When anyone mentions Spring Racing, a wave of excitement washes over me - and then the wave of panic starts to settle in.

From the outside, Spring Racing looks like a fun day at the races with your close friends, but once I start to mention this year’s festivities, hundreds of questions are asked. “What are you wearing?” “Who’s making your hat?” “Do you know what theme you’re going with?” Fair questions, but questions that make you realise Spring Racing isn’t your typical day out, it’s a business.

Australia’s most prestigious fashion and style contest requires equal amounts of preparation, skill and poise. So what on earth do you wear when the fashion stakes are so high? Here’s my fashion advice on how to put together a winning look for this seasons Spring Racing Carnival.

Key Trends: Popular summer trends to try this season are monochrome (all one colour or black and white), lady-like (shift dresses and longer hemlines), minimalistic (clean lines and no layering), sport luxe and embellished. The 50s and 60s eras with their full circle skirts and lady-like shift dresses are also popular and a particular favourite of mine. It’s about looking classy, not confused.

Hat Trends: Since the release of The Great Gatsby, we’re seeing the return of romantic 1920s-inspired diamond and pearl headpieces. Wide brimmed or boater hats are also a hot trend and will give your look an unexpected and modern edge.

Shoes: The grass is always greener on the other side, and by other side I mean the flat side. Being on your feet all day - on grass nonetheless - will require a pair of comfortable heels, so I highly suggest a pair of wedges, dress sandals, kitten heels or even a pointed flat. We’re seeing flat shoes having a moment so why not be practical and fashionable at the same time?

Jewellery: When it comes to Spring Racing, your hat or fascinator should do all the talking so let this be the statement piece of your outfit and keep the rest of your outfit and accessories simple and elegant. Think fine, dainty or classic jewellery. Minimal never looked so good.

Key Designers: Spring Racing is the perfect time to support local Australian designers. Some of my personal favorites are Zimmermann, Sass & Bide and Dion Lee.

Although it’s called Spring Racing, we’re in Melbourne after all and the weather can be a little unpredictable. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and to drink plenty of water. There’s nothing fashionable about being sunburnt or passing out before noon.

My biggest advice would be to dress for no one but yourself. Many have their eye on the prize of being on the best-dressed list, but in my books, the best dressed aren’t the ones peacocking around the paddock, but the ones who carry themselves with confidence and grace. That’s something even the judges will notice.

Nicole Warne is the Westfield Doncaster Spring/Summer 2013 ambassador.

garypeppergirl.com