coming up.

  4. Nope I don’t do races,but Love the outfit you have chosen anyway. But I so so agree about the age thing I have not changed my style just because I am going to be 50 this year ,maybe I have looked harder at pieces than before and I have adapted a look I like with say a longer top but Anthea you are so young enjoy it ,the years fly by so fast! Most of the women I see looking lovely are older ones they have their style nailed and look chic and know what suits them.
    Also for Anthea if she doesn’t feel comfy in heels,there are some nice patent wedges around I picked up a pair to wear to dressy events and look just as nice as heels ,and I can actually walk in them and be comfortable as well.Great Post Nikki.

  5. I absolutely love that dress – I think I’m going to have to visit Myer. I’ve only been to the races once, in Summer. The look for Winter seems so much classier and put together – love it!

  6. I am so relieved at your number one tip, Nikki. When I read the part about Anthea saying she had to start realising she was not a young 30-something and had to start dressing as a 40 yr old, I started to get upset. It’s ridiculous really that I should have such a reaction but even the idea of someone else thinking they have to change their style, against their will because the years are ticking by…well, it agitates me. Whew! I’m glad I got that off my chest. Love that Jane Lamberton dress!

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