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What to Wear to the Melbourne Cup This Year (2024)

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is one of the most anticipated events on the fashion calendar. Spanning across four days, the carnival is as much about extravagant styling as it is about horse racing.

We’ll admit we love our comfy matching trackie sets and athleisure looks day-to-day. This makes going all out on one day of the year all the more enticing.

Melbourne Cup Day is the most iconic of the four days for both the racing and the fashion; it’s the day where celebrities, media personalities, and influencers alike flood your social feeds in bright outfits and statement headwear.

If you’ve scored yourself a ticket to the race that stops the nation, you’ll be looking for an outfit that does the very same thing. Let’s take a look at what to wear to the Melbourne Cup this year.

What to Wear to the Races

As we mentioned, the Melbourne Cup Carnival is actually broken down into four events: Derby Day, Melbourne Cup Day, Oaks Day, and Stakes Day.

Each day has it’s own dress code or ‘theme’ that patrons must adhere to, though all of the Melbourne Cup Carnival days strictly ban a number of clothing items, including jeans, torn clothing, casual footwear, shorts, leggings, and caps. Click here for the full list of prohibited clothing items.

We have previously explored what to wear to the spring races but in this guide we’ll be focusing on Melbourne Cup Day. Let’s take a quick look at what you can expect fashion-wise from each of the other race days.

What to Wear to the Melbourne Cup

Now, to the main event.

Melbourne Cup is the event of the week. The day celebrates all-out glamour and head-turning looks, so don’t shy away from pieces that make a statement!

Below, we unpack the elements that make for an unforgettable Melbourne Cup Day look.

Trackside Trends 2022


For our colour-loving friends, Melbourne Cup Day is a dream.

The event calls for bright and bold hues that spark joy. So, move away from black, grey, navy, and white.

Instead, go for hot pink, glowy orange, citrus yellow, cobalt blue, and lime green.

These shades work brilliantly on their own as a solid block colour for a clean-cut look. Alternatively, consider a geometric print or statement pattern with bold, contrasting colours.

This is the perfect opportunity to experiment with colour. Step outside your comfort zone, go all out and make a statement!


Statement Silhouettes

Statement silhouettes are a hallmark feature of Melbourne Cup Day styling.

Ruching and wrap designs are ideal if you’re after a classically feminine silhouette. These elements help to cinch in the waist and create length in the leg. A flattering silhouette that will have you feeling confident for a day at the races. If you really want to embrace your feminine side, go for bow detailing or a one-shoulder dress. These minor details make all the difference in your outfit and really allow you to experiment with your style.

For a modern edge, look to something with dramatic puff sleeves. Puff sleeves have made their mark in recent years — and they’re not going anywhere.
Statement puff sleeves are over the top in the very best way; they exude glamour and drama. It’s not everyday that a bold puff sleeve dress will be appropriate for where you’re headed, so make the most of the day and lean into the trend!


If you’re looking to channel a slightly more masculine energy, suiting is the way to go. Tailored suits work particularly well for petite frames as they won’t overwhelm the figure.

For taller, curvier silhouettes, we recommend a high-waisted, wide-leg trouser and blazer combo. The high waist line will accentuate your height by drawing the eye down the leg, while the wide-leg shape will flatter and hug your curves. The blazer works to add structure up top.


Colourblocked Accessories

It’s time to consider the accessories that will bring the look together.

If you’ve got a particularly busy outfit on — say, a printed dress — we recommend picking a colour from the outfit and matching your shoes and bag to it. Alternatively, go for neutral-toned heels and a clutch. Keep your jewellery minimal; that is, steer clear of statement earrings or chain necklaces. Go for fine jewellery, if any.

If you’re working with a solid block colour, consider colourblocking your accessories. You could go monochromatic and add accessories that match the colour of your dress. Or, opt for contrasting accessories. For example, if you’re donning a hot pink dress, add cobalt blue shoes and a clutch!

Fascinators and Headpieces

Another way to accessorise your race day dress is to add a fascinator or headpiece. Fascinators are race day attire, so why not wear one when you have the chance? Your headpiece should match a colour in your dress, that is essential. Or if you are wearing a block colour, you could choose contrasting accessories and opt for a bright and bold colour!

Race Day Dresses

Trackside Trends 2022

Derby Day

Derby Day is all about glamorous, structured, and sophisticated styling.

It’s a strictly monochromatic occasion — all attendees must wear only black and white, so save that hot pink number for a later date.

Derby Day is considered the most formal of the carnival days. So, you’ll commonly see structured midi dresses and power suits paired with brim hats and metallic accessories.

Steer clear of overly floaty and airy silhouettes. Instead, go for tailored, clean shapes and classic fabrications.

Keep your accessories in-line with the colour theme and ensure your shoes are grass-friendly (hello, block heels and wedges).

If you’re looking for a pop of colour, go for a bold red lip! The contrast against your all black-and-white outfit will be striking.


View our entire Derby Day collection here.


Oaks Day

Commonly referred to as Ladies Day, Oaks Day calls for classically feminine dressing.

Think soft pastels, dreamy floral prints, and elegant silhouettes.


Oaks Day champions truly chic and sophisticated styling. Outfits should be formal, and polished.

If you’re pretty sure the Royal Family would approve of your outfit, you’re on the right track.

To really embrace the femininity of it all, go for something whimsical. Look to styles with romantic ruffles, delicate lace detailing, puff sleeves, floaty skirting, and lightweight materials. Chiffon, crepe, and pleating all work nicely for Oaks Day. Add a floral fascinator and you’re good to go!

For a more contemporary look, step out in a power suit or pants and top combo in a muted pastel hue. Swap out a lacey or floral fascinator for a chic headband or subtle hair clips instead.


View our entire Oaks Day collection here.


Stakes Day

Stakes Day is the most relaxed of the four events. It’s open to kids and families, so easy and breezy outfitting is the way to go.

However, the dress rules mentioned earlier still apply, so keep your sneakers, denim, and crop tops at home.

At Stakes Day, opt for fun and colourful pieces. We particularly love bold prints, mini dresses with ruffled hems, and dramatic sleeves.

When it comes to shoes, pick something you’ll be comfy in all day — trust us. Kitten heels, mules, block heels, and platform heels are ideal (avoid high stilettos). If heels aren’t for you, ballet flats or chic loafers also work well.

With headwear, anything goes! From oversized hats and lacy fascinators to satin headbands, the choice is yours. Stakes Day is the perfect race day where you can truly experiment with your style and have fun around the not-so-strict dress rules.


View our entire Stakes Day collection here.


Finding Your Race Day Dress

Now that we have covered all the dress codes and race day events, it is now up to you to choose which style is best for you. You can hire all these race day dresses and fascinators for a fraction of the retail price, because why buy a dress you will only wear once to the races? Our convenient hiring service allows you to truly experiment with your style for a day at the races as you have a greater selection of styles to choose from within a much more affordable price range. Having loads of options makes finding your perfect race day dress fun and enjoyable.

Dresses above:


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