Spring racing is probably the only time (apart from a big occasion like a wedding), when we men actually take an interest in our wardrobe. It’s now a badge of honour to outdo your mates, not just in picking winners, but in looking a winner yourself. To the untrained, it can be a daunting task to match a pocket square and tie, so I’m here to help.
My theory is that, while wardrobe is one thing, it’s your overall approach to race day and its etiquette that really reflects your personal style. So, first of all, own the day. Yes, it’s time to man up and show that you can be your best, most organised self. Key to this is planning your entrance and exit. If you haven’t downloaded Uber, now is the time to do it. And opt for UberBlack. Paying the surcharge will mean you’ll arrive at the track like Beyoncé and Jay Z and not be left stranded on the curb at the end of the day while everyone’s trying to hail a taxi or, worse still, slumming it on the train. I’d even suggest leaving before the last race and whisking her off to a surprise romantic dinner afterwards. All this will help you stay your tidy best throughout the day, not blow too much on the races, and be seen as the perfect partner.
When it comes to betting, preparation is essential. Study the form guides and reach out to mates in the know. Pick a maximum of four races and set a betting budget for the day. The worst thing to do is take tips from a random stranger in the tote line. If you have responsibility for your own bets, you’ll feel better about your wins and losses. And don’t give your tips to anyone. You don’t want to be responsible for your boss losing his coin. Of course, you don’t have to bet at all, but it’s fun to be part of the action. My fall-back if I’m not prepared is a $10 bet on the mystery trifecta. It’s long odds, but pretty damn good if you win. And, when it comes to drinking, pace yourself. A good tip is to drink water for the first two hours and, after that, only French champagne. The cost will limit how much you can consume and you’re less likely to have a hangover the next day. But really, spring racing season for men is all about “peacockery”. In fact, the Australian spring racing season is now seen as the southern hemisphere’s equivalent of menswear mecca Pitti Uomo in Florence, where well-dressed dandies fight for the attention of street-style photographers. It’s our exposure to these peacocks on social media that’s given Aussie men the courage to break the rules and go the extra mile in terms of tailoring at the racetrack.
A massive trend picked up from these street-stylers is the notion of separate suiting, where you mix and match different jackets and pants for a layered look. It means that a few key suits can last a whole season, depending on how you wear them. Mixing and matching is also the key to confident accessorising with details like ties, pocket squares, lapel pins, tiepins, hats and socks. For safety, I tend to go with items in the same tone, say blue, but to play with patterns and texture, say stripes, polka dots, checks, linens and cottons. I’m a stickler for custom and spring racing carnival dress codes, so it’s straw hats (felt hats are for autumn races only) and, although “sockless” is on trend, I wear patterned socks to add an extra pop to my look. And there is one personal rule I never break: no white leather shoes.
Now here are some of the absolute essentials, if you forget everything else make sure you at least have these ready to go the day of the big race.
1. The Fragrance
Race-day can be a long day so stay smelling fresh. A good fragrance adds the final touch to your overall look and gives you that extra bit of confidence to be a winner. My favourites are either Bulgari Man or Dolce & Gabbana's Intenso.
Shop Bulgari and Dolce & Gabbana now
2. The Details
The right belt and the right watch give you a polished and sophisticated finish. A man always looks classier when he looks at his watch when asked the time as oppose to his phone. The right belt keeps your shirt perfectly tucked and makes sure you have a clean line dividing your top and bottom halves. You can't go past a classic Hugo Boss belt. For the watch - keep it simple, silver goes with any colour suit, Calvin Klein have mastered this look perfectly.
Shop Hugo Boss & Calvin Klein now
3. The French Cuff
For weddings and races a French cuff is a must. Cuff-links are by far the best way for a man to accessorise his suiting look, it adds finesse and brings your game to a whole other level. When it comes to cuff-links Gucci is the way to go.
Shop Gucci now
4. Keep your feet firmly on the ground
You're going to be standing and cheering and moving about so your footwear is key. My recommendation is Ted Baker - classic, comfortable and stylish, these shoes won't let you down.
Shop Ted Baker now
When in doubt remember David Jones offers free personal shopping services and styling, making sure you look spotless head-to-toe. For more information on these and more in-store services click here
Words by Nick Smith