When spring racing carnival hits Melbourne its debatable which gets more attention: the races themselves, or the fashions that go on display trackside. It’s hard not to get swept away in the racing fever of hats and heels and horses – and when you do, you’ll want to know what to wear to truly stand out.

So here are our tips for both guys and girls of how to make an on-trend statement while you’re fervently waving that race card in the air and cheering on your equine bet.

spring racing carnival fashion tips

First written for the Melbourne Racing Club website, here are a few key pointers for spring racing fashion this year;

Race wear for men

  • Most males around the racetrack fit into one of two categories: too dull and business like, or vibrantly over the top. The key this season is to find a balance.
  • That means quality is key. While quality doesn’t have to equate to a huge price tag, do look for pieces that are well made and well fitted. Also remember that, no matter how minor the adjustments, a men’s suit should always be altered to fit you properly.
  • Either your suit or your accessories should be your statement – not both. For spring suiting try light block colours with a linen, cotton, or super wool 120 cloth. Pinstripes visually lengthen, so consider them if you’re less than 6 foot tall. An effortless summer take on next year’s relaxed tailoring trend will also stand out for the right reasons.
  • For colours, greys and blues are the go. All shades of blue are on trend but avoid navy as it’s a staple and too common.
  • If your suit is plain in colour style it up with some statement accessories: the peek of a colourful pocket handkerchief, a flower pinned to your lapel, or a strongly masculine fedora that’s less indie rocker and more Don Draper are all smart options this year.

Race wear for women

  • Shunning the dress and slipping into a pant suit might just be the sexiest, most stand-out thing a girl can do this season. It must be well tailored and nothing too corporate. A wide-leg pant and relaxed blazer ooze 1930s allure, or go for a slim pant with a flared leg and heels for a kick of 70s glamour.
  • For dresses look out for styles that are either ultra-modern and minimal, or vintage-inspired from the 60s and 70s. Channeling Jean Shrimpton couldn’t be more fitting for the race season.
  • Accessories: forget the feathered fascinator, unless it’s a truly amazing take. The wide brimmed fedora is a definite winner in 2011, so is a neat straw boater. A masculine hat style is perfect for a tailored outfit. Fresh flowers – especially crisp, brightly coloured orchids or tangles of wildflowers – are also in the spirit of the moment. They can be woven into headpieces or worn directly in the hair.
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