Although the day usually ends with heels off, hats abandoned and hair down, Melbourne Cup goers – especially those in the exclusive Birdcage – start off as some of the most stylish people in Australia.
In the spirit of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the dress code is typically bright and festive – with a focus on statement headpieces and silhouettes that pay tribute to bygone eras like the 40s and 50s.
This year, jewel tones like yellow, blue and green dominated.
However, red was overwhelmingly the order of the day, as worn by Jennifer Hawkins, The Bachelor‘s Anna Heinrich, reporter Mel McLaughlin, Lindy Klim, swimmer Bronte Campbell and Bec Hewitt.
Of course, so much sartorial energy focussed in one place is bound to return some shockers.
To be fair, they all tried. Some of them just failed.
Here are our picks for best and worst dressed at Flemington.
Jennifer Hawkins: Look, we’ll be honest, it’s very hard to figure out whether it’s the outfit or the person wearing it when it comes to the former Miss Universe’s style.
On anyone else, this red Misha Collection jumpsuit with matching hat and shoes might have been too much. On Jen, it was a showstopper.
Cate and Bronte Campbell: Despite looking very Christmas-y in their green and red combo, the Olympic sister duo looked elegant, sophisticated and race-day ready in their figure-hugging frocks.
Cate told The New Daily she had ummed and ahhed over her green dress from pricey Aussie brand Scanlan and Theodore before taking the plunge. “I’ll wear it to every event and the cost per wear will go down – in 20 years,” she joked.
Jodi Anasta: In a full-on girly gown from Roksanda Ilincic, this Neighbours star looked feminine and gorgeous. Anasta told The New Daily she has to wear bright colours because lighter colours wash her out, “and then you have to layer on the fake tan, which is not a good look”.
Her stunning, laidback millinery – a loose, oversized ribbon tied in a bow in her ponytail – completed an outfit that was completely unique. After all, at what other occasion is it acceptable to wear head-to-toe pink?
Michelle Payne: Ladies and gentleman,we present the Queen of Flemington. As if Michelle Payne’s swift and stunning career rise wasn’t impressive enough, she also managed to wow the Birdcage crowds with her pale pink, caped dress and floral crown.
Kudos to Payne for changing out of her finery to hit the track for two races before changing back again to party on.
Bec Hewitt: This former soap star and wife of Lleyton Hewitt hasn’t always topped best-dressed lists, but her Cup-day effort was nothing short of breathtaking. Hewitt’s eye-catching floral two-piece, from Australian brand Cristahlea, was just the right amount of drama.
The draped jacket and subtle headpiece kept it from being over-the-top and the mix of red and pink with jewelled accents was perfect for the occasion.
Gina Rinehart: In her defence, the mining magnate never claimed to be a style icon. However, it’s not hard to get racewear right – when in doubt, simple is best.
Rinehart could have removed at least two of her many accessories – a pearl necklace, pearl earring, a huge netted hat, a fur-trimmed jacket and a feathered bag – and it would have made a vast improvement.
Lindy Klim: Although we understand the concept – and applaud Klim for trying something different – there was something slightly off about this Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band tribute.
Perhaps it was the strange cluster of buttons at the top, or the glitzy belt, or maybe the lacklustre headpiece, but something took this from being a clever nod to British music gods to a bizarre rip-off of the beefeater guards at Buckingham Palace.
Natalie Bassingthwaighte: While the former Rogue Traders frontwoman usually gets it right, this graphic jumpsuit completely swamped her tiny frame and the print gave us a headache.
Perhaps with a softer headpiece the effect of the fabric would have been lessened, but Bassingthwaighte’s severe leather fascinator only severed to amplify it.
Kate Waterhouse: As racing royalty, Waterhouse is well-versed in Cup Day style. While we love the colours of this Gucci number, it crossed the line from fabulous to frumpy with its frilled sleeves and mock tunic silhouette.
Elsa Pataky: The Spanish-born actress and wife of Chris Hemsworth was the top-billed celebrity attendee of the day, enjoying the festivities as a guest of the Emirates marquee.
Although the petite star is undoubtedly stunning, her fluoro dress swathed her svelte figure and distracted from her modern millinery.