It’s the weekend before Melbourne Cup, and although I have no actual plans for the day, it still occurred to me that I should have an outfit ready, just in case.
I noticed a few race-wear articles this week which were recommending the usual; colour, print, sundresses etc. which reminded me of Meryl Streep’s dry response in The Devil Wears Prada “Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking.”
One factor no one ever mentions is the unpredictable weather. I recall more than a few Derby and Cup days at Flemington as Vogue editor when I was filmed smiling brightly into the TV cameras and saying: “Doesn’t everyone look wonderful!” while being lashed by horizontal rain and 40kmh winds.
On one trip when I was there for the full week, from Derby Day to Oaks Day, I packed three summer dresses, a wool pantsuit, a winter coat, a swimsuit and a short fur jacket. The reports are saying 19 degrees and rain for Melbourne next Tuesday, so my useful tips are a lightweight summer trench in white, a pretty pastel or FLORAL (naturally), ankle boots to avoid mud in your Jimmy Choos … and a sou’wester.
Brisbane is predicted to be 33 and sunny, so the lightest dress you can find, a wide-brimmed hat and strappy sandals are on the cards. That kind of heat is difficult for men, especially if they are in a jacket-required environment, but if some of us women have to wear Spanx and high heels, then hey, you can cope.
Sydney is pulling out what it does best and most consistently, which is a disgusting 32 degrees and cloudy, along with 2000 per cent humidity. The most suitable dress code for this type of weather is nothing, bar a battery-operated fan. Don’t worry about a trip to the hairdresser: your naturally curly hair will be a ball of frizz before the end of race one.
Every fibre on earth, from cotton to linen, to 100 per cent stretch-acrylic will stick to your skin. Your makeup will slide off after your first Yellowglen. This weather calls for great preparedness. Opt for dresses that are sleeveless or strappy (I fear I’ve lost 80 per cent of women already with that comment), or choose very light silk dresses that are more floaty than constrictive. Overly large hats can be tricky in high heat, but pulling hair off the face and wearing a small headpiece, or headband will keep you feeling cool.
The expected dress code does make me feel sorry for men – a statement I would very rarely make in normal conversation. Suits and ties are such a brilliant fashion statement, every man on earth can look amazing in an expensive suit (except Donald Trump), but wool-blend suits in 33 degrees and high humidity are torture, no matter how jaunty your pocket square is.
Which opens up a potential fashion debate – will we one day see shorts and blazers for men in the members enclosure? Or more to the point – do we want to?