Personally, I love a themed race day. Although the dress code can pose a challenge by narrowing down your choices, the element of restriction can really get the creative juices flowing.

It’s fun having to find new ways to incorporate colours or shapes into an outfit and you just have to take a look around to realise that a dress code does not mean everyone will arrive wearing the same thing. Far from it!

Take Stradbroke Cup for example, the theme was black and white with a touch of red. Not one fashionable lady looked alike.

stradbroke cup day black white touch red

Let’s take a look at some popular race day themes and how women have incorporated it into their outfits.

The Ever Popular Black and White (e.g. Derby Day)

Derby Day in Melbourne is such a fantastic day for people watching. The diverse and creative ways in which women interpret the theme of black and white, showing up in such beautiful ensembles is a joy to see.

Derby day black and white

Derby Day What to wear

Image Credit: On Track On Trend

Ways to approach the black and white theme:

• All white
• All black
• A mixture of black & white
• All white with black accessories
• All black with white accessories
• A printed black and white fabric

When you are limited to black and white, you can add detail by varying your textures. Choose a textured fabric, like leather, baroque, lace, or a fabric with an interesting finish.

Or use beading, feathers, an unusual trim to ensure your outfit stands out!!

Click here for a more comprehensive guide that includes 22 different ways to wear black and white.

A Touch of Colour (e.g. Stradbroke Day)

‘A Touch of Colour’ themed days are fun and easy. With so many accessories to choose from, it’s not hard to find an interesting way to incorporate an extra colour into an outfit.

a touch of colour theme day
touch of red colour themed race day

Although some women use the extra colour as the main event, some judges frown upon that so it’s safer to adhere to the ‘a touch of’ rule.

For Stradbroke Day I made my own red brooch and sewed it onto my dress. I also wore red lipstick, as did almost every woman there!

Ways to add a touch of colour:

• Clutch
• Gloves
• Shoes
• Belt
• Millinery
• Coloured fabric
• Trim
• Sleeves
• collar

A Touch of Metallic (e.g. Doomben 10,000 Day)

What a great excuse to wear SEQUINS!! It’s no secret, I’m all about sequins and a strong believer that there’s no reason why they have to be limited to nightclubs.

Worn the right way, sequins on a bag, a crown or a trim can look super chic at the races. But that’s me, your idea of ‘a touch of metallic’ might be something totally different.

touch of metallic themed race day

Image credit: Sarah Bremner @fashionable_free_me

Ways to add a touch of metallic:

• Wear a gold/ silver or sequin crown or millinery
• Choose a fabric with a sheen finish
• Wear gold or silver accessories
• Gold heels are very in at the moment, or even a patent finish on heels gives them a metallic sheen
• Gold/chrome/silver buckle on your belt
• Hardware of your clutch
• Gold eye shadow- gold in the corner of your eyes looks beautiful
• Detailing- some shiny sequins or diamantes beaded around the sleeves or around a pattern in your fabric look gorgeous

Two Colours (e.g. Surf Life Saving Day- Red & Yellow)

Some race days come with a theme of two colours – sometimes to do with the sponsors of the event.

Depending on what the two colours are, you may find this one challenging, or fun. Take the theme of red and yellow for example, two colours I would not normally pair together.

two colours theme
By adding in a print, the overall visual effect of the colour clash wasn’t so harsh. And in this case, trial and error is key!

Try on as many variations of the colours as possible until you find something balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Dressing for a Decade (e.g. Vintage Theme)

‘Vintage’ seems to be the word of the decade, even though it’s far from this decade! It’s a popular way to dress and has filtered into the FOTF competitions in a few places over the last few years.

For this theme I would do a little bit of research. Look at the popular silhouettes of the era, the fabrics and accessories.

vintage themed races

Image credit: Christine Spielmann @therequiemtrend

vintage themed race event

Image credit: Tatiana Hoffman

vintage themed floral dress

Image credit: Darwin Turf Club

This year Darwin’s FOTF had a vintage theme to celebrate their 60th anniversary and ladies executed this beautifully with full skirts or wiggle dresses, gloves, pearls and dainty shoes.

Florals and polka dots were popular choices as well as pops of colour.

Ladies Day (e.g. Oaks Day)

A theme day which focuses on femininity is not uncommon and Oaks Day, in Flemington, is a great example.

This theme is a little broader than others because it means you can pretty much wear whatever you want, but girly and feminine colours and shapes are most common.

ladies day theme oaks
Floral prints, pastel colours and womanly shapes float around looking fresh and feminine.

feminine Oaks Day theme

Image credit: On Track On Trend

Melbourne Cup Day

Melbourne Cup Day doesn’t have a particular theme, so it’s your chance to wear bright colours and have fun with your outfit.

It signifies the end of Winter Racing fashion and the transition into Spring and Summer, so take full advantage of it.

Try a new style or colour and don’t be afraid to mix prints. Take note of current fashion trends and fabrics, but put your own personal stamp on an outfit by making it all yours!

Melbourne Cup Day Theme Colours

spring carnival themed race day

Image credit: On Track On Trend

So which do you prefer? The challenge of a themed race day or the freedom of a regular race day?


Are you attending Melbourne Cup or Spring Carnival this year? Come join over 300 ladies in the Field Fashion Community Facebook Group as we get race day ready together!

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