What to wear to the races

The New Zealand racing season reaches its pinnacle in early March with Auckland Cup week on at Ellerslie Racecourse. It really is a fabulous occasion to embrace the opportunity of getting dolled up and enjoying a day out to spectate the thrilling on-course action, as well as the glamorous happenings off-course. Whether you are a seasoned race attendee or a newcomer to the scene, we have pulled together a few tips and new season inspirations to help you on your way.

The dress code for the Royal Ascot over in the UK have strict rules regarding modest sleeve and  hemline lengths, with headpieces that must have a base of at least 10cm, while in New Zealand the approach is more relaxed, it is still a good guide to aspire to. There is the saying of ‘don’t wear anything you would imagine wearing to a nightclub’ hence inappropriately short, too sheer or heavily sequined designs are not quite suitable. Dressing for a day out at the races calls for ladylike sophistication in your outfit.

Gia gown $429 from Ruby (left) and Garden of live flowers $350 from Trelise Cooper (right)

A statement dress in a gorgeous hue or bold print would look wonderful such as the blush pink ‘Gia’ dress by Ruby or this floral print number by Trelise Cooper both pictured above – it’s not about buying something you will only wear the once, choose something you love and feel comfortable in and would wear again, we here at FashioNZ are proud advocates of choosing well and supporting local businesses.

Fashionable separates are another great option – we love this white top and pink skirt ensemble by Natalie Chan (pictured below) or you could opt for co-ordinating separates such as this scarlet red two-piece look by Ruby (pictured below). Trend-wise, midi length hemlines, a statement sleeve, peek-a-boo shoulders, ruffles and an a-line silhouette are a few options that would work well and be race-wear appropriate. Skirts and dresses are popular but not mandatory; you could also consider a smart trouser suit.

Briar Skirt in Blush Peony $250 by Natalie Chan (left) and Amarene crop top $139 and Amarene skirt $199 from Ruby (right)

Generally, the rule of thumb for Derby Day is to wear black or white (or black and white!) – we love these two lace options, the black by Trelise Cooper and the ivory from Kate Sylvester (note also the fantastic wide belt, a great way to update your look), while Cup Day is more open. Take into account also where you have admission into, being hosted in a tent calls for a more formal elegance as opposed to having general admission on the lawn, where you can afford to be slightly more casual-opting for a wide brim hat would be a smart idea to fend off those powerful sun rays.

All in good waist dress $325 by Trelise Cooper (left) and Simone shirt dress $649 from Kate Sylvester (right)

And of course an outing to the races calls for a fabulous millinery piece, look for a headpiece that compliments the style of your dress, and take into account the balance of your look from head to toe. A heavily printed dress will match best with a simpler headpiece, while with a sleeker outfit you can afford to have a more detailed headpiece. There is a variety of options to choose from; from hats to statement millinery pieces such as headbands, crowns and sculptural pieces, perhaps this over-sized number by Natalie Chan or this striking piece by Monika Neuhauser tickles your fancy?

 Alluring muse hat $900 by Natalie Chan (left) and Queen of the night $360 by Monika Neuhauser (right)

Accessories wise a small box clutch to carry your essentials, a pair of heels that you can comfortably walk in all day (or at least give the illusion of!) and a pair of chic sunglasses will do the trick. Have fun with your jewellery – again if your outfit is busy, opt for daintier pieces while a patternless outfit is a great canvas for a statement piece. Now that you are outfitted from head to toe perhaps you are game enough to give the Fashions in the Field competition a go, luck could be on your side, but don’t forget your most important accessory as you strut down the catwalk – a confident smile!

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