Spring Racing Carnival and Melbourne Cup – Racewear Rules


Is it racewear? Your guide on what to wear to the spring racing carnival


What Not to Wear to the Melbourne Cup or to the Spring Racing Carnival

Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse race in Australia and a day that has become a public holiday in Melbourne (yep, that’s how big it is).

After years of racegoers becoming less and less well dressed,  there is a push this year to redefine racewear in a modern, but still appropriate sense.

The rules include:

  • If you’d wear it to a nightclub, it’s probably not appropriate for the races, avoid too many sparkles, too short and definitely no midriff or too much cleavage.
  • If it’s strapless, or spaghetti strapped, don’t wear it.
  • Keep spray tans to a minimum, orange skin is not pretty.
  • Thigh high splits in skirts and dresses are a no-no
  • Remember it can be windy, so make sure your underwear is not too revealing, and that your hat stays in place.
  • Headwear is a must, but you’ll be wearing it all day, make sure it doesn’t give you a headache.

Racewear is best when it is pretty and feminine – think garden party not dance party.

What to Wear to the Melbourne Cup

What to Wear Spring Racing and Melbourne Cup

One Dress, Four Ways at the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival

Spring Racing Carnival Headwear Tips

What to Wear to the Spring Racing Carnival

What to Wear to the Spring Racing Carnival

How to Choose a Hat to Flatter



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  • Oh, I wish I was there. I LOVE horse racing! It would be like our Kentucky Derby. Which, I my humble opinion, should be a holiday!

  • Hi Imogen,

    Chris Owen put me onto your blog. Not sure if you remember me but I was in the playgroup at Clifton Hill. Great to see someone I know if real life in the blogoshere! I just started following you on twitter as well. You can find me there as @planningqueen Have added your blog to my reader and look forward to reading your style tips.

  • Oh I am so sad that I won't be back in Melbourne for this…. its such an amazing atmosphere even if you're not going! Maybe they are trying to get the rules of dressing there back to something like Ascot here in UK? Quite strict at times especially if you are lucky enough to be going into the Royal Enclosure!

  • I'm not even a fan of horse racing but there's nothing like an event where you are supposed to wear a wild hat.
    I would love to go to the Melboune Cup, Ascot, the Prix de Diane or the Kentucky Derby just to see the hats.

  • I think that you meant "your underwear is not revealed" ?
    Or will they not let me in if I'm wearing strings instead of Granny panties ? 😉

    (I was going to write 'thongs' instead of 'strings', but then I remembered that thongs are a kind of footwear in Australia… a foreigner once saw "no thongs" on an Aussie invitation, and responded : "how will they know whether I'm wearing a thong ?" )

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