Menswear tips for the Spring Racing Carnival

Not just about suits: Myer ambassador Kris Smith shows how to pair separates from the Dom Bagnato collection to create a distinctive race-day look.
Not just about suits: Myer ambassador Kris Smith shows how to pair separates from the Dom Bagnato collection to create a distinctive race-day look. 

Spring has sprung, which means the start of the Spring Racing Carnival is only days away.

Serious punters are probably already eyeing the form but for some racegoers, the biggest gamble won't be on some oddly-named nag. Instead, they will bet on nailing the perfect race-day attire.

It's long been the ladies who have made all the running in the trackside fashion stakes. In recent years, though, well-shod gents are finally hitting their stride, if not yet sticking their collective nose in front.

Race days bring out the best and the worst in men's fashion, and there will always be wannabe gangsters in fedoras and wide, wide ties; ill-fitting suits borrowed from an uncle's last court appearance; and more than a few novelty ensembles.

But men are increasingly realising that no-one's laughing when they turn up to the sport of kings looking less like royalty and more like the court jester. Well, not laughing with them, anyway.

So what should a style-minded gent keep in mind when choosing this year's winning wardrobe?

Double-breasted for the win

The double-breasted jacket is making a triumphant return to menswear. Daniel Jones, the owner and chief tailor at Sydney-based tailor Zink and Sons, says the double-breasted look will be a major player this year, as will men trying their own hand at individual styling.

"The double-breasted jacket is huge in Europe and the UK and it has finally made its way into Australian fashion," Jones says.

"But what I have seen is that, instead of a whole suit or look, a lot of men are ordering individual pieces – pairing tailored chino trousers with a casual sports jacket in a cotton or linen blend."

Leave the office at the office

Another tip to ensure your look is racing fit is to avoid wearing your work suit to the track. Sydney stylist Jeff Lack cautions your favourite suit for Monday morning's power meeting should be left for just that occasion in favour of a lighter, more casual look.

"Don't wear pin-striped business suits to the track," he advises.  "And you should only ever wear black on Derby Day. Instead, try window-pane checks or any of the latest colours for Spring, which are earth tones – think taupe, burnt orange, olive green and chocolate brown."

Accessorise you must

A well-heeled man knows how to rock an accessory. Besides, Spring Racing Carnival is one of the few times men can truly get into the sartorial spirit, so make the most of it. "Lapel pins, tie bars and coloured leather shoes are the accessories that will make a difference this season," Lack says. "Don't be surprised if you see a few Boater hats trackside, too."

And while it's mostly forgotten by the younger crowd, it's also tradition to match your lapel flower to the particular bud chosen for that day. If you've an eye for detail, make sure to check ahead before you turn up rocking a rose on tulip day. If a flower isn't your thing, Jones recommends using a simple pocket square as a finishing detail.

"Pocket squares are a must for racing," he says. "They're a great way to add colour and texture. Don't leave home without it."

Which ties nicely in to the last - and probably most important – piece of advice for making sure you're a winner with your wardrobe, if not with your bookie:

Remember the rules

Just like any club, certain venues and events such as the aforementioned black tie for Derby Day have specific dress codes. Like a punter, study the form to make sure you back the right option.

What are your tips for nailing it style-wise at the races?

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