Kick up your heels (figuratively) and raise a glass (by the stem, of course) – the most spectacular event of the racing and social calendars kicks off this month on Cellarbrations Ladies Day — week one of The BMW Sydney Carnival.
Launching the carnival into full swing, Ladies Day is just as much about you as it is about the horses, offering plenty of excuses to get wined, dined and pampered between races. General Admission will get you access to the Ladies Lounge, Chandon Pop-up bar, live music and giveaways, but if there’s any time to practice restraint, this is not it. Serious punters can dine al fresco at the Ascot Club with its views of the entire course, while the Grand Pavilion’s Ladies Long Lunch will see you rub shoulders with Sydney's elite. For a bit more fresh air and leg room, a deluxe picnic hamper for four or more guests might be more your jam. Just remember your table manners, even when you’re eating on the ground: Glass by the stem, chew with your mouth closed, and only use your fingers for finger food.
Ladies Day also plays host to the much-anticipated MYER Fashions on the Field on the Figree Lawn – the sartorial highlight of the racing calendar, with the Women's Racewear and Millinery Award categories offering over $20,000 in prizes from partners including MYER, Sunday Style, Qualia Resort, Virgin Holidays, Antler Luggage, Moet & Chandon and more. Of course, that means the day is also a cause for much stressing over how to stand out from the competition while paying due respect to tradition.
The first thing to remember is that trackside trends are different than runway trends. So while it’s fine to pull from your favorite parts of fashion month, crop tops are probably not going to fly with the judges (a good rule of thumb is not to wear anything your grandmother would balk at). But the stable of Australian designers (and incessantly stylish MYER ambassador Laura Dundovic, above) have got you covered.
One of the biggest trends this race season is also one of the easiest to pull off: monochrome. Black and white can be done in floral, stripes or chevrons, or choose a block white by Wayne Cooper dress and save the buzzier print for your clutch or heels. For something more daring, channel a trackside Carmen Sandiego in a bold shade of red, or mix up your textures by incorporating some leather. Jane Lamerton and Basque are both offering vibrant scarlets this season, while mixing in some animal print with your leather will guarantee you an edge over the competition.
Moody florals are also a winner this season — MYER designers Jayson Brunsdon, Black Label, Wayne by Wayne Cooper and Leona by Leona Edmiston offer up bouquets of delicate yet deep prints that score points for cropping up outside of spring (Miranda Priestly would approve). Florals can also be incorporated into a piece of garland-like millinery à la Laura Dundovic — something on your head is essential on Ladies Day, but don’t wear a hat so OTT that you risk taking someone’s eye out. Dundovic (above) paired her floral headwear with a block-colored green dress and delicate hues of makeup, while sticking to simple accessories in patent black. See more on how to get Laura's look below.
And our favorite trend for this race season? Comfort. Everything in moderation, of course, but how you feel in your outfit really affects your general mien. Wear new shoes around the house first to make sure they agree with your feet, pay attention to the climate and the weather forecast (goosebumps aren’t a great accessory) and make sure you don’t feel like Cressida dressed as Kate. It’s all about choosing trends that work with your own individual style.
Last but not least, a glass of cold champagne is a great accessory. But you don’t need to be holding one in every single Instagram shot – gates open at 11 a.m., so pace yourself if don’t want to be stricken by the dreaded 3 p.m. hangover.
1. Ted Baker Structure Waist Dress ($349) from David Jones; 2. Tony Bianco Petro Black Sandal ($149.95) from Myer; 3. Peeptoe Hexagon Clutch ($41.30) from Myer; 4. Over My Head Floral Hair Crown ($60) from The Iconic; 5. DéVine Goddess Lipstick in Nymphe ($25) from Napoleon Perdis; 6. Butter London Nail Polish in Diamond Geezer ($22) from Adore Beauty.
Cellarbrations Ladies Day takes place at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse NSW on Saturday 22 March. Save $5 if you pre-purchase tickets online at theraces.com.au.
Sponsored by The 2014 BMW Sydney Carnival