What to Wear to Melbourne Cup Carnival

What to Wear to Melbourne Cup Carnival

The weather is warming up here in Melbourne and this year’s Cup Carnival is just around the corner… Very exciting!

This means it’s time to start planning your race day outfits. Dressing for the races isn’t the same as dressing for a nightclub! Oh no siree; getting dressed for Flemington means respecting the tradition of dressing smartly and appropriately for each of the race days.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival comes with strict race wear etiquette for both ladies and gents. The tradition stems from a very formal dress code handed down through the generations by racing clubs and their proud members.

To look your best for Cup Carnival (in true racing form), follow these simple race day style guides…

What to Wear to Melbourne Cup Carnival

What to Wear to Melbourne Cup Carnival


Cup week begins with AAMI Victoria Derby Day, the day for classic elegance, which sets the pace for the entire week. Traditionally, a monochrome (black and white) colour scheme for women has been the prominent palette, while men often chose to wear a grey morning suit, peacock vest and pin-stripe pants.


Emirates Melbourne Cup Day… the race that stops the nation. A day where the ladies can inject some colour into their dresses and accessories, Today you can make a bold statement in terms of colour; and for men, a beautifully cut suit, with a tie that compliments your ladies ensemble, is perfect. It is the day to make your strongest fashion statement or wear something (tastefully) daring.


Crown Oaks Day is an occasion for the ladies to express their own signature style, amid a spectacular racing backdrop. Traditionally known as ladies day, it’s important to look stylishly feminine, achieved by choosing clothes that fit your body type and personality. Choose dresses that flow over your body, like chiffon and silk, or styles that feature floral prints or lace detailing. Team your frocks with a flower crown or complimentary colourful fascinator. Ideal suiting shades for men include navy, linen and light grey.


The final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is Emirates Stakes Day. Traditionally known as family day at Flemington, is the most relaxed of the four days of the carnival. It’s the day for the littlies to show their style and a chance for older girls and boys to inject a pleasant mix of understated style and fun. The key is maintaining a classic look without too looking conservative.



Headwear across all the race days for ladies is a must. This spring expect to see lots of hats including boaters, pillboxes, trilbies and fedoras, which look fabulous with structured dresses and two-piece suits for the more mature lady. These hat styles look gorgeous finished with netting over the eyes or vintage jewel embellishments.

You can never go wrong with a well made, quality designed fascinator (either headband or comb style, depending on your personal preference). Bows, brooches and gemstones are also on-trend as under stated headwear options.



Gents, for a formal finishing touch on each of the days, pop a flower for your buttonhole. Each meeting has an official nominated flower; a cornflower for Derby Day, a yellow rose for Melbourne Cup Day, a pink rose for Oaks Day and for Emirates Stakes Day, a red rose.




See you trackside looking glamorous and sharp!


PS. Here are some pieces to help you get started….




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Emily Collie is Editor of lifestyle & travel blog, Melbourne Girl. A wife, mother and fashion addict, with a passion for sharing her experiences in her home city of Melbourne and around the globe.


  • […] If you’re like me and getting organised for the Melbourne Cup Carnival, you’ll need to get sorted with a gorgeous dress for each of the racedays. Remember, the carnival comes with strict race wear etiquette for both ladies and gents, a tradition that stems from a very formal dress code handed down through the generations by racing clubs and their proud members. So you need a dress that’s appropriate for each of the meets. (Read more on race wear etiquette here) […]

  • […] the traditional black and white dress theme, the crowds flocked to Flemington in the gorgeous Melbourne […]

  • […] If you’re heading along and need any last minute fashion tips, be sure to check out our ‘Guide to Dressing for Melbourne Cup Carnival‘. […]

  • October 6, 2014

    Alias Mae x Spring Racing - MELBOURNE GIRL

    […] Before I start, it’s important to note that everyday has a strict traditional race wear etiquette and while we touch on the styles below, be sure to read the post on ‘What to Wear’ to Cup Carnival here. […]

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