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David Jones

Thelma Talks...Racing

JONES Fashion Director JONES Fashion Director Thelma McQuillan

Spring Racing season is just around the corner and the secret to a winning look is to be organised! I am a huge fan of the races and, for me, the carnival can’t come soon enough. How much fun is it to get dressed up and spend the day with your friends, with everyone looking so chic and fabulous? After many years of dressing various celebrities for the race days, here are a few of my tips:

Don’t leave it to the last minute. The races are becoming more popular every year, so you should not leave planning your outfit any later than a couple of weeks before the event. Always start with the clothing and ensure you have researched the dress code for your day of choice. For example, Caulfield Cup does not have a particular dress code, whereas Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse has a traditionally black-and-white dress code. 

Racing image 3 Rachel Gilbert dress, Morgan & Taylor headpiece, Olga Berg headpiece

Super-short hemlines, plunging necklines, bare shoulders and bare midriff are not suitable for any race day. In fact, Flemington Racecourse has been known to refuse entry to those who blatantly abuse these rules! Your dress should be sophisticated and elegant – you are at the races, not a nightclub. Melbourne Cup day is all about colour and print, this is the day you can be bold – especially with your hat – but remember to balance. If your dress is loud keep your hat/headpiece simple (and vice versa).

Racing Hero Alice McCall jumpsuit, Suzy O'Rourke headpiece

For men, Melbourne Cup is the day to steer clear of the plain black suit. Go for something more adventurous, especially with the tie and pocket square. Keep it fun and don’t be afraid of prints and florals. I love to see guys who have clearly thought about their look and paid attention to the details. Don’t forget your tie pin and cufflinks, and of course the must to finish the look is the floral buttonhole: the official flower for Derby Day is the cornflower; for Melbourne Cup, the yellow rose; for Crown Oaks, the pink rose; and for Emirates Stakes, the red rose.

Men Racing Armani Collezioni suit, shirt, tie & pocket square


Oaks day is ladies day so this is traditionally the day to wear something pretty and feminine. The last day of the carnival is Stakes day, which is more of a family affair and much more relaxed in terms of dress code. So no matter which day (or days!) you are attending, remember to pay attention to the details and keep your look chic and elegant. Oh and think carefully about your choice of footwear – you’re in for a long day standing up, so don’t let blisters or back pain distract you from the good times.

Racing Main 1 Alexander McQueen blouse, Erdem skirt, Heidi Klum Intimates bra, Jane Lambert headpiece

 Words by Thelma McQuillan | Photography by Georges Antoni

For more Spring Dressing inspiration check out David Jones' new catalogue