In this comprehensive guide to race dress shopping, we start by taking a look at what makes a good race dress and then review some of the best places to shop online and in stores.
This is one epic post, so I encourage you to use the links below if you’d like to jump to a specific section:
The Definition of a Race Dress
This is a hard one to define. Better to start with what a race dress is not.
It’s not a cocktail dress.
It’s not evening wear.
It’s not formal.
It’s certainly not club wear.
It is dressier than resort wear or day wear.
Perhaps best described as an entire, well-planned, head to toe outfit.
Classy and modest. Classic, with a modern twist.
I did say it was hard to define!
Millinery is a must. Other features, like gloves and accessories, need to be considered too.
And like all fashion, race wear trends are forever changing and evolving, so it’s up to you to keep up to date and inject your own personal style into your outfits.
Guidelines for Choosing a Suitable Race Dress
Race dresses are typically modest.
In the past few years we have seen a longer hemline dominate FOTF stages. The midi length is by far the most popular dress length.
But, hemlines have been creeping up in the last year and when done right, an above the knee dress can be a real statement too.
Your top half should also be classy, so straps are thicker and feature sleeves are popular. No plunging necklines, so conceal your cleavage and save it for later (!)
When it comes to fabric, steer clear of anything clingy or disco-y. Heavier fabrics with a good fall and drape are favored. Lace, brocade and jacquards are always a popular fabric choice.
I do want to mention here, however, that if you are just attending the races for a fun-filled day with the girls without the stress of competing, your outfits can be slightly less conservative.
Myer ambassadors and style icons, like Jen Hawkins, Steph Smith and Rebecca Judd don’t shy away from the odd spaghetti strap. There are still some strapless numbers, or skirts with a high split, or an open back floating around looking gorgeous. Just keep to a modest length.
Popular Race Day Dress Shapes
Here are some favourite silhouettes for race dresses:
The Full Skirt
Whether it’s a dress or a skirt, a full skirt is always on trend at the races. The way it falls is a classic look and suits most body shapes.
The skirt can have an abundance of fabric and layers, or a mullet style hem, or panels. It is fun to play around with this shape and every year there are new trends emerging within this style.
An elegant cut, the pencil dress is a popular silhouette for a race wear dress. The fabric is usually the star. Beautiful laces, bold prints and colour blocking are all features of the pencil dress.