Melbourne Cup Carnival fashion: What to wear while celebrating spring racing at home

When it comes to the Lexus Melbourne Cup Carnival, racewear fashion is just as much of a drawcard as the on-track action.

From Jane Shrimpton’s then-controversial miniskirt moment at the 1965 Melbourne Cup to more recent trackside looks from stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Miranda Kerr and Snoop Dogg, Flemington’s spring racing days provide celebs and plebs alike the perfect opportunity to get creative and showcase their fashionable flair.

While a ban on crowds will prevent racegoers descending on Flemington this year, the Melbourne Cup Carnival is still set to be the city’s first major event post-lockdown.

It is a chance for Melburnians to get back to doing what we love — being our stylish best and celebrating the events that make our state tick.

And though we won’t be able to admire standout looks in the Birdcage and Fashions on the Field, Victorians are being encouraged to bring the style and celebrations of Cup Week home.

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Model Crystal Kimber is dressed up for the Cup. Picture: Alex Coppel.Source:News Corp Australia

It would ordinarily be a busy time of year for leading stylist Elliot Gaurnut, who would be putting together racewear looks for his clients ahead of the spring carnival.

“It’s been a different kind of busy this year,” he said. “I don’t have clients attending the track, (but) I’m still involved trackside with the Victorian Racing Club and Channel Ten.”

The stylist is part of the carnival’s fashion judging panel, which will look a little different this year.

Fashions on the Field has become Myer Fashions on Your Front Lawn, which adds family-friendly “just for fun” categories to the high fashion, millinery and emerging designer contests.

“The talent so far has been incredible; people are really delivering above and beyond what I was expecting,” said Mr Gaurnut.

“I’m seeing so much colour, which is great because in a year that hasn’t been exactly colourful, it’s so inspiring to see people jumping head first and it’s putting a smile to my face.”

Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn judges Olivia Molly Rogers and Rob Mills with former Melbourne Cup winner Brew. Picture: Jason EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia

Melbourne milliner Kim Fletcher said it would not take much effort to get in the Cup Week fashion spirit — as long as you think outside the (hat) box.

“We’re a casual nation and there’s few events that provide the opportunity to dress up, but the racing carnival gives us the green light to go nuts with it, stand out and for that to be OK,” said Ms Fletcher.

So whether you are celebrating with members of the permitted one other household at home, or in a park with nine of your best mates, here’s what to wear on Derby Day, Melbourne Cup Day, Oaks Day and Stakes Day.


Distinguished by its strict black and white dress code, many consider Derby Day the chicest event on the spring racing calendar.

While the colour scheme – or lack thereof – might seem restrictive, it’s almost a given to have black and white clothing in our wardrobes, making it easier to emulate a Derby Day racing ensemble at home.

“As far as racewear is concerned, it’s very relaxed this year,” said Mr Gaurnut. “Instead of going all out, trade your heels for a beautiful pair of sandles or flats, trade a structured dress for a beautiful garden dress or day dress. For the guys, ditch the blazer, ditch the tie, maybe an open shit or even a polo or something with a collar that makes you feel a little more elevated as well as chinos or even shorts, something that’s a little more summery and relaxed.”

Fashions on Your Front Lawn entrant Emma in an all-black ensemble that would be a perfect for Derby Day.Source:Supplied


It might feature the race that stops the nation, but showstopping looks are also paramount on Melbourne Cup Day.

Traditionally, the day is all about having fun with racewear; think bold, bright colours, interesting fabrics and inventive, on-trend headpieces.

“Melbourne Cup is the most inclusive event that we have, embracing everyone,” said Ms Fletcher, who is part of the judging panel for Fashions on Your Front Lawn.

“The idea is we want people to get creative, even incorporating items from around the house.

“It’s surprisingly easy to concoct something; all you need is a base, such as headband, that you can build upon. I’ve even made headwear out of takeaway containers before.”

“If you’re at home, shoes are honestly optional. But I’d treat it as if you’re going to a smart barbecue.”

Fashions on Your Front Lawn contestant Kelly, from Victoria.Source:Supplied

Fashions on Your Front Lawn entrant Chloe, from Queensland.Source:Supplied

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Also known as Ladies Day, Oaks Day racegoers typically embrace the feminine dress code by wearing floral and pink designs.

While the atmosphere at the racecourse will be missed this year, fashionistas can still into the Oaks Day spirit, even if it involves simply swapping your grey trackies for a fancier, pink variety.

Oaks Day is tailor-made for flowy, feminine frocks like this one worn by Myer Fashions on Your Front Lawn entrant Carle from Victoria.Source:Supplied


With the “Family Day” theme of the event in mind, Stakes Day has the most relaxed dress code within the racing carnival.

“I’ve said this year that trends are out the window. The year’s been hard enough as it is,” said Mr Gaurnut.

“As long as what you’re wearing makes you happy and makes you feel good, that’s what fashion is primarily all about; self-expression and feeling like the best, most confident version of yourself. That’s what I’m really looking for, confidence.”

But that’s not to say you should forgo headwear.

“If you don’t wear something in your hair, you miss out on something because that’s what transforms ensembles into racewear. It doesn’t have to be a full on hat, even a bow or clip can work,” said Ms Fletcher.

“The idea is we want people to get creative at home, so why not make a DIY headpiece with items from around the house.

“It’s surprisingly easy to concoct something; all you need is a base, such as headband, that you can build upon. I’ve even made headwear out of takeaway containers before.”


The new Fashions on Your Front Lawn contest features both the traditional racewear competitions and new “Just for Fun” categories.

The men’s and women’s racewear, millinery and emerging designer categories have already closed to entries, but the Just for Fun contest will run all week of the carnival.

Just for Fun categories are:

Cup Week Costumes: Let your imagination run wild with fancy dress or your most elaborate racing-inspired look.

Family Ties: Get the whole family, including pets, to put their best-dressed foot forward.

Lounge in Style: For those who are ready to take off the trackies and put on something fit for a chic garden party.

Mad Hatters: Have some DIY fun with headwear made at home.

Entries will be judged by a panel including Fashions on Your Front Lawn ambassadors Rob Mills and Olivia Molly Rogers, Myer ambassador Kris Smith and trainer Gai Waterhouse.

Fashions on Your Front Lawn Just for Fun winners will be announced on Stakes Day on Saturday, November 7.

To enter, upload a photo to Instagram, tagging @FlemingtonVRC #cupweekfashion plus the relevant category hashtag.

Just For Fun entries open on AAMI Victoria Derby Day, Saturday 31st October, at 9am and close on Kennedy Oaks Day, Thursday, November 5, at 11.59pm.





Originally published asHow to dress for the Melbourne Cup at home

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