How to pick a real winner at this year's Melbourne Cup Carnival

And they're off! Race season has kicked off with a controversial start but this hasn't dampened the spirits of those determined to dust off their carnival best for another year. And potentially go home a little heavier in the back pocket too.

A day at the tracks has become as close to a dedicated men's fashion week as Australia gets. Blokes are getting increasingly bolder in their sartorial choices, from colour to combos of varying patterns or prints.

"[Spring carnival] is always a great chance to step out of your ordinary work attire and try a bit more colour or pattern or add some panache with a pocket square or bolder tie," says Matthew Keighran.

Fierce competition

Keighran, Managing Director of Hugo Boss SEAPAC, is predicting this year's male attendees will be rivalling their fairer counterparts when it comes to stealing the show.

"Jacket and trouser combinations continue to perform well and jackets are great to wear at other times with jeans or chinos. Try some colour boys!"

Straight up – if you haven't already met with your tailor of choice by you've missed the boat as far as customisation is concerned.  But there are still ways you can turn out a winner's wardrobe whether it's tackling the traditions of Derby Day or going all out on the colourways at the main event – the Melbourne Cup.

Derby Day, November 3

The first event out of the gate is all about tradition, but that's not to say that those with an adventurous bent can't give add their own twist on the theme. One prediction for this year has been a reversal of colour, as men forgo the black for an all-white suit.

"Derby day is traditionally black and white but has evolved into various shades of grey in recent years," says Keighran.

"It allows for the play of monotone shades but this does not need to be boring.  Checks, spots, stripes and paisley in black, white and grey can work.  Three piece suits are always a sharp look - for one step further try a white suit in cotton."


Deliberately contrast your accessories with a sharp geometric pattern tie and a floral or paisley for the pocketsquare, in either shades of grey or Derby Day black and white punctuated with the official flower, the corn flower.

Melbourne Cup, November 6

The main event is one that embraces a more colourful fanfare. Reds, blues, yellows, and greens have all been spied trackside over recent years.

"We also seeing a shift away from the many blue shades that have dominated men's fashion for most of this decade," says Keighran.

"Try neutral shades of grey, beige and khaki for something new and highlight colours like yellow, turquoise and washed red."

Matt Jensen, founder of Australian label MJ Bale, suggests following the Italian's lead and swapping the suit for separates.

"For the old hands at spring racing, I'd advise breaking up the traditional suit by wearing mismatched jackets and trousers – what the Italians refer to as spezzato. It's essentially taking the jacket from one suit and matching it with the trousers of another."

White, or cream, with blue are a solid combinations for this particular effect, or layering olive and natural tones.

Finish with the yellow rose, the day's official flower.

Kennedy Oaks Day, November 8

Pink, pale grey and pastels are the hallmark for what has also become known as Ladies Day.

"We've gone with some new punchy pastel linen-cotton suits in colours of pink, taupe and a three-piece in blue," says Jensen.

Where accessories are often the simplest way to bring some panache to your suit, Harrolds' Managing Director Ross Poulakis suggests betting big on patterns.

"A huge trend I noticed recently in Milan contrast shirting against printed suits," says Poulakis.

"Think a classic windowpane check suit against a striped shirt."

"For those guys wanting a more unique or individual look, they can opt for a sand-coloured suit, worn with a denim shirt, tie and pocket square," adds Jensen.

Last detail is the ever-present official flower, which for Oaks is the pink rose.

Stakes Day, November 10

This is the final meet of the week and the most relaxed. Family Day brings a more low-key vibe to style choices – chinos and a blazer being the most reached for selection.

This isn't an excuse for playing it safe, mind you, and men are still able to steal the show. Choose a patterned shirt – polkadot or pinstripe – layered with a complimentary tie and the obligatory pocketsquare and official flower, which for Stakes Day is the red rose.

It's also a chance to really let the finishing touches have their time in the spotlight.

"It all comes down to the finer details," says Poulakis.

"It could be the tongue in cheek cufflink, detailed sunglasses. Ensuring that these are always reflective of one's character."

Check out the gallery above to see some essential extras that will ensure a winner's experience.