THE country’s hair salons, tan shacks, frock shops, nail barns, Myer stores and marquee maestros are doing a roaring trade leading up to the race that stops a nation.

It is time to come out to play for a day at the races and for some, that means playing hard, short and very fast. For others (fortunately) the choice is to take a more classic, tailored and stylish approach.

With trackside fashion on some people’s minds and the race to get invited to the best marquee well and truly started it got me thinking about some racing fashion fails and triumphs.

From décolletage alerts to flashing too much flesh, ridiculous hats and tans, you have been warned. Next week, trackside will be full of them, so hold onto your hat, we could be in for a bumpy but fun ride.

Lots of gorgeous young, middle-aged and older women think a day at the races is a chance to let their hair extensions takeover and take their puppies out for a run. Take Paris Hilton.

Sometimes, you can tell there is a wardrobe malfunction ready to happen, as Hilton nearly experienced when she wore this LOW-cut, revealing dress/skirt (above) in 2003.

Like she used to always do, Paris captured all the race day headlines with her barely-there look.

When Brynne Edelsten premiered trackside, she certainly bought “sensation” back to the races, but whether some of her choices met the “dress chic” criteria is a sticking point for the style set.

Two years ago, the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) initiated a no-midriff policy, one they continue to this day. According to their rule book, the VRC has the right to “refuse entry to any person considered inappropriately attired”. Whether that advice is adhered to, we’ll soon see.


■ Interesting textures like lace and pleats; expect to see lots of white lace on Derby Day this Saturday.

■ Black and white metallic, with splashes of silver and gold in bags, shoes and headwear. Check out styles from queen crown-maker Viktoria Novak, hat guru Nerida Winter and talented milliner Hatmaker.

■ A fit and flare shape, tighter around the top and flared out at the waist is the preferred shape of the racing season.

■ According to the Myer style peeps, long or midi and cap sleeved dresses, as well as detailed high neck pieces will be popular this season.

Cup Day is all about bright and bold colours, and large scale bold prints while clashing prints and contrasting bags are definitely the go

Pastels, light flowing fabrics and pretty floral will be a big trackside trend as well as dainty, nude and white or metallic accessories. Draws styles and ladylike neck and hem lines will rule.


■ Shorts: even of they are smart “walk” shorts, a day at the races is not the time to look like you are about to step out onto the golf course.

■ Don’t wear brand new shoes. You want to make sure you can walk comfortably all day and not be part of the shoes over your shoulder brigade at the end of the day

■ Don’t wear an outfit that is too revealing or one where you can see your midriff: leave that for the beach. Races are about elegance and sophistication.

■ Don’t wear millinery that is SOO over the top that it gets in the way of other racing guests.

■ Don’t forget to be aware of the Racing Club’s specific dress regulations. These can be found on the VRC website.

■ Don’t forget to dress appropriately for the predicted weather forecast on race day. And at this stage, Cup Day isn’t looking great.

This year there is a mixed crew of peeps coming to the carnival. Celebrity types like Usain Bolt, E!’s Maria Menounos and a possible Kylie Minogue appearance along with the usual slew of diehard socialites and red-carpet aficionados will be twirling around corporate marquees.

Most will be coming to Melbourne as guests of marquees hosted by the likes of Myer, Lexus, Mumm, Emirates, Crown, James Boag, Yellowglen, Hilton, Tabcorp, Wolf Blass, Sensis and the lavish Lavazza.

In fact, all of the marquees have opened their doors for the very first time today, ahead of the Cup Carnival, reiterating that the Flemington “birdcage” precinct will feature the who’s who of racing “society”.

No doubt the international cast list will be (subtly) advised on what they should and shouldn’t wear. (More like “advised”: can you imagine telling Bolt what to wear?)

So whether you frock up big time for the races, just keep those immortal words from Ron Burgundy in the back of your mind. Stay classy.

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