Spring has well and truly sprung, bringing with it another racing season. The annual Caulfield Cup Carnival kicks things off, where champagne, canapés and, importantly, fashion reign supreme.
There’s a particular dress code you’ll only find trackside – it’s time to pull out all the stops, because this year it’s all about bold, loud and maximalist trends. But putting together an ensemble isn’t always an easy feat.
To make things easier, celebrity stylist and this year’s Caulfield Cup Carnival Style Stakes ambassador Lana Wilkinson shares the raceside trends to adopt, insider tips on how to be comfortable while staying classy, her go-to designers and a peak into what you’ll find her wearing come race day.
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Throwback to the ’90s
Nineties silhouettes will be rampant at Caulfield Cup Carnival, according to Wilkinson. “Go back and watch your favourite ’90s shows to get a feel for those fashion moments,” she says. Think structured shoulders, cinched-in waistlines that “accentuate the female form in all shapes and sizes”, oversized sunglasses, big earrings, and chunky bangles. Noah the Label and Anna Rossi Jewellery are Wilkinson’s favourites when it comes to accessorising a look with statement pieces.
There’ll also be a melding of traditional and contemporary styles. “I think we’re going to see a lot of big gloves and that old-Hollywood look, but it’ll be styled in a really modern way,” she says.
“The races are a time to really have fun and experiment,” says Wilkinson. “But obviously we understand that it’s racewear – we’re not dressing up to go to a nightclub when we get down to the track.”
Clashing prints and vibrant hues are encouraged, along with the skilful art of colour-blocking. “You’ll be seeing me wearing a lot of colour – I’m definitely a more is more, glam sort of girl,” says Wilkinson.
Of course, most race looks need a bit of headwear to be complete. This season, the stylist is big on wide-brim hats reminiscent of luxury designer Schiaparelli as well as turbans as seen most recently on the Gucci runway. “If you want you can wear a printed turban with a bold colour-clash print dress, and everybody’s going to be about it,” she says.
If it’s not the ’90s then it will be ’60s mod fashion in the limelight. Typified by minidresses and skirts, clean cuts and lines, slim-fit suits, penny loafers and geometric shapes, the minimalist yet playful nature of this style might be something to opt for.
Though fashion lies at the forefront of racing season, being mindful of our consumption is equally important. “You might have something in your wardrobe that you can rewear. Dust off the things you’ve packed away and style them differently,” says Wilkinson. “It’s about embracing and reimagining your own outfits and sense of style.”
Be comfortable, be you
Race days can be long, calling for moments of comfort. Wilkinson’s best tip is to “make sure your heel height works for you”. “Never take your shoes off,” is the first rule.
With Melbourne’s unpredictable weather, carrying a trench coat is another essential. It’s lightweight, making it easy to carry around while the sun is out or layer over dresses and suits when the weather calls.
While it’s good to keep trends in mind, “it’s really important not to follow the ones that don’t serve you. Make sure you’re wearing something that makes you feel like the best version of yourself and show off the parts that you love,” she says. “The way you feel about yourself, whether you like it or not, is what you’ll project, so put your best foot forward.”
Designers to look out for
For fashion, Toni Maticevski is Wilkinson’s go-to when it comes to quality tailoring and design. Other established Australian designers such as Camilla and Marc, Scanlan Theodore, Christopher Esber, Bec & Bridge, Effie Kats and Manning Cartel are names that Wilkinson will be leaning on this year to dress clients as well as for her own looks.
When it comes to headwear (or millinery), there’s one obvious choice for Wilkinson. “Stephanie Spencer in my opinion is probably one of the most premium milliners in the country,” she says. “I’m going to be working with her, and at the moment she’s playing with chains and multicoloured straws on hats and really elevating the way millinery is seen.”
Tickets to the 2023 Caulfield Cup Carnival are on sale now.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Melbourne Racing Club. The full program for the Caulfield Spring Finale has been announced, featuring headliner Hayden James. Tickets are available now.