Brand Yourself at the Oaks Day [Spring Carnival Fashion]
Written on the 8 November 2012 by Rachel Quilty, Personal Brand Strategist
I have become known to many as a business etiquette coach, merely because I love etiquette and to build your celebrity brand it is important to look good and act accordingly. Many of our clients are treated like VIP's simply because they behave like VIP's and know the important rules of engagement; charismatic social etiquette leadership and charming manners.
So imagine my concern when I flick on the news of the recent Race Days Fashions and see so many shocking fashion faux pas. You may be excused if its your first time to the track or you simply didn't know that there are unwritten rules to dressing for the Spring Racing Carnival [ likewise the Winter Carnival] and specific dress codes for special Race Days such as Derby Day, Melbourne Cup and Oaks Day (See Correct Dress Code below.)
To help you develop your signature style and successfully brand yourself at the Spring Racing Carnival as part of the sophisticated race going set I have created the following tips to avoid Race Day Fashion Faux Pas.
Avoiding fashion faux pas is quite simple. There are several fashion blunders that stand out each year. Avoid making the “What Not To Wear” columns by following these simple rules:
Correct Race Day Fashion:
Race Days are one of the most fashionable days imaginable. However, it isn’t necessarily the day you wear your most fashion forward outfit. Race day fashion has its own unique genre; and you should consider purchasing a new fashionable outfit specifically for the races. You will be able to wear it again as a smart evening suit for dinners or a party.If you are a TV personality or celebrity this is the one day you dress uniquely and avoid photos with others who may have similar colours or styles.
Race day fashion is a generally a classic look or style with a modern or contemporary twist.
Ladies should choose a smart dress or suit. Remember although it may be tempting to wear a dress that you could wear again to a night club, Race day is not a day to wear miniskirts, halter necks, strapless dresses and spaghetti straps. You can never go wrong with a feminine suit or classy tailored dress.
Remember is you are taking a picnic; you will need to be able to get up and sit down without providing people nearby with a personal encounter with your underwear selection or a gaping neckline.
It is fine for ladies to wear trouser suits or a matching top and trousers.
Remember a day at the races can be quiet tiring with a lot of standing around so toe-pinching stilettos might not be the best choice. Consider pumps with a solid or stacked heel or wedges so you don't sink into the ground like our Prime Minister did in India..
Never take off your shoes. Go prepared and purchase some Party Feet products or similar which pad toes and heels. Take First Aid Strips or Band Aids and Paracetamol. Consider purchasing a pair of Scholl’s ballet style flats/ jiffy's..
Correct Tan Shade:
Never goes to the Races with a dark fake tan. If you are pale and are going to get a spray tan get a light to medium tan two or three days prior to the Races. Spray tans should only be a few shades darker than your natural colour to give you a healthy glow. You should not be so neon orange you glow in the dark.
Correct Weather Forecast:
Dress for Race Day weather as best you can. Check the forecast. Remember your hat should never get wet.
It is almost inevitable during Spring Carnival in Victoria, Australia and Race season in the UK that it will rain, yet most people are not prepared. Make sure you take a compact umbrella or even a clear plastic rain coat or poncho.
Even, Spring/Summer race meetings can be quite chilly in the late afternoon so bring a smart pashmina or jacket to avoid looking and feeling cold.
Often Race days can be windy so mind what underwear your wearing. If you are wearing a skirt or dress that could blow up wear a pair of beautiful panties or boy leg pants or a 50’s style pair - not G-strings.
Importantly, Race day is not usually a day for displays of cleavage, even if your cleavage is magnificent. Think sophisticated not super sexy. Unless your seeking the cover of the next Playboy or Penthouse magazine, consider your image and personal brand. It can be incredibly distracting for all concerned if you show excessive cleavage. People do not know where to look and the people who are only too happy to speak to you are only interested in one thing and it isn’t your sparkling conversation.
Just as an afterthought, underwear should definitely be worn. Do not be tempted to go braless or panty free. Purchase the correct style for your dress and ensure it is the correct colour even if you have a plunging neckline or back. There are no excuses.
Wearing a hat to the Races is really one of the most important reasons to go. Of course there's the horse racing but it's really about the hat. We love to wear hats but rarely have the opportunity. Take advantage and go with the re-emerging trend of hat wearing. Choose a hat in the correct style, fabric and size. If you are not a hat wearer consider a beautiful coiffure with a feather or jewellery or a fascinator. Even a simple flower adornment is appropriate. If your headwear is a statement piece dress simply likewise if your hat is simple add some flair to your outfit.
Correct Hat Size:
If you've chosen an extravagant creation, spare a thought for your fellow race-goers - an elaborate hat might block their view of the action.
It is notoriously difficult to socially kiss while wearing a wide-brimmed hat. There is a knack to tilting the head at a suitable angle, but two ladies both in wide brimmed hats should avoid such an 'intimate' greeting.
Also remember that your hat should be in the right proportion and create an overall balanced silhouette.
Traditionally a small clutch, small handbag or evening style handbag is appropriate.
Consider taking a beautiful tote bag also with all your extra items in it such as umbrella, pashmina and other Plan B essentials. Once you have arrived, you can easily place this under the table or hide it in your picnic basket. In you are taking photos place it on the ground with the photographer, they will understand.
Race day is not a day for excessive drinking; instead it’s a day to enjoy some drinks in a more sophisticated atmosphere and style. Consider Brown Brother’s low alcohol offerings which are perfect for Spring and Summer days when it’s tempting to indulge in a refreshing drink due to the heat. Drink plenty of water.Pace yourself. It's a long afternoon, so break up your forays to the racetrack, the winning post or the winner's enclosure with a chance to sit down, relax and enjoy the refreshments on offer.
Don't over-indulge. You don't want to make an exhibition of yourself.
Picnics are often taken at the car before the first race.Or you may go to a restaurant before hand. Or maybe you are dining at the venue in a function room or in one of the many sponsored or corporate tents and marquees along the track. Mind your table manners, even when eating alfresco.
If you are not dining at the track or haven’t booked a brunch at a nearby restaurant then ensure you have a filling breakfast. Eating at the venue can be costly but ensure you eat during the day if you haven't made alternative arrangements.
Australian Race day goers regularly bring a picnic along to the track which is a lovely idea. Always check with the venue event information if that is acceptable. Generally if your ticket is general admission a nice picnic spot can be located on the lawns. Arrive early to choose a good spot. Remember when the races start people will watch near the fence line so this may not be the best location. Consider a rise where you can see over the race goers near the fence and not get trampled it the punters excitement.
Consider keeping it light and packed in a beautiful picnic basket with a nice rubber backed rug to place on the ground. Your picnic should be pre-made sandwiches or breads, cheeses and dips. Keep it simple and disposable. Rolling eskies and mini fridges into the grounds is not appropriate or terribly classy.
Correct Dress Code:
Many Race Day’s have a specific dress code that should be adhered to if you intend to go to the track that particular day. Even if there is not a specific dress code for that specific day there is still an expected Race day attire for both men and women. For example Derby Day's dress code is black and white, Melbourne Cup's is specific Race Day Fashion and Oaks Day is lady like elegance.
Correct Race Day Etiquette:
Generally people you should conduct yourself with finesse and use normal good manners and dining etiquette. However, if you are attending a Race day even if you have not interest in horse racing you should still take a few moments to read the form guide and place a small bet even if it’s just in a sweepstake.
If it sounds like there is a lot of do and don’t well like any prestigious social event there are unwritten and sometime even written rules on what your expected to wear and how you are expected to behave. That’s why we created a Race Day Fashion, Dress Codes and Etiquette Guide to ensure that if you go to a Race Day you can easily and effortlessly look like you belong to the horse race set.
Download a Kindle Version of our 60 page guide to Race Day Fashion, Dress Codes and Etiquette Guide - How to Dress for Spring Racing Carnival, Race Day Fashion, Dress Codes and Etiquette on Amazon today for only $2.99 US.