One of the big spring racing events on the calendar is Derby Day. The dress code is black and white which lends itself to a sleek and sophisticated ensemble. I’m a huge fan of a monochrome look so always love pulling together outfits for this particular day. It’s also a great exercise in how elevated details and textures can make understated shades pop.
Dresses and Jumpsuits
Whether it’s classic and elegant, a subtle print or floaty and feminine, a dress or jumpsuit in monochrome makes for a striking look.
Elevate a subdued colour palette of black and white with luxe finishing touches and fashion forward silhouettes.
Keep your headwear understated and chic. An oversized bow, a crisp white boater or a fine veil will make the ideal finishing touch to your outfit.
A great shoe is a must for a winning spring racing look, and zeroing in on the perfect pair every year is high on my list of things to do. I always take into account what will work with my outfit but also how long I’ll be able to wear them. The latter is probably the most important as per proper racing etiquette you should always keep your shoes on till the very end! And this year, we’ve never been more spoilt for shoe options. There are so many designs around now incorporating everything from jaw-dropping embellishments, intricate detailing and all the colours of the rainbow. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect heel to match with your outfit, whether it be something vibrant for Melbourne Cup or elegant and monochrome for Derby Day, you’ve come to the right place.
Shop my shoe picks below
There’s no denying the impact of a statement heel. Plus let’s not forget the fact they gives you legs for days. If you’re going to rock a high heel make sure you break them in a few days beforehand to avoid any blister disasters.
This is the comfortable option for those times when you want to wear a heel but can’t face a day in something sky high. You’ll still get all the benefits of a little extra height but it might be a little easier to manoeuvre your way around the track.
In times gone by flats may have been considered to be a little too practical to wear to an event, especially the races but that’s all changed. These days you can now find a flat that’s as much of a showstopper as its heeled counterpart. And the best bit? You’ll be ridiculously comfortable the entire day.
Along with my outfits I like to plan my beauty looks whenever I’m off to a big spring racing event. Hair and makeup is often the final finishing touch that can make or break a look so generally I like to have an idea of what I’m going to do ahead of time. And this is often based on the colour or colours I’m wearing and also the cut and neckline of my dress—the bolder the look, the less I do in terms of hair and makeup and vice versa.
I think the one thing that’s important to remember about any racing event is that it takes place during the day. This means that whilst you should look polished you should also leave the heavy, ultra glam makeup at home and instead opt for an understated, fresh faced approach. Less is more should be your motto. I always start with a healthy base so I like to treat my skin in the lead up to big events like Derby Day and Melbourne Cup. This means scheduling in a facial (or a few if my skin needs some extra TLC) and really taking care of my skin in the lead up to the event by being religious with my skincare routine and making sure I wear sunscreen to avoid any pigmentation or damage. I’ve always been of the frame of mind that having good skin is the best base you can have.
When it comes to my makeup I tend to wear it quite sparingly. This means I choose one feature to highlight whether it be my eyes or lips. Usually I’ll find myself going for a bold smoky eye and a neutral lip but if I find the outfit I’m wearing needs a little punch then I might go for a colourful lip instead. I stick to neutral tones most of the time as I find it’s a guaranteed way to stop my makeup from competing with my outfit and I tend to favour a lot of mascara to play up my eyes and give them a dramatic effect. Along with my makeup I always ensure that I factor in a mani and pedi in the lead up to a racing event. I always go for either a dark burgundy/wine colour or a light white/pink for a neutral finish, it just depends on the colour I am wearing and what I think will complement it the most. A perfect mani is always a guaranteed shortcut to looking polished so I do this religiously.
I’ve always been quite low maintenance with my hair and generally I don’t stray far from this for racing events. If I’m wearing something with a dramatic neckline that needs to remain the focal point such as a high neck, you’ll either find me with my hair in a sleek low bun or slightly more relaxed bun with a bit more volume at the top. It’s honestly one of the easiest styles I’ve found I can do and it’s always guaranteed to work. If my look is quite simple then I might go for a little more drama with my hair, in which case I’ll wear it down with a slight beachy wave and a little volume. Most of the time I prefer to keep things low key on the beauty front and just let my outfit take centre stage.
Putting together a spring racing look takes loads of time and effort but often headwear can be a last minute consideration. Don’t make this mistake as the right headpiece can actually end up making a look. Case in point: I fell in love with a pink Gucci turban and ended up working last year’s entire Melbourne Cup look around it such was my determination to wear it.
Over the years I’ve tried everything from hats to headbands and turbans and can attest that they were the finishing touch that really elevated my outfit. I find choosing my headwear a fun experience as the sky is the limit when it comes to shapes, textures and styles. I often like to go big and bold and am drawn to pieces that make a statement.
If you’re heading to the races and are on the hunt for the ideal headpiece, then look no further as I’ve rounded up 30 gorgeous options to suit every style.
Option 1: Hats
A beautiful hat is always a classic option but remember straw hats are for spring racing, felt for autumn racing. If you want something a little different, an emerging trend is leather hats which are modern and a bit daring and are a departure from your more traditional options.
I went for a crisp white hat for Derby Day in 2015
Option 2: Headbands
I’ve got a soft spot for headbands as race day headwear as they’re feminine, fun and so easy to wear. I’ve opted for everything from a big bow to jewelled embellishments and even my name over the years and my love affair with this style still endures. The great thing about headbands is that you can extend their wear long after spring racing is over which is a definite plus.
A throwback to last year’s spring racing season. I loved this Gucci headband and its oversized bow dotted with pearls.
Option 3: Go bold
From fascinators to embellished hair clips and my personal fave – the turban I am all for embracing headpieces that are unique with an added element of personality. I’ve worn everything from a turban fashioned out of bronze mesh to a gold wreath in the past and love thinking outside the box when it comes to headwear. This year, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries…
This is the Gucci turban that I centred my entire 2017 Melbourne Cup look around!
Last night I hosted a special dinner at the gorgeous Nobu restaurant at the Crown Resort in Melbourne to celebrate the launch of the Spring Racing Carnival. This is one of my favourite times of the year so I was thrilled to be able to kick it off in such a fun way.
I flew down to Melbourne early in the day and spent the rest of the afternoon prepping and getting ready at my hotel (not a hard ask considering the impressive rooms at the Crown Melbourne). My good friend Nadia Fairfax was also attending the dinner and staying at the hotel so we had a great time getting ready together for the event. My outfit for the evening was classic meets daring, comprising of a crisp white shirt, worked back with a Maticevski skirt that can only be described as a wearable piece of art and Off White heels.
Nobu is one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne so it was exciting to be hosting a dinner there. It was a small event — I’d invited just 30 people, a mixture of friends, family and a few media people. This was great as it gave me the opportunity to catch up with everyone before the craziness of spring racing commences.
As you would expect the food we had was incredible. We were served a Japanese inspired menu of three courses and dessert featuring some truly delicious sushi and sashimi paired with amazing wine. I was in heaven and judging from my guests’ reactions, they were too.
Having my friends and family there, including mum and dad, made the night even better. We had a thoroughly great evening and it has made me more excited to throw myself into spring racing season.
And just like that spring racing is upon us once again. This is always a hectic time of year for me as I have multiple events to juggle which means a number of outfits that I have to co-ordinate. And even though I’ve done it for years, styling just the right outfit can still be a little tricky at times as I have to take into account the dress codes, current trends and staying comfortable throughout the day.
One thing I do try and do every spring carnival is take a few style risks, experiment with different trends and elevate my look in various ways. It’s the perfect time to get dressed up and have a little fun with fashion. If you’re off to a few events, here are a few ways you can take your look next level, whether you’re opting for a bold, colourful ensemble, or a classic look of muted tones such as black and white. Here’s how to stand out in a crowd and pull together a winning outfit.
If you’re doing colour…
A colourful look makes an impactful statement so if you’re doing it, don’t be afraid to go bright and bold. Wearing a striking hue that packs a punch whether it’s shades such as fuchsia, a bright sunshine yellow or a rich green makes for a strong look. Now is the time to get in touch with your inner rainbow and try a few fun colours. I guarantee you’ll turn heads.
With coloured pieces it’s a great idea to also work with different silhouettes to give the look some further depth. A dramatic neckline, an elegant split or statement sleeves are all elements that can take your look to another level. The dress I’m wearing below works a vibrant pink with a Victorian neckline and an understated balloon sleeve and gives it a modern, yet classic feel.
It’s important to let your outfit take centre stage but that doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect your accessories. Quite the contrary. The right complementary pieces will enhance your look not detract from it. Headwear is a must at all racing events, so it’s a crucial component of your look. When wearing colour try having fun with your headpiece, incorporating texture and subtle embellishments.. My go-to is a great headband which is understated yet still hold its own, such as the star one I am wearing below. Other options I like include a straw hat or a beautiful turban, both of which I’ve worn in the past. Accoutrements should be the final finishing touch that completes your look.
When you’re doing slightly more muted tones such as black and white, it’s important to try and be a little more daring with the style and finishing touches to help elevate it. The black dress I’m wearing below features an on trend off the shoulder neckline, a textured finish along with a dramatic ruffled effect, all elements that that make it look far from an ordinary LBD. It’s a fun spring racing ensemble but with contemporary touches that make it stand out.
With black you can incorporate the colour head to toe, by wearing black accessories too, but choose pieces that have a little more edge to them to give the look some added depth. In the looks below I’m wearing two different headpieces, both of which are strong pieces in their own way. One is a beret which I feel gives the look a bit of a stylish edge, and adds an unexpected element to my ensemble, the other is an oversized bow headband which has a more playful feminine feel. Both are a great example of experimenting with headpieces—when you’re wearing black you have to ensure that your headwear is a knockout so the look doesn’t present flat.
Muted shades that are guaranteed to work—they’re classic, strong and have presence but it’s important to elevate them with the right finishes and accoutrements. By adding these touches, you are able to turn them into something that’s striking and different, whilst maintaining their general classic feel.
Derby Day is a family affair for me every year as we all fly down to Melbourne for the event. Luke and the girls and I usually stay at my parents’ apartment whilst my brother, his wife and their kids stay nearby. It’s almost always a full house on the morning of Derby Day and Melbourne Cup as we all get ready together. The kids love it as they can watch as we get our hair and makeup done and see the adults get all dressed up.
As a Lexus ambassador, I’m usually lucky enough to be picked up by a Lexus car and driver on the day and driven to Flemington. Luke and I made our way over together and as soon as I got to the race course it was straight into radio and TV interviews which took up a fair bit of time. Lucky I’m able to head over to the Lexus Design Pavilion in the Bird Cage throughout the day to have a little breather. The three-level site has been designed by sustainable artist Joost Bakker and as expected it was next-level. The flowers, the decor, the furniture it was all seriously on point. We’re usually treated to a spectacular lunch too and this year the menu was curated by Ben Shewry of Attica so I was beyond happy to sit down and enjoy a meal after the busy morning I had had. It was also great to catch up with friends like Anthony Minichiello who was also there as a fellow Lexus ambassador.
The day as it always does goes by really quickly. As soon as the event is over it’s usually home then out again for dinner with friends…
When it came time to celebrate the start of spring and spring racing season with Net-a-Porter in Melbourne, I wanted a look that was classic and understated. Enter this white Miu Miu dress. I really loved the simple v-neckline and most especially the bow which is always a sweet finishing touch. Also I don’t know about you but I always love a dress with pockets—it’s definitely an underrated feature! I wanted to maintain the simplicity of the outfit so opted for a monochrome colour palette by pairing the dress with my black Alaïa heels. It’s definitely a combination that I can see myself wearing again and becoming a go-to ensemble for events that require a look that’s unfussy and polished.
I’ve lost count of how many spring racing looks I’ve had to pull together over the years but if there’s one thing that’s a constant it’s that I’ve got a few key rules I stick to. It not only makes it easier to zero in on the perfect outfit it also ensures that I am able to adhere to the dress code for each race day event with minimal fuss. If you’re planning to head to the races this spring carnival you may fall into two camps: colour or muted tones such as black and white. I always like to mix it up so I’ve done both multiple times and either can be a standout option—it’s just a matter of keeping in mind a few crucial style and beauty elements…
How to do colour
If there’s one day to go all out with vibrant colour it’s Melbourne Cup day. It’s the one day of the spring racing calendar where it pays to be a bit daring and embrace bold hues such as pinks, yellows and purples. The more striking the better! When it comes to Oaks Day you’ll want to dial it down and embrace feminine hues—pretty pastels are always a winner or do florals if you want to go with a print.
The important thing to keep in mind when you’re doing colour is that your accessories should complement not compete with your outfit. Headwear is a must at all race day events and if you’re doing colour a great choice would be an elegant headband (such as what I have in my outfit below) or crown for something fashion forward. A straw boater is great for something a little more traditional. It’s better to go for a simple, classic headpiece as opposed to being too over the top—way too many embellishments can really make your outfit look dated. Invest in the best quality headwear you can as it can really be the finishing touch that elevates your look from so-so to sensational.
When it comes to handbags it’s best to carry a clutch or a small bag with a strap. Leave your big carryall at home! You can either go for an equally bold colour or dramatic features such as metallic accents or a textured finish.
If there’s one day on which you must wear black or white (or both!) it’s Derby Day. I’ve often either opted for an all white look or an all black look as I find it’s more impactful as a top to toe ensemble. However the one thing both have in common is that in order for the outfit not to look flat there have to be textural elements and also a hint of contrasting colour with your accessories. In the case of my outfit below the ruching on the dress adds another dimension to the overall look, the same goes for my shoes which have a studded feature.
Monochrome accessories are often the easiest to work with as both colours are generally able to be worked back with a multitude of looks. Generally headbands work well when in a black and white colourway and are a great option for headwear as you’ll definitely be able to use it again. This season there are so many beautiful headband options with accents such as bows, flowers and pearls (such is the case with mine below) that you’re bound to find one to suit. You could also opt for a turban or a veiled headpiece for something a little more dramatic.
When it comes to your bag choice for a monochrome look keep it strictly black or white for Derby Day but on other days you may want to experiment with a little pop of colour or embellishment.
The most important thing to remember about a spring racing beauty look is that it’s a day event. So leave the ultra glam makeup for a big night out and instead opt for a fresh faced approach. I like to focus on having good skin on the day so ensure that I am sticking religiously to my skincare regimen and may even have a facial in the lead up to it to ensure my complexion is glowing. I find if you’ve got great skin as a base your makeup will sit well. Most of my routine involves at-home treatments, one in particular that I am loving is the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask which helps to reduce pores and brighten dull skin. If I find my skin is looking a little puffy I always use Anne Semonin Eye Express Radiance Ice Cubes which helps to tighten skin and reduce puffiness (it’s perfect in the lead up to a big event).
With spring racing beauty I think it’s important to look polished yet still very natural. In this instance I went for a bold eye and a neutral lip (I always choose one feature to highlight, never both) which I found complemented both outfits. To ensure my makeup lasts all day I use Kevyn Aucoin The Primed Skin Developer which is a nourishing serum that acts as the ideal base for makeup. I will always use a highlighter and a subtle bronzer to achieve glowing skin and accentuate my features, and I find both work well in the daytime. Lashings of mascara are always a part of any dramatic eye look I do and at the moment I really like Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara in Noir—it gives a great falsh lash effect. As the final finishing touch I have a mani and pedi and either go for a dark polish to add a bit of punch to an outfit or a neutral shade for a subtle, understated effect.
This year, my day started early at our apartment in Melbourne. That is where we stay with my family so it was great to be able to spend Cup Day with them. With three kids and a baby present it was certainly busy but it was nice that my girls and my niece and nephew were all with us. I spent the morning getting ready with Mum and my sister-in-law Hoda and as always it was fun for us to all get our hair and makeup done together. My outfit was already sorted (it’s always something I like to lock in well in advance) so it was just a matter of putting the final finishing touches to it and I was ready to walk out the door.
We were lucky enough to be picked up by a Lexus car to take us to the Birdcage and when we got there headed straight for the Lexus Design Pavilion, which as per usual was on another level. It was definitely the place to be in the Birdcage and stood out as the most stylish and sophisticated marquee. The interiors were amazing and the architecture of the entire building was striking. Guests in the Pavilion included Jessica Gomes, Emma Freedman and Margaret Zhang so it was a great opportunity to catch up with a lot of people. We had an amazing lunch experience in there too which involved a three course tasting plate hosted by Ben Shewry, the head chef and owner of Attica restaurant in Melbourne. Needless to say, the food was delicious.
I was also on Lexus ambassador duties on the day so I had to juggle multiple media interviews including TV and radio spots which is always fun! However the most enjoyable part of the day is definitely being able to watch the race with my family, Mum especially. She had a runner in the race called Excess Knowledge so we watched the it with her in the owners’ stand. It’s always really nice being able to take in the race with her as I know all the hard work that goes into making it to the Melbourne Cup.
Cup Day is always a crazy busy day and it often passes by in a whirlwind of admiring all the beautiful outfits and headwear, toasting the day with champagne and race day duties for me but it’s something I look forward to every year. Counting down to 2017!
Getting dolled up with the help of my go-to makeup artist Blanka Dudas
Test driving my Gucci heels
Selfie for Instagram
Sophia hanging out in the apartment
Outfit details close up
All smiles with Mum and Hoda
Heading to the Birdcage with a little help from Lexus
Walking in with Luke
Catching up with Nadia Fairfax
Doing a radio interview
… and more interviews!
The media at the Lexus Design Pavilion
A peek at the interiors inside the Lexus Design Pavilion
So many beautiful finishes
Impressive set of wheels on display!
The outdoor area
We were truly spoilt in the food and drinks department