Melbourne Cup Carnival: What To Wear

Melbourne Cup Carnival fashion guide across the four big days

Fashion has always been an integral part of horse racing. It's a chance for people to dress up in their finest. A chance to showcase yourself to the world.

Watch Video: 100 Years Of Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashion

Penfolds Victoria Derby Day: Black and White Day fashion.

The first day of the Carnival, Derby Day is known for its strict black and white dress code. The outfit that you choose for the day must follow the monochromatic rule. This is the classiest of the Carnival days.

“Derby Day is black and white, so you want to be wearing either black or white. You don’t want to be wearing any colour on Derby Day. It’s all about being classy at the races,” according to fashionista Nadia Bartel.

You may go with a dress that features both colours or you may choose to go with an all-white dress or an all-black dress, with your accessories the opposite colour to give it some pop and make a statement. Fascinators on this day are usually more subdued. Boaters and veils are also popular choices.

To make yourself stand out from the crowd consider a dress with good detailing, a textured fabric or a distinctive silhouette. Think classic lines and quality fabrics. The day is all about being elegant.

“I think it’s a really good time to wear outfits that represent empowered women and strong women,” said Nicole Trunfio, supermodel and businesswoman, after she stunned in her white suit at the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Men should also strictly adhere to the monochromatic colour scheme, although they can usually add some greys in as well.

Lexus Melbourne Cup Day: The Glamour Day

The big day is all about being glamourous. Colour, head-turning outfits and fantastic fascinators. The Lexus Melbourne Cup is the biggest race day in Australia and one the most prestigious racing events in the world. Make sure you dress to impress.

Be creative and bold. This is the day to shine and stop the nation with your look. There will be many fabulous dresses and fascinators, you need to stand out from all the others. When it comes to fascinators, it's best to follow the rule of three – base, plus feathers or flowers, plus one other flourish.

Have fun with your outfit but always keep in mind the VRC’s dress codes.

The VRC rules for men across all days of the Carnival is that they are required to wear a suit of tailored slacks (tailored chinos are acceptable), sports coat or blazer, plus tie and dress shoes. For the ladies, the VRC’s requirements are they are expected to maintain a suitable standard of racewear attire. Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal national dress of their country. All racegoers are to dress comfortably, as stylish as suits your individual tastes, and in a way that lets you express your own sense of style.

Celebrity stylist Lana Wilkinson’s tip is “It’s all about feeling confident and feeling great within yourself. Own who you are and what you’re wearing.”

Men, don’t just grab your business suit or the one you wear to weddings. Look at a linen or wool-linen suit. You still want to look good, but it is a long day at the racecourse, so you want to be comfortable as well. Go with lighter colours. Think about separates to break it up. Be brave in your choice of shirt.

Kennedy Oaks Day: Ladies Fashion Day

The day after The Race That Stops A Nation is Oaks Day, aka ‘Ladies Day’.

Traditionally the fashion of this day is all about colour, especially pastels and florals.

“We really see people’s true sense of style. I think it’s all about the pretty vibes. It’s all about pastels and soft hues. People can experiment and have fun. Really have fun with your style,” says celebrity stylist Lana Wilkinson.

A day to look beautiful and feminine, in your own unique style. Show your personality with your favourite colour and silhouette. Look at more delicate fabrics for the dress of your choice. When it comes to colours, pastels and muted hues are what to look for. With floral dresses, keep it modern.

For headwear opt for a floral headpiece, bejewelled headband or a bow. With your shoes and clutch, consider a neutral tone. Makeup should be simple and fresh.

When it comes to shoes across the whole carnival, the number one thing to remember is wear them in beforehand. They are long days with a lot of hours spent on your feet. You need to comfortable.

For the men, think about a grey suit and go for a softer tone for your shirt. Your tie can be your statement piece today.

TAB Champions Stakes Day: Family Fashion Day

Stakes Day, the fourth and final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, is the most relaxed day of the carnival when it comes to fashion. It’s all about fun and embracing Spring. It’s also known as Family Day.

On this relaxed day always keep in mind the VRC rules but find a balance between traditional and youthful fun. There is no need to go overboard with embellishments.

Free-flowing dresses and loose tailoring is order of the day. Unstructured dresses with a softer silhouette are good choices. Straw hats in fedora and wide brimmed styles and boaters will add to this look.

For shoes, think wedges or chic flats. Even with the relaxed nature of the day, sneakers are still a no-no.

And if you have a family, it’s a great opportunity to coordinate your attire so you can all look stylish together.

There is no need to be too serious with your fashion choices. Think young, carefree and fun. Inject your own personality into your ensemble.

Men should go with an alternative look, think a navy jacket and tan/cream pants.

Fashion Extras

Head to the 10 Play Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashion Hub for more fashion features,  tips and inspiration.