Spring carnival dress code: What to wear to Derby, Cup, Oaks and Stakes day

The ranks of well-dressed men at spring carnival grow every year. But in the excitement of turning out their best look for the day, some gents are forgetting that the sport of kings comes with a long history of sartorial dos and don'ts.

Here forthwith, a simple break down of the season's key events and accompanying dress codes to have you winning both on and off the field.

Derby Day

First out of the proverbial gate is AAMI Derby Day on Saturday, October 29. Considered the most formal of the main events, it's also the style benchmark for the season and the day men are invited to compete in Myer's Fashions on the Field.

Traditionally, male attire consisted of a grey morning suit, peacock vest and pinstripe pants, finished off with a top hat and the flower of the day – a cornflower – worn in the lapel.

While top-and-tails isn't for everyone, sticking to the black and white dress code is a must. At a stretch, playing with darker charcoals is a nice way of dressing outside of the box.

Cup Day

The jewel in the crown and race a nation stops for, the Emirates Melbourne Cup is next on Tuesday, November 1. Like Derby Day, traditional Melbourne Cup garb involved a combination of tops and tails, while the official flower to wear is the yellow rose.

However, in keeping with the more celebratory nature of the day, Melbourne Cup is now seen as the event where men are encouraged make strong fashion statements by wearing suits in bold colour or patterns in a striking design teamed with eye-catching details such as contrasting accessories. Double-breasted suits with a contrasting waistcoat are a fresh take on more traditional looks.

Crown Oaks Day

Also known as 'Ladies Day', Crown Oaks Day on Thursday, November 3 is all about pastels. Particularly pink.

Light grey suiting with details in pink, pale blue or green is the perfect palette to build on. If you're attending the event with your significant other, as is tradition, then choose accessories that compliment her outfit either in the same colour or pattern. The official flower for the day is the pink rose.


Stakes Day

Wrapping up the carnival on Saturday, November 5 is Emirates Stakes Day, traditionally this more family-oriented event is the most relaxed of the four major races. While no tradition theme is set for this day, attendees are still advised to dress according to Members Enclosures guidelines.

A perfect outfit for Emirates Stakes Day may consist of a blazer and shirt teamed with tailored slacks. This understated look is finished off with the day's official flower of a red rose and a brightly coloured tie.

Finishing touches

There's an expectation that, when it comes to working a winning track-side look, a few risks are to be taken. But it's important to keep in mind that just because it's in trend, doesn't mean it's going to let you in.

Here are some final touches to your look that no man should overlook.

  • Always wear a pocketsquare. It's a small detail that adds a lot of impact and completes your outfit.
  • Always wear socks – despite what the runway tells you, and unless you're in General Admission, spring carnival is not the time to flash some ankles in the name of fashion.
  • Finish the look with the right footwear – polished, well-kept shoes are the anchor to a great suit. Choose brown for lighter shade outfits but stick with traditional black for Derby Day.
  • Grooming. A quick trip the barber ahead of schedule will keep your locks looking tamed and suitable respectable for the VIP area.