It’s the race that stops a nation, otherwise known as the perfect day to get a frock on and debate what goes on the head … hat or fascinator?!
Whether you get together with work colleagues, friends or get amongst it at Caulfield, the first Tuesday of November each year calls for the complete outfit; frock, shoes, handbag and whatever you decide to put on your head, along with tan, hair and makeup. And we ladies do all this for essentially three minutes of anticipation until those beautiful beasts thunder past the post.
I have always had an interest in the Melbourne Cup, even when in late high school we would put the radio on and listen to the race. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Melbourne and, of course, it’s an unwritten holiday in the CBD. So we were off to the Cup for the day with some girls and guys, short-lived as typical of Melbourne, the rain pelted sidewards, our heels disappeared in mud and we packed up and watched in the lounge room. Another time, years later we were in the Birdcage with the beautifully dressed and the Cup hype, boiling hot, the champagne running aplenty. It was a great experience.
In the early years of having babies, my Mother’s Group got together and we dressed up and watched the Cup at one of our houses. We saw this as a great opportunity to share the event together and it was too difficult to get babysitters at that stage. A few years on, kids are at school, and it’s still the best excuse to get a group of girlfriends, primp and preen, and find a local event where seafood and champagne are the order of the day … maybe a fashion show and a shoe competition.
Nowadays, with the kids finished school, there are no factors of school pick-up, etc., so my girlfriends celebrate wherever we fancy, maybe Randwick or in recent years we have been to the Barracks at Paddington in a beautiful marquee. Really as long as the race is broadcasted and there are the essentials of champagne and seafood, it’s a great tradition to share with your best girls.
Still, the question lies, what’s the best for the head?
Lee Baker-Louis, a superb stylist, is one of our wonderful Girls Getaways partners, and has shared these pointers about the race outfit.
“Choosing an outfit for the races can be tricky to say the least! Heels, skirt lengths, and, oh, the headwear! Look for dresses made in well-cut quality fabrics, that fall at least to the knee. Short skirts, tight fits and midriffs are not for the races. Make sure your dress has balance – if you opt for a revealing neckline, make sure your skirt finishes below the knee. If your dress has sleeves you can go for a fitted, pencil type skirt that finishes on the knee or below. The races is all about being tasteful and classic. Brights and prints are perfect if you’re attending the spring carnival, while black and white is always gorgeous and essential for Derby Day.
Makeup should be tasteful and not too heavy handed – you will be in natural light for most of the day, so be careful of blending correctly. At carnival times and on big race days, headwear is essential. Take your dress with you when shopping so you get a perfect match. Either fascinators or hats are completely acceptable. While most of the time I’m banging onto my clients about not matching too much, the races is very different. Your dress, bag, shoes and hat should match to some degree. Keep jewellery to a minimum; too much costume jewellery isn’t right for the races.”
I also spoke to my longest ever friend, Mel Rynehart, who is a past racehorse owner. She is going this year, and does so many other years, to a marquee with nine other fillies! It’s $500 each for the day and she says it’s worth every penny.
“The things I most enjoy about the Spring Carnival are the wonderful outfits, the excitement, and anticipation of the crowds at the races. Most of all, I love the magnificent horses that take part in the races. My favourite headpiece is a fascinator; it’s so much fun picking your outfit and then planning and organising your fascinator to be made to match your outfit.”
What are you doing this race day? Share below.
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