SPRING means racing and we are already in the thick of it with the Cox Plate last Saturday, Derby Day this Saturday and the race that stops the nation, the Melbourne Cup, just a week away.
It is the latter more than any other race in the country that seems to be embraced by all and sundry.
Everyday Australians who would otherwise not look at a racehorse don their glad rags, study the form guide and part with their five dollars for a bet on the nose.
So if you're off to Flemington or the local track or even the RSL's Cup Day celebrations you will need a stylish outfit to look the part.
Dressing for the races is different from other social events.
Race wear etiquette for men and women alike is steeped in tradition, it is a dress code handed down through the years by racing clubs and their members.
There is a strong emphasis on dressing appropriately while still taking in some racing style.
Although the races can be filled with frivolity it is not a nightclub so banish all thought of garish or low-cut barely there outfits.
Of course this is all-important and it is likely that many a sleepless night is spent contemplating the perfect get-up.
The most important rule here it seems is not to become a slave to fashion but to opt for a style that most suits your figure.
By all means incorporate influences from current trends but think elegance, structure and sophistication.
The race day is a long one and it is better to be stylish and comfortable rather than trying to work with a piece that you are fiddling with all day.
Spring is a time to embrace colour and flirty prints although there will always be a place in the classic look for black and white outfits or well-cut tailored suits.
You can look demure and sexy at the same time, meaning you don't need really low necklines and short skirts to make an impression.
The right fit for your body type, basic colours with great millinery and a show of how you can style yourself are the key.
Most importantly you don't have to spend a fortune to look elegant.
If the finances are able good designer labels are excellent investments but depending on the budget most stores from Target and Portmans to Myer and David Jones have stylish options.
Wearing a headpiece is a must, it completes the outfit.
If you are not confident of tackling a hat there is a large variety of fascinators and other types of headwear which can be worn.
Milliners are in high demand during race season but of course are pricey so perhaps try the large department stores or accessory chains.
Comfortable shoes can make your day so think stylish sensibility rather than killer stilettos.
Ideally shoes should be worn in while thicker heels or a small platform or wedges are better options, especially when walking across grass.
Walking around with your shoes in your hand or BYO flip-flops are a no-no.
The best way to give your outfit a complete look is to ensure your bag matches your shoes and fascinator.
If you are going to spend the day walking around rather than ensconced in a trackside marquee then go for a shoulder bag instead of a clutch so you can have your hands free for a drink or form book.
Think about the weather when dressing.
If the day is meant to be windy or colder than you originally anticipated consider a jacket, shawl or bolero.
If your handbag is big enough sneak in a small umbrella.
Fashion at the races is not just about the fairer sex.
Men also are now thinking long and hard about their outfit.
For men it's always been about the fit of the suit.
Slimline tailored suits are in this year and with the warmer weather coming into play it's best to opt for a lightweight wool fabric.
Stick to a two-button tailored outfit to look sharp and together.
Once your suit is sorted then it's all about the finer details - ties, cufflinks, belts and shirts.
The shirt and tie combination is critical.
Chequered shirts and skinny ties are all the rage but don't get too busy with colours and contrasts.
You want to complement the colours as much as possible and add contrast with fine detailing in the fabric.
Shiny shoes are a given.
Race day no-nos
No shorts, pants, onesies or jumpsuits
No spaghetti straps, strapless or one shoulder dresses - shoulders should be covered
No dresses or skirts shorter than just above the knee
Go light on the fake tan
Don't put your hair in a messy bun or a haphazard pony tail
Don't take your shoes off to walk barefoot or BYO flip flops
No chewing gum
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