According to celebrity stylist Rose McKay who dresses the likes of Derby Day queen Jesinta Campbell you should think elegant day or evening dress.
“Your outfit should also adhere to the dress code of the particular race meet you are attending,” says Rosie.
“Remember you are not going to nightclub so you want to refrain from wearing anything too short or overtly sexy. Hemlines are best kept no shorter than just above the knee and avoid anything to glitzy. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your look, just make sure to keep it classy,” she adds.
A list of what to wear
Rosie suggests a day or evening dress, chic skirt or pant suit, or elegant skirt/pant and top ensemble.
Millinery – hat, fascinator or appropriate hair accessories
Shoes you can walk in – a mid-height stiletto or block heel works best
Small bag – big enough to fit your phone and bare essentials
Jewellery that complements your outfit but doesn’t compete with your headpiece
Dress codes for different events
The major events all have their own dress codes. Rosie suggests you follow these general style rules for a winning look this Spring Racing Season
The black and white dress code lends itself to a classic, monochrome look. “You could also go for all-over white or all-over black. Given the limited colour palette, the details matter so look for dresses with interesting design details or standout fabrications. Headwear should be unfussy and sleek,” advises Rosie.
Melbourne Cup Day
Known for being the race that stops a nation, Melbourne Cup Day is undoubtedly the biggest day on the race calendar, and as such you can have permission to amp up your race day outfit and be a bit more creative.
“Don’t be afraid to embrace colour – bold block colours are best, think yellow, emerald, red, pink, blue or purple. Keep silhouettes simple and embrace interesting design details like a statement sleeve, ruffled hem or subtle cut-out details. Headwear should also be bolder and more sculptural,” Rosie says.
Crown Oaks Day
Also known as “ladies day”, the style order for this meet is all about keeping your look beautifully feminine. “Luxe fabrics like silk, satin, lace and chiffon are best suited for this day and when it comes to colour a soft colour palette of pastels and muted tones work best. You could also wear florals to this event, just ensure they are toned down rather than too big and bold,” recommends Rosie.
Emirates Stakes Day
The least formal of all the meets and also known as “family day” the dress code is a little more relaxed and no real hard and fast rules. “You still want to look dressed up, but in a more relaxed way, so fun prints and unstructured silhouettes are all perfect options. You can choose to wear a dress, separates or even a jumpsuit. Headwear is also less formal – think a straw hat or simple hair slide,” says Rosie.
Rosie’s recommended dress styles
The pretty lace dress
Suggested clothing retailers
Scanlan & Theodore
Camilla & Marc
Rosie McKay is a Sydney-based stylist and founder of My Virtual Stylist, a personal styling platform that offers a range of digital styling and personal shopping services including styling for events and special occasions.