Fashion on the track

By Laura Timberlake

Spring is in the air and it’s time to get ready for the racing carnival.

Melbourne has a unique love of racing fashion, to the point where international tourists wonder why on earth anyone would have a public holiday to celebrate a race.

To some, it’s all about the hats. Others prefer to focus on their dresses.

Louise McDonald, a celebrated Melbourne milliner, says that there are three key new millinery styles this season.

They consist of the jockey cap, turban-like styles and a structured visor shape (that has the added bonus of offering some sun protection!).

Louise works on fashion and costume headwear designs from her studio in the CBD, and also creates fashion hats to go with Hugo Boss women’s wear.

Her website ( showcases her beautiful designs and is abundant with helpful race wear tips.

She believes the hat or fascinator should always be purchased before the dress, but concedes that as a milliner she is probably biased.

But … “If you’re buying off the rack (rather than from a milliner), it is better to buy the hat first because there are more dress options to choose from than hats,” she said.

If you do buy a hat in advance, figure out the best way to style it and take a selfie to refer back to.

This makes it easier to remember how you did it on race day!

Some key colours we can expect to see this season include: navy, tangerine, white, black, pale blue, salmon, and hues of purple and lavender.

For a twist consider floral, tropical or animal prints.

Dresses have taken a more contemporary look, with tailored lines and hems sitting just below the knee.

Accessories are best added last to a racing outfit.

A demure outfit can become dazzling with a bit of bling or colour – for example, colourful and oversized sunglasses were a feature at the David Jones Spring Runway.

On the other hand, outrageous fascinators and crazy print dresses probably deserve more understated jewellery.

Louise’s top tips for a fun day at the races included wearing shoes that are worn in – it can make a big difference between having fun and hobbling home in agony.

“Don’t suffer for fashion,” she recommended.

But perhaps the most important tip: don’t forget the sunscreen!    

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