Spring has certainly sprung and just like that we’re off and racing. While this week has seen controversy surrounding the integrity of the Spring Racing Carnival, we’re only here to comment on the fashion and show you how to let your outfit do the talking.

Spring Racing fashion can be confusing. There are however standard rules that apply across the different days, some being more strict than others. If there’s one thing to remember above all it’s this: if your grandma wouldn’t approve, you probably shouldn’t wear it.


> Absolutely no denim. Jeans and denim jackets are an obvious no-no. However, this rule also applies to denim skirts and dresses, regardless of colour.
> No bare midriffs. This rule also includes dresses with cut-outs, which can be a challenge considering we’re seeing a lot of this style creeping into Spring/Summer collections.
> Pants must be tailored. Avoid any leggings or leather pants.
> No shorts. Not even when matched to a blazer.
> No rips in clothing, even if they are intentional rips.
> No playsuits or short jumpsuits, although this may only be strictly enforced in members’ areas.
> No casual jackets (This includes your Kathmandu puffer coat, so you might want to invest in a formal jacket).
> No sneakers, thongs, gumboots or other casual shoes. While flat shoes are generally fine, most women wear heels. If you’re not normally a heel-wearing type, go for a thick-heeled shoe. Walking on grass all day can be challenging in stilettos!
> Traditionally, all women are supposed to wear a hat or headpiece.


Date: Saturday, November 2nd, 2019


The first official day of the Spring Racing Carnival is also the most clear cut when it comes to the dress code. Derby Day is supposed to exclusively feature black and white fashion. Whether that be all black, all white or a combination of both is up to you. Sticking to one colour is your best bet, as sometimes black and white prints done incorrectly can make you look like a human optical illusion.


Derby Day is a comparatively more paired back event when it comes to accessories. While accessories and headwear are necessary, these should be kept classic and simple. Your favourite Lack of Colour hat or headband will work perfectly. Save your wild fascinator for another day.


Just like the ladies, men should dress monochromatically for Derby Day. While most men will dress in black suits and white shirts, you can still input some individuality into your outfit if you are so inclined. Try a white suit, or a black blazer and white pant combo. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, look towards a check or houndstooth suit. Consider playing with different textures and fabrics.

The official flower of Derby Day is the cornflower. This blue flower pairs well with a monochromatic outfit.


Date: Tuesday, November 5th 2019


Cup Day is the BIG event, and that’s true for the fashion too. This is the day to go all out. Bring your biggest fascinator and your brightest print. Just make sure they match.

While there is no ‘official’ rule about not wearing black, Cup Day is about stepping out of your comfort zone. Melbournians, we’re looking at you; put the LBD down.


On Cup Day headwear is essential, and if you enjoy wearing a fascinator this is the day to do it. Trends in millinery this year are gravitating more towards ’40s and ’60s inspired headpieces that sit tight and low to the head. Check out your local vintage store for a unique piece; an option that’s not only better for the environment but almost guarantees you won’t be matching someone else.

If you’re not a fan of fascinators or prefer to invest in something you can wear more than one day a year, hats and headbands are still appropriate.  Cup Day, in general, is the ‘do what you want’ type of day.


Melbourne Cup is known for bright, vivid and even sometimes garish colours. If you enjoy putting on a show, this is the day to do so. A beige suit or tailored chino and sports jacket can offer a classic but stylish look. Rust colours and powder blue suits are also on trend this year. These colours pair well against all skin tones. While if you prefer not to stand out, a simple navy blue suit and white shirt combo is a safe bet. If you prefer to stick to a traditional black suit try adding a coloured shirt or patterned tie.

The flower for Melbourne Cup Day is the yellow rose, perfectly complimenting a light-toned suit.


Date: Thursday, November 7th, 2019


Oaks Day is also known as Ladies’ Day, and as you would expect from an event called ‘Ladies’ Day’ the theme celebrates femininity. Think pastel tones, florals and fabrics that flow.

If pastels aren’t your thing, try interpreting ‘feminine’ in a different way. Go for a tonal, tailored suit and just ensure the fit is right.


Oaks Day offers a unique chance for the boys to step away from traditional gender norms for the day and experiment with a more feminine pallet. Obvious choices are pastel colours like pinks or blues. However, even experimenting with feminine textures or materials can be a fun interpretation. For inspiration, Harry Styles is a great example of androgynous suit dressing.

The official flower for Oaks is a pink rose.


Date: Saturday, November 9th 2019


The last day of the Spring Racing Carnival is Stakes Day. Also known as ‘Family Day’, Stakes Day is the most relaxed day of the carnival. Unlike Melbourne Cup or Derby, you’re encouraged to take it down a notch.

This can be achieved through fabric and fit. Think relaxed linen dresses or floating maxis.


To continue the relaxed vibe, consider a straw hat or simple ribbon. Wedges or espadrilles are also a must, particularly if you have any little people that you may need to run after on the day.

We’ll leave you with one final tip: if heels aren’t your friend, pack a pair of flats to change into at the end of the day (you can buy some inconspicuous pairs here). Under no circumstances should you end up barefoot at the end of the day; don’t be that person who ends up on the 5pm news.


Stakes Day comes as a refreshing reprieve from the strict dressing that characterises the earlier days in the carnival. ‘Family day’ allows for more relaxed and comfortable attire. Think linen suits or chino and jacket combos. Keep your accessories minimal and consider swapping out dress shoes for boat shoes.

The official flower for Stakes is a red rose.

If you’re interested in a career in styling, check out our courses here.

Written by Bronte McCallum.