The Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide

The Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide

Here, racing royalty and fashion commentator, Kate Waterhouse, reveals the dos and don’ts of what to wear to the races. You’ll be the finest filly on the fashion field…

Have neigh idea about fashions on the field and race day wear? You’re not alone. “People often get confused with what to wear for the races,” says Sydney Spring Carnival ambassador Kate Waterhouse. “Often though, the different race days have themes to help. For example Derby Day has a black and white theme, Oak’s Day is about feminine looks, Colgate Optic White Stakes is white with a splash of red, and Moët & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes Day has a gold theme.” Not your colour palette? That’s ok. There are plenty of other options to get you off and racing in style. Here, Kate shares her golden (slipper) tips and race-day fashion dos and don’t to ensure you’re outfit is a shoe-in.


Should you go to great lengths or style it by a nose?

Do: “Make sure your headpiece is an extension of your outfit and suits your face shape,” Kate advises. “Headpieces and hats are in fashion, so there’s loads of great options to choose from.”

Don’t: “Avoid headpieces that are heavy or bulky,” advises Kate. “You wouldn’t wear a big heavy coat in Spring, and likewise, you should choose lightweight headwear materials that are weather appropriate, like straw.”


Break-in shoes with training for the well-heeled occasion.

Do: “Make sure you are comfortable!” says Kate. “I love a high-heel, but a full day standing on your feet can hurt. Wear a thicker heel or a wedge – stilettos will just sink in the grass, especially if it’s been raining. If your shoes are new, wear them in prior and make sure you can walk in them properly – Party Feet can help.”

Don’t: “Don’t ever take your shoes off,” says Kate. “I’ve seen girls arriving at the races with their shoes in their hands and I think, why? But anyone who’s caught public transport, myself included, knows how long the day can be. My tip? Take a pair of the fold-up ballet flats and pop them in your bag for emergencies.”

Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide shoes 2

Lady Luck: L to R: Gentry Scarlet Sandal by Leona Edmiston, $119, Myer; Soft Nude Leather with Patent Toe Flats, $295.00, PrettyBallerinas; Sayane by Bally, P.O.A; Marlon Suede Slingback With Thick Heel, $414.50, Robert Clergerie; Cute Bow Gladiator Sandal, $319, Marc By Marc Jacobs; Diorissimo Pump, Nude Footwear, $79, Myer.


Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide shoes

Giddy Up! L to R: Heels, $253, Shoes of Prey; Suede pump, $930, Giorgio Armani; Cataclou, $1000, Christian Louboutin; Plasmas Floral Pump, $129, Guess; Hayley Wedge, $99.95, Witchery; Heeled sandals, $253, Shoes of Prey.


All bets on these dressage tips will have you off and running.

Do: “People get confused with race wear,” says Kate. “But it’s really just an extension on the current trends. Look to the runways or what’s in-store and apply the racewear rules to that.” Those rules? “Dress more conservatively than you would for a night club, but dressier than a normal day event. Soft tailoring with longer hemlines in the latest trends, like feminine florals and pastels, 70s styles and monochrome are perfect.”

Don’t: “No midriffs, thigh-high splits or outfits which are too revealing,” advises Kate. “It can’t be all legs and strapless! If you have Members entry, you will need to cover your shoulders too.”

Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide dresses 4

Bright On Baby! L to R: Carla Zampatti Jonquil Bouquet Versailles Gown, $1249, David Jones; Zimmermann Silk Twist Drape Dress, $420, David Jones; LIPSY Lace Faux 2in1 Closed Up Dress, $90, Myer; Appletini Spot Dress, $289, Review.

Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide Dresses 3


Oops A Daisy! L to R: Jayson Brunsdon Black Label Ivory Botanica Asymmetric Dress $199, Myer; Zimmermann Rhythm Inverted Tuck Dress, $595, David Jones; Ted Baker Risha Pleated Dress, $399, David Jones; Conservatory Fitted Floral Dress, $159, Review. 

Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide dresses 2 

Prints Charming! L to R: Zimmermann Rhythm Drape Tunic, $595, David Jones; Cooper O Land Or Bloom Dress, $429, David Jones; Zimmermann Swim Hyper Cobra Dress, $475, David Jones; CAMILLA Altering Perception Fitted Mid Length Dress, $559, David Jones.

Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide Dress

Good Times & Great Classic Hits! L to R: Cameo The End One Shoulder Dress, $87, David Jones; LIPSY Mono Cronelli Placement Dress $119.95, MYER; Carla Zampatti Blush Bamboo First Blush Sheath, $699, David Jones; Nicola Finetti, Fitted Strapless Hibiscus Dress, $257, David Jones.


Leave the saddle bags at home, hay, and pass the weigh-in test!

Do: “Choose a bag that works with your outfit,” suggests Kate. “Some people like to match their shoes with their headwear and bag, but I don’t like to be too matchy. A small shoulder strap bag that’s big enough to hold your essentials – phone, make-up, sunglasses, wallet – and juggle your champagne and race book, is ideal. In terms of colour, you can’t go wrong with neutrals – you’ll also get more wear out of a neutral bag in tan, beige, grey or black after the races.

Don’t: “Avoid big tote style office bags or evening clutches covered in sequins – the right bag is somewhere in between.”

Ultimate Race Day Fashion Guide bags

Saddle Bag free! L to R: Preston small flap, $299, Fossil; Marc by Marc Jacobs Too Hot To Handle Flap Percy $349, David Jones; Sydney Crossbody, $169, Fossil; Origami pouch, $149, Mimco; Mini tote Stella McCartney, $1135, Goop; Gwenyth Black/Cheetah, $139, Status Anxiety.


Whip your overall look into shape and the stallions will be jockeying for your attention.

Do: “Dress appropriately for the weather,” says Kate. “Spring racing is unpredictable – you never know whether it’s going to be raining or scorching hot. But if it’s cold and you don’t have a jacket, the track winds will freeze you! For Spring, try an lightweight coat or on-trend cape.”

Don’t: “Your jacket should not be an afterthought – so don’t sling on a black overcoat if it doesn’t go with your pretty spring dress! Pay attention to the details – from head to toe.”

Get Trackside

Sydney Spring Carnival runs until the 3 November. Tickets available at here. Kate will be on course on The Star Epsom Day on October 3, Sydney’s highlight race day.

Place Your Bets At The Key Events
Saturday 12 September:
De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Day, Rosehill Gardens.
Saturday 19 September:
 Colgate Optic White Stakes Day, Royal Randwick.
Saturday 26 September:
Ronald McDonald House Westmead Golden Pendant Day, Rosehill Gardens.
Saturday 3 October:
The Star Epsom Day, Royal Randwick.
Saturday 10 October: Moët & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes Day, Royal Randwick.
Saturday 17 October;
City Tattersalls Cup Day, Royal Randwick.
Saturday 24 October:
Men of League Cox Plate Day, Royal Randwick.
Saturday 31 October:
Derby Day Race Day Meeting Supported by ADFA, Rosehill Gardens.
Tuesday 3 November:
 McGrath Estate Agents Melbourne Cup Race Day Meeting, Royal Randwick.
Saturday 14 November: Cellarbrations Girls Day Out, Rosehill Gardens.

Written by Franki Hobson

Franki Hobson has worn many hats during her many years as a women's lifestyle journalist and editor. Her launching pad was COSMOPOLITAN magazine, where she moved from News & Entertainment Editor to Features Director, covering everything from the legalisation of the Morning After Pill to Gwen Stefani, fashion, beauty, sex, health, fitness, entertainment and relationships.

In 2003 Franki immersed herself in all things teen as Deputy Editor, then Editor-in-Chief of teen Bible DOLLY magazine. Following this, Franki was made Editor of COSMOPOLITAN Hair & Beauty, COSMOPOLITAN Pregnancy and COSMOPOLITAN Bride magazine, where she held the helm (and tiara) for more than 10 years. Franki was also the launch editor of COSMOPOLITAN Health magazine, and is an accomplished Homes Editor and Travel Editor, covering honeymoon destinations, family travel, luxe abodes and health retreats. Franki Hobson is a contributing lifestyle writer for The Carousel.


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