It’s that time of year again when it suddenly becomes perfectly normal to see a woman strutting down the street in stilettos, sporting a hat fit for a queen or a plume of feathers placed precariously atop a hairdresser’s perfect French twist.

Whether you go for the champagne and canapés or the horses and history, Spring Racing Carnival is reason enough for everyone to get dressed up, and an even better excuse to splurge on a new dress. Luckily, local retailers know all too well the allure of the races and are happy to provide us with a bevy of frocks and suits to choose from.

So whether you follow tradition with a more classic, demure style or flout the rules with a cute little mini, finding the right outfit to flaunt at Flemington is nothing short of essential. If you still haven’t found the perfect dress or you’ve just been invited to a marquee, here are a few places we recommend for finding that last minute frock.

The epitome of Swedish cool, ACNE offers some experimental yet tasteful pieces with draping and sharp edges in seasonal mustards and oranges, alongside their more muted staples.

Alice Euphemia
Undeniably one of the best boutiques in Melbourne, Alice Euphemia stocks a carefully selected range of local designers including Lover, Ellery, Romance was Born, Dress Up and Amped by Magdalena Velevska.

Known for her beautiful, distinctly feminine dresses, this season Willow has embraced colour with some striking emerald green and tangerine pieces.

Alice Edgeley
Edgeley’s charming Gertrude Street boutique houses her distinctive theatrical collection. And if you can’t find anything quite right, she also makes custom creations (though you might have cut it a bit fine this year).

Obus is a distinctly Melbourne label known for its bright, colourful aesthetic. This season, fun, quirky dresses and skirts inspired by Mexico and Frida Kahlo fill the racks.

Offering a carefully curated section of designers such as Antipodium, Rag & Bone and Therese Rawsthorne, Incu is well worth a look.

Milly Sleeping
With eco ethics, this eclectic boutique is crammed full of designer clothes, including well-known antipodean labels such as Romance was Born, Lonely Hearts and Alexi Freeman, as well as some unique, independent designer finds.

camilla and marc
Bringing some distinctively Sydney glamour to Melbourne at their new Armadale store, camilla and marc offer a great range of classic black and white cocktail dresses that’ll cover you for Derby Day and into the night.

Somebuddy Loves You
Tucked away on Smith Steet, Fitzroy, Somebuddy Loves You is a great little find stocking an impressive range of high-end designers that aren’t that easy to come by, including Karen Walker.

Scanlan & Theodore
Classic and faultless, Scanlan & Thedore is an oldie but always a goodie for almost any occasion.