The Style Stakes by Fashion Stylist Esma Versace

Spring racing is underway and we’re racing towards the biggest day in Australia’s fashion calendar, Melbourne Cup.  If your fashion-heart is set on winning Fashions on the Field, either at the track or at one of the many fabulous Melbourne Cup events listed on the CharityDos website, then there are a few style tips you need to know to be race-day appropriate.

Did you know that Fashions on the Field started 52 years ago as a way to engage women in the biggest day on the racing calendar?  Did you also know that last year Australian women spent over $50 million on fashion and beauty*.

With so much of our hard-earned money being invested on one, or all of the Spring racing events, understanding what is ‘race day appropriate’ is crucial if you want to be a fashion-star and shine on the track this year.

Here are some stylist tips for how to dress for Spring racing and for style-inspiration I have included images of the beautiful Kate Waterhouse.  As a member of Australia’s ‘first family of racing’, Kate understands perfectly how to dress for the races and gets it right every single time.

  • There are three simple words to consider when planning of your race day outfit.  Elegant, feminine, refined.  It’s not an evening event so sexy or revealing clothes is inappropriate.


  • Start with your dress or outfit.  It’s so much easier to choose your hat and accessories once your choose your look and it also helps pre-plan your beauty and hairstyle looks.  A classic, fitted style is the most appropriate and the best length for your dress is to sit on or slightly above the knee.MC-14-3
  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator is a MUST.  Non-negotiable.  When choosing headwear avoid anything too high and too large which is uncomfortable and hard to wear.  If you do have a ‘statement-making’ hat then keep the rest of your outfit simple.MC-14-4
  • Co-ordinate a detail of your frock into your hat – if you dress features a particular colour or design then perhaps feature this in your hat.
  • When choosing your accessories, using the KISS rule is a safe option and avoids the ‘too much bling’ look.  If your dress is one-colour or simple in style, opt for a statement-making item such as a embellished or jewelled bag.MC-14-5
  • Choose a shoe that will last the day; standing all day in uncomfortable heels is not practical or attractive.  Avoid a too-high stiletto and choose an elegant pump or peep-toe instead.
  • If you have chosen a print, floral or multi-coloured dress, a nude shoe is best.  Choose the nude colour depending on your skin-tone ranging from pale beige, pink or blush to caramel tones. MC-14-6
  • A clutch is THE best option for race day in a size that is big enough to carry a few essentials.  That said, a bag with a strap can be useful on race day when you’re juggling the race guide, champagne and delicious canapés.MC-14-7
  • Race day hairstyles:  Of course your hairstyle will depend on the style, shape and size of your hat or headpiece, however the unbreakable rule of thumb is to be elegant.  If your hat is high and wide, your hairstyle can be fuller and wider, a smaller headpiece leans towards a paired-back style such as a chignon.MC-14-8
  • Race day beauty:  A dewy or fresh spring glow is the best makeup look.  Complement one colour of your makeup, e .g. lipstick, with your outfit.  If you’re wearing a large or wide-brimmed hat, focus on your lips or conversely if you are wearing a smaller headpiece, add a little subtle drama to your eyes.MC-14-9
  • A beautiful golden glow will always enhance race-day style.
  • Lastly, choose appropriate underwear in a nude/skintone colour.  Spanx are a girl’s best friend on race day and please avoid the ‘horrors’ – visible panty line, visible bra straps and fluoro g-strings.

2014 Summer Trends

To assist in the selection of your race day outfit, look to summer’s biggest trends:

  • Pretty florals, ruffles, fine lace and layering are perfect styles for this year’s Spring racing carnival.
  • A hint of soft and sheer paneling is appropriate for race wear.
  • Embellishments return this summer and also appropriate for race day but in subtle forms.  Subtly beaded or embellished clutches make for the perfect race day accessory.
  • For a modern look, opt for layering or asymmetrical hemlines.
  • Pretty summer pastels of pink, violet, mint and lemon is a feminine choice.
  • Conversely bright colours, florals and prints would also make for great race day style.
  • The shoe of the season is the ankle strap and an elegant choice for race day.





Login to post comments
Back to top