The Women’s Guide To Fashion During The Melbourne Cup Carnival

Photo Courtesy: Eva Rinaldi

Every day of the week-long Melbourne Cup Carnival not only brings with it a different set of races – each of them also has its own unique set of fashion rules. It can be particularly difficult for the ladies to keep track of what to wear on each day, so here are some Melbourne Cup Carnival fashion tips to help you decide.

Derby Day
The theme of Derby Day is pretty simple – stick to shades. Black and white are the colours of the day, so make sure they’re the feature of your outfit and keep the brighter outfits in the cupboard until Melbourne Cup Day. As a general rule, the piece of your outfit which is closest to your hair – typically your headpiece – should provide some sort of contrast, so if you’ve got a lighter hair colour then a black hat will work nicely, while white will be more suitable for brunettes. 

Melbourne Cup Day
It’s the biggest day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and indeed of the year, at least in a racing sense, and the outfits people put together on Melbourne Cup Day are suitably memorable. In stark contrast to Derby Day, bright colours are encouraged – if not compulsory – on racing’s biggest day. This gives you a little more room to use your imagination than Derby Day – rather than being limited to just a couple of colours, you’ve got the entire spectrum at your disposal. There aren’t any major no-nos in terms of colours on this day, and as a general rule the bolder the better, but it is worth remembering that the official flower of the day is the yellow rose, so if you’re going to add that to your outfit then make sure that the colours don’t cause too much of a collision.

VRC Oaks Day
VRC Oaks Day is also traditionally referred to as Ladies’ Day, and the dress code is suitably feminine as a result. The colours you’ll see littered throughout Flemington on the Thursday of the Melbourne Cup Carnival are vastly different to what you’ll see on Derby Day and Melbourne Cup Day – outfits aren’t generally black and white nor are they bright and colourful. Instead, soft, pastel hues are the trend of the day. Add a little bit of floral or lace to further commit to the theme, and stay away from the kind of colours which are so rampant a couple of days earlier on Cup Day. The Ladies’ Day theme well and truly extends to the off-track fashion, so keep that in mind when choosing your outfit.

Stakes Day
Stakes Day is the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, and offers attendees a chance to wind down from the formality and rigidity of the previous three days of racing. Unlike during the rest of the carnival, there are no specific rules on Stakes Day. Historically referred to as Families Day, this meeting is far more relaxed than its predecessors and offers kids a chance to show off their best outfits alongside their parents. For mum – and dad – it’s important to remember that this is still the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the dress code is reasonably formal as a result, but you have a little more free reign to follow your instincts here.

Each day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is unique in a multitude of ways, and fashion is just one of them. Planning what to wear can be tricky as a result – particularly if you’re attending multiple days of racing – but the above outfit ideas should give you a little bit of guidance.