Entertainment Style The many fashion atrocities of the Spring Racing Carnival

The many fashion atrocities of the Spring Racing Carnival

spring racing style
Even celebrities like Bec Judd, Kris Smith and Jennifer Hawkins have missed the mark in the past. Photo: Getty
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I’ve been writing about racewear for more years than I care to remember but one thing I have to say is gee, we’ve come a long way.

When I began to attend the races in the ’80s and ’90s, it was, on the whole, a sartorial disaster.

Sure, there were some nice suits and tidy coat-dresses worn with stockings in the members’ club, but outside of that all bets were off.

It was more like fancy dress, with silly outfits, ugly handmade hats and Oakley sunglasses on a cord worn with Dad’s old suit and too much hair gel.

Catriona Rowntree
Fashion designer Peter Jago and Getaway host Catriona Rowntree at the Melbourne Cup back in 2008. Photo: Getty

Some of that still exists but most people, and especially the men, have taken note of changing trends and are dressing with aplomb.

The slim silhouette that has been dominant in menswear for a few years now really sharpened up how men view and wear suits.

You see far less trousers pooling over the shoes, cheap shoes or baggy oversized jackets a la Donald Trump (he manages to make a very expensive Brioni suit look like he bought it at Lowes).

It’s all whip-thin jackets and ankle-grazing stove pipes, worn with coloured shirts and waistcoats.

In fact, the men who get it right at the races are probably the best dressed men in Australia, full stop.

The hipster aesthetic also lends itself very well to the racetrack – a man in a three-piece suit, hand-tooled leather shoes, a flat cap and a beard and you’ve got Peaky Blinders, Ascot, 1916.

Cup Day
What Cup Day style looked like in 2005. Photo: Getty

I feel as if men transitioned into snazzy racewear more easily, because the look is basically defined by a suit, and suiting got better.

High street chains such as Topman arrived, providing very good tailored suit options for $200, so the repurposed office suit or the borrowed jacket that didn’t match the trousers became a thing of the past.

Women probably thought they were getting it right all along, but I would politely disagree.

mens racewear
Men have improved in leaps and bounds when it comes to racewear. Photo: Getty

It took years just to get the message out that on Derby Day it is traditional to wear black and white.

That long dresses and feather boas were for another occasion, not the races (I don’t know which occasion exactly to be honest. A Club Med cabaret night?).

That a fascinator, a strapless patio dress and black opaque tights are an odd choice, especially when you are found later passed out and sunburnt in a hedge.

spring racing
Short dresses and hot pink ties should probably be avoided on race days. Photo: Getty

Then we had to move through the tiny spray-on bandage dress with the boobs out, a fake tan, a huge hat and shoes too high to walk in, which resulted in an even more unfortunate hedge sighting and a lot of happy guys in the aforementioned Oakley sunglasses.

Keep your hemline at a moderate length, your heels a manageable height and your prints subtle to avoid standing out from the crowd for the wrong reasons. Photo: Getty
Keep your hemline at a moderate length, your heels a manageable height and your prints subtle to avoid standing out from the crowd for the wrong reasons. Photo: Getty

Now we’re safe. I was in the Myer marquee this year at Randwick and I was actually astounded at how chic all the women looked.

There was a lot of black and white, mostly seen in lace dresses, that were knee length or longer and beautiful floral print dresses, either sundresses or flowy, mid-calf tea dresses.

Men’s and women’s racewear done right. Photo: Getty

I also spotted black wide-leg trousers worn with backless tops and large brimmed hats that had a slight Yves Saint Laurent aura, plus pretty sandals and wedges at sensible heel heights.

Hats have also made way for the new and very welcome trend of jewelled and decorated headbands which are so flattering and easy to wear at any age.

anna heinrich
Headbands are the way to go this year, as worn at Randwick by The Bachelor winner Anna Heinrich (pictured). Photo: Getty

I’m just going put it out there now, no flower crowns if you’re over 25 years old please. This is not Coachella. Buy the headband instead and pull your hair back into a chignon.

Add a pair of jewelled earrings and you are Dolce and Gabbana-level gorgeous and ready to win.

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