Our Get The Look Spring Racing Special from the current Spring 2017 issue of Men’s Style.
Those who collect back issues of this now 14-year-old title need only take a brief look back at how we’ve covered menswear for Spring Racing over the years to be made aware of how much it’s progressed.
From a relatively uninspiring dark suit relieved only by a splash (and possibly clashing) colour on the tie, these days we see men embrace a range of colours, textures and patterns in their suiting, while many will also go the Full Dandy for one of the big days.
Whichever your preference we’ve attempted to cover all bases in this special guide to dressing for the 2017 race season, while keeping in mind the etiquette of the various days which a gentleman, obviously, needs to respect and observe.
Classic, elegant, understated – these are the words you want people using when describing your Derby Day outfit, with black-and-white the key theme. A Geoffrey Beene suit, available at David Jones, offers that classicism in cut and styling you need for this more traditional of days. Once you have the suit – say the Geoffrey Beene ‘Kennedy’ – you have the foundation on which you can build a more rounded, finished look through your tie, watch and other accessories.
If the socials pics of the past couple of years are any guide, the checked suit is the most prominent and enduring suiting trend of recent Spring racing carnivals. Paired back with a bolder patterned tie and pocket square (or spots) and your other preferred accessories, and you have a sharp, contemporary take on racewear. Balancing classic cuts with of-the-moment style, Ben Sherman is always a sure and affordable option.
The famously eccentric British brand will help set you apart from the crowd with its range of sharp, more directional suits. Bolder checks, tartans, unique detailing on pockets and buttons all go into the creation of a more personal style. And waistcoats! Add a matching waistcoat and really bring some funked-up formality to the day.
Polo Ralph Lauren
The biggest day of the carnival has become a bit of a free-for-all, in fashion terms, over the years. If you want to stand apart from the lairiness of shiny grey suits and tan Derbys, the faultlessly preppy style of Polo Ralph Lauren is as good as an insurance policy when you want to look cool, classic and well turned out. With navy as your base, add interest with the colour and patterning of your shirt, tie, pocket kerchief and other accessories. Consider separates – white or stone-coloured trousers – to add a Great Gatsby like effect to your overall look, you dashing devil.
The homegrown brand from Melbourne is producing an increasingly sophisticated suiting range, as this beautiful double-breasted check suit attests. For when you want to convey ‘dapper gentleman’ rather than ‘party animal in a suit’, this is the look you want to achieve.
Getting ready for Spring racing does not have to mean a fatal blow to the account balance, and nor should it. High street men’s outfitter yd. produce a wide variety of suits in solid, masculine colours, generally of a slimmer fit, from which to work off in creating a fresh, well-fitted race day look.
Etiquette of the days
Derby Day, November 4
Derby Day is the occasion for the classic dressers and those with a love of tradition. Black and white is the etiquette, though of course you can take some liberty with, for example, a Prince of Wales check that features a red or blue in the pattern. Accessorise with more checks, spots and stripes to bring some glamour and uniqueness to the look. A blue cornflower is correct etiquette for your lapel, which gives you a colour to play off with your pocket square.
Melbourne Cup Day, November 7
The biggest day of the carnival has increasingly become an occasion for the bold and sometimes garish to make a statement. The sheer weight of numbers means it’s something of a fashion all-sorts but keep your styling modern, sharp and coherent. For those unsure, we recommend you pick one basic colour and work around it with suitably complementary colours for tie and pocket square. A yellow rose on the lapel, please.
Oaks Day, November 9
Traditionally the Carnival’s Ladies Day, if you’re single or you just like the fairer sex looking at you, Oaks Day is the time to make a real effort. Start with navy as your base and add accessories to achieve a bold and eye-catching look. A dash of pink – your shirt, tie or pocket square – always attracts the eye of a woman, which fits nicely with the pink rose traditionally worn on the lapel on this race day.
Stakes Day, November 11
The final day of the Flemington race carnival, Stakes Day is a more relaxed affair where you can free yourself from some of the more traditional codes of the racing season’s other days. Having said that, a classic suit in a traditional colour with a bolder shirt and/or tie combination and a complementary pocket hanky will ensure you can’t go wrong, style-wise.
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Men’s Style.