Our guide to the best spring racing fashion

The Spring racing season is upon us, as is a veritable assault of race wear options – good, bad and dubious.

The races used to produce some real fashion horrors, but overall, the punters seemed to have really stepped it up in the style stakes.

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In the past, a lot of young women thought race wear meant tiny bandage dresses, a $15 fascinator and bricks strapped to their feet masquerading as Louboutins, but there has been a noticeable swing towards more discreetly feminine dress choices.

Melbourne designer Toni Maticevski played a big role in leading this charge, judging by the popularity of his gorgeous, longer length dresses that have an elegant whiff of Parisian l’air du temps about them as opposed to eau de fake tan.

There are some very pretty full-skirted dresses on offer this season at all price points, but you don’t necessarily have to go full Mad Men on them.

If you are opting for a fifties silhouette in a dress, skip the vintage style hat, cat-eye glasses and stiletto pumps to prevent the look from being too literal.

Full skirts will look more fresh and on trend with strappy wedges or sandals and a delicate headband or flower pinned in the hair. There are a lot of beautiful florals, stripes and spots in the stores which are infinitely preferable to one of those lurid blurred digital prints that are beginning to look a tad tired.


Colour blocking is chic too. Think about wearing a dress in one colour, and then accessorize it with different, unexpected colours for the bag and shoes (such as putting a pink shoe back with a yellow dress, or green with purple).

Maybe it’s time for a floral shoe, beautiful with a plain or patterned dress. Things don’t always have to match. Oftentimes they are better when they clash, like stripes with florals.

There are a lot of seventies styles around including flared skirts and denim dresses. Could these work for the races?

I think so, but they would need to be glamourized, perhaps with Mary Jane pumps, or a pair of the new look, chunkier heeled sling backs, a silk scarf knotted at the throat, cool sunglasses, a shoulder bag and a great felt hat.

Flat brogues are also a thought. Imagine how great they’d feel when you make a dash for the car park at 4pm after six hundred champagnes.

Race wear is a huge retail driver and never have we had such an array of hats and headpieces to choose from. At a recent shoot for Myer, we were all fawning over the selection of chic, decorated headbands, adorned with gilded gold laurel leaves or black silk roses and feathers, so subtle and easy to wear.

Another gorgeous option, especially for Derby Day is a white lace dress (crisp not stretchy).


Black can be introduced as an accessory (Derby is traditionally black and white for the women), either as a belt, a hat or clutch bag. Our stylist went one step further and added a black sheer spotted ankle sock worn with high heels, but we might leave that for the real fashionistas. With the appropriate ankles.

Men have definitely moved on from that Flemington uniform of an ill-fitting black suit spilling over a bad shoe, excessive hair gel, Oakley glasses on a cord and a tinnie.

The men are now often the best dressed on the day. The trend towards the average guy at the races now being decked out in a slim-fitting suit, a crisp coloured shirt, and elegant shoes worn without socks, European style, means you might just be inclined to strike up a conversation with him rather than call security.


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