Written on the 14 August 2012 by Rachel Quilty, Co-contributor Kimberley Cole
As the warmth of spring and summer fades into crisp winter days, deciding what to wear to winter racing carnivals can be become more problematic. Just like spring and summer races, dressing for the Winter Racing Carnival brings with it its own dress rules.
Firstly, dress for the weather. Chances are it’s going to be cold so factor this into your dress. While men will probably be fine in a plain suit, adding a waistcoat can add extra warmth, as can choosing a suit of heavier fabric. Women should opt for dresses made of warmer fabrics like wool, crepe, brocade or heavy laces and avoid lightweight chiffons and other summer choices. Alternatively, team your dress with a bolero or tailored jacket for extra warmth and consider wearing stockings.
Secondly, choose to wear a hat or some form of headwear. Generally, hats worn to winter races should be made of felt so avoid those made of straw or fabric. Cloche hats are particularly appropriate for the colder seasons and many designers have come out with feminine trilby style hats that also work well in winter. Fascinators and headpieces should be placed on the right side of the head where hats however, should sit at an angle with the back of the hat at the base of your skull. Men often do away with wearing hats but choosing the right one can add the perfect finishing touch. Finding a hat is sometimes the most difficult part of putting together an outfit so to get a feel for what you do and do not like, look to photos of previous year’s winter race days. Alternatively, department stores like Myer and David Jones are heavily involved in race day fashion and searching their catalogues and photo shoots can also provide inspiration.
Secondly, dress appropriately. The races are supposed to be a classy event. Under no circumstances should jeans and runners be an option for men, a suit or, for the less formal days, slacks and a button up shirt with a tie is a must. Men often forget about accessorising but adding a hat, a pocket handkerchief, a masculine watch, cufflinks and a pair of sunglasses—not those you would wear playing sport—can give a suit a polished, sophisticated look. For men, shoes should match the colour of their belt and be well polished. Women should not choose anything with sequins, anything tight or anything too revealing. Dresses should have straps of at least one inch thickness and hemlines should fall to the knee or below and, if the dress you like errs on the short side, consider adding stockings. Consider the colours you are wearing too. Instead of summery prints opt for autumn shades like jewel tones or nude colours. Gloves can add sophistication to an outfit and have the added bonus of providing warmth in winter, but choose wisely and ensure they work with your ensemble. As for shoes, these should never be taken off while at the track. If you know you cannot handle walking in stilettos for a day choose a kitten heel or wedge instead and ensure you wear your shoes in before the day for optimum comfort. Closed or peep toe shoes are preferable so avoid anything too strappy or complex and choose something that will not sink in the grass. Make-up should be kept understated. .
Lastly, act appropriately. Race days are long days and people often forget to pace themselves. Remember to drink water in between alcoholic beverages and eat as well. The general rule of thumb is one drink per race, with water in between. Dressing classily is not enough to cement that impression in others you meet, you need to walk the walk as well.
Race days are among the most anticipated events on the winter social calendar and following these guidelines will ensure you make the best of impressions trackside.
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