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Melbourne Cup Do’s And Don’ts

By Marilynn McLachlan
1st Nov 2015

melbourne cup, what to wear for the melbourne cup, race day fashion, fashion on the field

The Melbourne Cup is tomorrow and by now you’ve (hopefully) sorted what to wear and where to wear it, but there’s more to the big day than frocks and gloss, and sometimes it takes someone who’s been there, done that, to impart their race day wisdom and help you survive this champagne-fueled day out.

We chatted to young New Zealand swimwear designer Carena West, who has been hitting the racing scene for the last six years, about how to have a fun and stylish day out at the Melbourne Cup Day races. Here are her top do’s and don’ts to make the most of the day.  


Do wear sunscreen (even if it's a cloudy day!).

Do pick up a form guide and have a go at placing a bet—it’s half the fun! If you have no idea where to start, then an EasyBet does all the work for you.

Do check the dress code for hospitality areas. You don't want to be denied entrance because you’re not dressed appropriately. I'm looking at you too, gents…Jeans in many hospitality areas and in the members stand are a big no-no.

Do bring cash with you—the race totes[SM1]  generally only take cash and you will save yourself a lot of waiting in line for withdrawals.

Do drink plenty of water. A full day on your feet drinking alcohol really takes it out of you. I promise you'll thank me in the morning.


Don't drink too fast and end up one of those sad people who don’t make it to see the race itself. Pace yourself, people!

Don't be that person and take your shoes off, ever. If you make the mistake of wearing brand new shoes to the races and can no longer stand, then convince someone to carry you to a cab home.

Don't get down if your bet doesn't end up a winner. You’re there to have fun, not to make money! Think of the bets you’ve placed as money well spent on having a good time, like a nice glass of champagne…If you pick a winner then that's a bonus!

Don't be inconsiderate to other race goers and their right to a view. If you have a huge hat don't block the track. Manners are important!

And, finally, don't try and jump onto the racetrack and pretend to be a horse. Someone I know did that once and it didn’t work out well.

Tips for Melbourne Cup Style

Melbourne Cup Day is one of the most glamorous days on the racing calendar—some women plan their outfits up to a year in advance! (Crazy!) But don’t forget to have fun when you’re getting dressed—incorporate some colour into your outfit and wear something you feel relaxed and confident in.

Ditch the cheap, fluffy fascinators and make the most of the day with a striking headpiece or hat. There is a huge range of milliners out there, and you can find one to fit into any budget. My personal favourite are the hats made by Claire Hahn Costume.

Pack a mini kit of essentials. You will never regret bringing along some Panadol and blister blockers, and even if you don't need them yourself you could be someone's saviour. 

Do keep your makeup minimal and chic. It needs to last all day and starting with a natural look will help you out in the long run. Don't forget to pack your lipstick and some powder for touchups, too.

Do consider the weather when you are getting ready. The racetrack can be a windy, cold place at times. So if the weather isn't looking too crash hot you may want to consider an up-do (So you don't have a flyaway mane all day) and a jacket. 

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