11/10/2016
Don’t you dare take those shoes off.

Words by

Alyce Cowell

Ah, the races. Is there a more magical event on the social calendar? We buy our tickets, get our hair did, plan our outfits in meticulous detail. 

We’re mature, alcohol-withstanding, modest ladies. 

And then, before you know it, our skirt is around our neck, we’re making out with a guy in white shoes and a fedora named Troy and someone is taking our picture that probably-most-definitely works for the local newspaper. 

So before you get ready for the Spring Racing Carnival this year, ask yourself: do I want to be chic as f*ck, or do I want to be the drunk aunty on TV flashing everyone my Spanx and throwing plastic chairs at people?

Rectify these nine problems, stat. 

1. Dressing for da cluuurb instead of the race track

Try to remember that dressing for the races and for the club isn’t the same thing. In fact, try to remember they’re complete opposites and if you look like a teenage girl on Halloween, you’re doing it wrong. 

This applies to, but is not limited to: micro-mini skirts and dresses, midriffs, boob-flashing plunging necklines and crack-bearing backless numbers. 

And remember: if you need Hollywood tape to hold yourself in, is it really a good idea?

2. Taking your shoes off – at any point

Repeat after me: I solemnly swear, by the power vested in me by the Fashion Gods, that I will, under no circumstances, remove my footwear, at any point. 

Not if the balls of my feet are on fire. Not if I break my ankle. Not if I’m so drunk I think my shoe is a phone. 

You can eliminate this possibility by:

  • choosing a comfortable pair with a low, square heel;
  • avoiding brand new shoes;
  • carrying a pair of foldable flats in your clutch; or
  • popping in Party Feet before you get too twisted.

3. Not wearing headwear

While planning your spring racing lewk, you might be wondering if you can get away with not wearing headwear. You just aren’t a hat person – surely the races will understand?

Unfortunately, no, the races will not understand. Headwear is a must and these days there are so many options, you don’t really have an excuse. 

If an extravagant hat isn’t your jam, try a straw boater, embellished headband or hair comb. Basically, anything but a pointless feather stuck to the side of your head.

It’s just one day, so wear the shit out of that headpiece and at least pretend you’re enjoying it, OK?

4. Not adhering to the damn dress code

Hey, listen up! 

The dress code is there for a reason – mostly because a lot of women can’t seem to get past Step #1 and arrive in a bandage dress – but also because it’s an age-old tradition. Women have been adhering to the guidelines for decades – who the hell are you to mess it up?

(Unless, of course, you’re Jean Shrimpton. Then go girl.)

The dress code changes depending on which day you’re attending, so let’s break it down:

  • Derby Day is black and white. Don’t rock up in your hot pink twinsie because you’ll feel like you turned up in fancy dress to a non-fancy dress party. Or they just won’t let you in and you’ll have to drink your bottle of champagne on the other side of the fence while you watch everyone having a great time. I think.
     
  • Oaks Day is one for the laydeez and traditionally leads to a lot of lace, florals and pastels. Extra long hemlines are encouraged here, to deter all the creeps that came specifically because it’s Ladies Day.
     
  • Melbourne Cup is the big one. Really let your freak flag fly with bright colours, prints and a hat or fascinator that screams WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. 
     
  • Stakes Day is technically Family Day, but it’s also known for us non-child-bearing party-goers as the most casual day of the carnival, so you can get away with something a little more relaxed – think maxi dresses and straw hats. 

5. Letting the team down with your grooming

Makeup is super important on Race Day. Seeing as we’re getting all dolled up, our makeup should be formal too, right? 

Wrong. So wrong. Just like your outfit, avoid anything too “evening” – smoky eyes, thick black liner, intense contouring etc etc. 

The rule of not letting the team down also applies to painting your nails, exfoliating, brushing your hair and moisturising your legs.

6. Taking your chunky af handbag with you

So your outfit is on point, your fascinator is on fleek, and you’re ready to – hang on……… what the hell is that??!! Right there, on your arm!!?! 

Oh, it’s your handbag – the big black tote you carry every single day of your life. No. Not on my watch.

The handbag you choose is just as much part of your outfit as your headwear, so choose something that complements your outfit, is small enough to fit only the essentials, and has a shoulder strap because… well, we all know what happens to clutches when we’re drunk (they die).

7. Wearing chunky boots / stripper stilettos / sneakers 

Similar to your carry-your-entire-life handbag, there’s another accessory that you mustn’t leave as an afterthought: your shoes. 

Chunky boots aren’t welcome at the races and probably don’t match your ladylike outfit anyway. 

Stripper-inspired stilettos are inapprops, not to mention they’re the #1 enemy of grass everywhere. 

And although sneakers with dresses is everyone’s favourite vibe at the moment, you should leave them at home today :(

8. Re: Flower crowns. It’s time to let go. 

It was amazing while it lasted, back in 2012. We had some fun, made a lot of memories and wondered what the hell we wore on our heads before we met. 

But it’s time to let go, OK? 

Here, give it to me. GIVE ME THE FLOWER CROWN. JUST…. LET….. GO. 

9. Wearing champagne / tomato sauce / vomit

I get it, I really do. Champagne is fun. But like Balinese tap water and unaccustomed stomachs, there are some things that just don’t mix. Another one of those things is champagne and drinking in the sun. 

All it takes is a few glasses under those sweet rays before we’re drinking out of the bottle with a straw in one hand, and eating a bucket of hot chips with tomato sauce in the other. 

But SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!! 

This does not end well, and you’ll be wearing said champagne and tomato sauce quicker than you can put your money on the horsey with the prettiest colours. 

So drink responsibly. Wear a cute outfit. Take care of your friends. Try not to stack on. Avoid TV cameras at all costs. And keep those goddamn shoes on!

Illustration by Twylamae.

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