So you want to go to the races?

Gamble less, drink better Champagne and look good doing it. If you can’t adhere to these three simple rules then one) why bother? And two) don’t bother.

Honestly, I bet like a girl, but I prefer it that way. I don’t care enough about gambling to take it too seriously and I do it so infrequently that why not have some fun? I don’t have a bookie or an inside man for quick tips and I don’t speak the code of the track. So when something familiar pops up, like Jimmy Crack Corn, I take it as a sign. Of course it means nothing but I’m Jimmy and this delightful two-year-old at 60-1 is Jimmy. What can go wrong? I had hunch and he sounded like a good horse.

Done, five dollars on Jimmy Crack Corn please.

Actually, even that scenario seems a little far-fetched. I bet maybe once a year – on the Melbourne Cup – and even then you’d be lucky to find me outside of a sweep. Two dollars is enough thank you very much and we’ll best leave the winning to fate.

One thing best not left to fate is your wardrobe. If you plan on attending more than one event this racing calendar, you will need more than one outfit. Crazy isn’t it?

Spend twice as much, half the time on everything. Your suits will hang better, your dresses won’t melt in the sun or close to a cigarette, and your feet will thank you. The rule here is the poor man pays twice, so invest in quality.

If you wear suits during the week and they’re nice suits that you feel good in and are proud to wear – not pseudo uniforms that you shed like yesterday’s news when you get home – then you’re in great shape. If you’re a blank canvas and this is either your first trip to the races or your first suit (or both), well, I envy you. This is virginal territory, a great place to be: the excitement, the anticipation and the inevitable disappointment.

So some advice for the men: Blue is the colour you’re after, not a navy, but blue. No more cheap, pale grey or sandy beige stripes. No more pointy shoes in white or fake skin, or any skin for that matter. Sophisticated palettes for sophisticated people.

Paul Smith is calling his version Cadet Blue and worn in a great cloth with a lilac or pale pink shirt it will have the ladies preening for your attention. It’s a stand-up look that is perfect for all occasions and the inevitable invitations that will be extended your way. Finish with tan brogues and you’ve got yourself a look that’s upbeat and won’t appear as business, but instead say that you mean business.

For the ladies, I’m calling on you all to be smart about shoe choice. For one, heels look amazing and will make any outfit better, but I don’t want to see any of you walking home with them in your hand – it says things I don’t want to know about you. A short dress is fashionable, but too short is questionable; questionable style and questionable taste and if any man is questioning those things about you, you got it wrong. The races is about being a lady and enjoying it. It’s about peacocking and getting attention because you’re looking your very best. Not because we can see where your spray-tan ends and your underwear starts or the fact your cleavage is visible at ten paces. You shouldn’t be selling it and we’re certainly not buying it!

A good tip is to imagine that you have an event to attend after the races. That way you can set a pace for the afternoon. Downing a bottle of champagne or a six-pack before lunch just to “get it out of the way” isn’t the best-laid plan. It’s a long day and you don’t want to be ‘that’ guy. There’s always one or two of you that lets the team down, however, so if it’s not you be chivalrous and look after your friends. You’d be surprised where that might lead.

Be the envy of everyone. Be organised. If you can’t get into a marquee or forgot to organise a car park then go prepared. Take a lunch and snacks, host your own party and start your own traditions. Leave the silver pillows at home, bring an umbrella or two and plenty of blankets to rest on.

Going to the races is a lesson; you will make mistakes, but like a phoenix from the ashes you’ll emerge a stronger, better you, lessons learnt and wisdom gained.