A Gentleman's guide to dressing for the Melbourne Cup Carnival

For many of the men around town, it’s that time of year again. Days are becoming longer, the warmth of the sun is starting to shine through and excitement is in the air for this years’ Spring Racing Carnival! The time has come to prepare yourselves and plan your race day outfits, following dress codes and staying true to raceday traditions and trends.

The first step is to embrace the pleasure of the dressing process and identify how much of your personality you wish to put on display, then commence the shopping process to find the look, fit and style to best achieve that. Allowing for comfort and quality should also be key drivers in your decision making as attending the Carnival can involve long days, and the aim is to look as fresh at the end of the day as you did at the start.

Choose colours and patterns that enhance or hide, for example; if you find yourself as a larger, taller build gentleman and you are not too sure about how far you go with colour, keep to slightly darker tones and subtle fabric patterns. A smaller, leaner gentleman may consider playing with lighter shades, colour and bolder fabric patterns, however, this is a vice-versa scenario as this all comes down to personal style.

As one of the most important days of the Spring racing calendar, Derby Day is an excellent example of classic elegance meets tradition as all racegoers are required to don their best black and white ensembles, making it the most sophisticated and adhered to dress code of the Carnival. I strongly advise to leave your colours behind for this one as busy patterns and prints can look jarring within this monochromatic palette on the track. Alternatively, selections among monochrome combinations of slate greys, silvers, freshness of white and the sharpness of black looks tie in perfectly, allowing the details of your outfit to do the talking. This is especially important for men entering the competitive Myer Fashions on the Field competition.

When it comes to history and horse racing, it is hard to go past the prestigious event that is, the Melbourne Cup. Easily the biggest day of them all, as food, fashion and horse racing collide to formulate a must-see event. Cup Day is a no rule day (relating to fashion that is), allowing richness in colour, boldness in textures and sartorial strength through styling and pattern. It is a day to put your fashion foot forward, injecting colour into your outfit. Think bold patterns, mid pastel colourings, embellishments within detailing. Embrace variations of checks and stripes, while ensuring the styling and fit is tapered to your silhouette. Linen and cotton will feature heavily the season, with colours such as sandy bones, bottled greens, pomegranate reds, oceanic navies and sky blues dominating the scene. Convertible shoe options that allow you to transition from day to night are a great addition to your arsenal as you venture from trackside to after parties. The double-breasted suit is always a great look and is slowly becoming a major player as the seasons evolve, which enables the modern gentlemen to be that little more adventurous and creative with their attire and accessories.

Oaks Day, also known as ‘Ladies Day’, allows men to express their own signature style, embracing the quintessential femininity that the day adheres to. If you’re unsure of where to start, look for a great shirt and tie combination and build your outfit from there. One of the hardest parts of piecing together an outfit can sometimes be picking the right combination. Do not be afraid to wear colour! Think softer pastel and hushed hue colourings that embody masculinity such as deep pinks, lilac, pewter grey and ivory whites. While planning your outfit, always keep in mind that for Oaks Day you want to appear stylish with a hint of femininity, keeping true to your individual personality. Accessories are a must! Lapel pins, tie bars, bracelets, watches, hats and shoes are among some of the accessories that will make all the difference this season. Pocket squares are always a must as it is a great way to add additional colour and texture to any outfit.

Known as ‘Family Day’, Stakes Day is the less formal day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, however, it doesn’t allow one to lower their guard in the fashion department. When approaching your attire for Stakes Day, think contemporary classic, with tailored styling. Plain block colours often have a great ability to break through the pack, keeping your look modern and uncomplicated for a refined finish. Find a balanced look that appears classic yet allows you to transition between relaxed and comfortable, which will be the key to your confidence. Mix up your look with sophisticated separates, adding a little youthful fun to your outfit.

Above all else, raceday outfits should always exude elegance! No matter which colour and style you choose, be sure to pick an outfit that enhances and doesn’t not hinder your look and complexion. Lastly, people always say no one looks at your shoes – that is a lie. The wrong shoe choice can potentially make or break your outfit, so be sure to choose wisely!