The Do’s & Don’ts of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival

[emphasized type=”emphasized”]With Spring Racing well upon us, the count down is on for the Melbourne Cup Spring Racing Carnival. Centred around Melbourne Cup Day, or the “race that stops a nation”, the week is sure to be filled with some of Australia’s most elite profiles showcasing their best outfits in spectacular enclosures: i.e ‘The Birdcage.'[/emphasized]

In particular, all eyes will be on the men who attend this year’s Spring Carnival. Over the last 5 or so years, the men’s fashion stakes at the main racing days (Derby, Melbourne Cup, Oaks & Stakes) have increased in size and strength. Dressing to impress whilst tackling adventurous outfits is to be commended, and it’s refreshing to see men take pride in their looks as well as taking a few risks! For the men who want to be seen (and heard), it really is a “go large or go home” affair.

Teaming up with Hugo Boss, experts in the suit game, we’ve put together an inspiration guide and a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts, setting you up for that podium spot in ‘Fashions on the Field’ at this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.

AAMI Victoria Derby Day

The first race day to kickoff the Melbourne Cup Carnival week, Derby Day, is a black & white affair.

“Derby Day is the day to experiment with patterns and texture to lift a basic black suit to the next level,” Matthew Keighran says, Managing Director of Hugo Boss Australia and Japan.

“Two patterns paired back with one plain will generally keep your outfit stylish.”

Navy has been a popular choice in the past, and often guys think that a colour is the way to go… However, it is very important to abide by the dress code; don’t be that guy that goes against the masses. The flower for Derby Day is a Blue Cornflower, which adds a great touch of colour to any black, white or charcoal blazer.

Photography by James Carroll
Outfit by BOSS


  • Abide by the dress code; BLACK & WHITE, gents.

    T-Leggenox Monk Strap Shoes
  • Mix texture and pattern to set yourself apart; the Hugo Boss textured blazer below adds that little bit extra to the everyday basic jacket.
  • Dress your age. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wearing a shabby old black suit your parents bought you years ago. Make sure you invest in a tailored black or charcoal suit. Peak lapel blazers are a great option.
  • Mix and match your outfit and accessories; think a black jacket, over a charcoal pant with a white
    shirt and striped tie.
  • Make sure your shoes are polished. A lot can be said about a man by looking at his shoes. Opt for a Wingtip brogue or a Hugo Boss double monk strap shoe (featured).


  • Wear colour. If you can hold off until Melbourne Cup, you’ll be thanking us later.
  • Satin is a no-no for Derby Day. Although it is a black and white affair, it isn’t as formal as a ‘black tie’ event
  • Over do it. Keep it classic and cool on Derby Day. Sleek, elegant and tailored.
Reyno/Wave Suit paired back with a knitted tie

Emirates Melbourne Cup Day

The race that stops the nation, and our favourite race day of the week! The Melbourne Cup isn’t only a fun day out, but it’s the most adventurous and fashion-forward of all the race days. This is the day to be more adventurous with colour and pattern, and take a risk with accessories and co-ordination. Keighran suggests “pocket squares, play with fun socks, tie pins, some wrist action (think beads, straps) and of course always consider your shoes – shoes maketh the man as many say!”

If you’re feeling more adventurous, “try some headwear…wider brim styles are in fashion but leave the baseball cap at home!” And we agree! The rose for Melbourne Cup is yellow, so get cracking gents.

Hugo Boss Spring Racing Event 2016


  • Play with colour and pattern! If you need inspiration for your Melbourne Cup outfit, check out some of the combinations used at the Hugo Boss Spring Racing event (above). Jewel tone colours are big at the moment (emerald, ruby, sapphire) as well as earthy/desert neutrals such as smoky grey, beige, taupe and cream.
  • Accessorise! Nothing completes an outfit better. Choose a watch that compliments your outfit (silver with silver, gold with gold; don’t mix and match). Decide whether you are wearing a belt or opting to have side adjusters put onto you pants; don’t go belt-less.
  • Pocket squares are a great accessory, which should compliment your tie and shirt, but never match.
  • Be adventurous! This is the day to turn heads (in a good way)! Windowpane/checks are our favourite patterns this spring carnival, with royal blue a sure crowd pleaser.
  • Be confident! Own the outfit.


  • Look peacock… you know what we mean. It’s very easy to over complicate your outfit with too much
    detail, keep it classy and stylish!
  • Statement pieces are great when worn correctly. If you are going all out, make sure your outfit is tailored and the fit is perfect. Even the smallest of details that isn’t quite right, on a statement outfit, will be accentuated, and not in the way that you would like.
  • Don’t forget your sunglasses.  A great pair of sunglasses coordinated with your Melbourne Cup outfit will bring together your look perfectly.

hb085-images-mens-a5-port3Crown Oaks Day

A day for the ladies. Gents, today is the day to be chivalrous! If heading to Oaks Day with your partner, why not coordinate outfits. Oaks Day has a more relaxed feel to it than Derby or Cup Day, but the outfits are still on point. The rose for Oaks Day is Pink.

Photography by James Carrol
Outfit by BOSS


  • Experiment with suit separates. Perhaps a summer nautical approach pairing a Boss royal blue
    Hugo Boss Stakes Day
    Stanino Pant from BOSS

    blazer with a cream or white chino. Or try a classic Boss combo, all-blue with a navy pin-stripe and pale blue shirt. Oaks Day is fun and also a chance to show off your more relaxed racing style.

  • Play with fabrics; “cotton or linen” suggests Keighran, “make a more relaxed statement and have a very European feel”.
  • Don’t be afraid to wear pink – it’s the day for it!
  • Be courteous.


  • Act a fool. Today is a day for the ladies.
  • Play it safe. Your office may have you under wraps with the corporate life, but have the courage to live a little (Yolo) and make an investment in some colour for the day.
  • Be the standout you were on Melbourne Cup. Oaks Day is a little more relaxed and calls for contemporary, smart-casual looks that show you know how to dress the part for the occasion at hand.

Emirates Stakes Day

The last day of racing of the Melbourne Cup Carnival calendar, and the most relaxed. A day for the family, Stakes day is a fun-filled event which sees many opt for more relaxed styles and tailoring. The colour of the rose of Stakes Day is red.


  • Show off your effortless style: relaxed tailoring is key. Think linen or cotton blazers, neutral tones, paired with a relaxed shirt and chinos. Opt for a plain shirt but play on colour and pattern with your tie and pocket square.
  • Keep your accessories in the same vein as your outfit – think boat shoes, leather watches, linen ties.
  • Have fun! Although the main parties that are known to be thrown during the Melbourne Cup Spring Racing Carnival are done and dusted, Stakes Day is a great day to let the hair hang down and enjoy the surroundings.


  • Dress to the nines. As mentioned, relaxed tailoring is key on Stakes Day. A navy linen Boss blazer with a checked shirt, textured tie and tailored chino with a would look great.
  • Try to out-do what men have done in the previous days. If you wanted to wear that purple three-piece suit with suspenders and a top hat, your ship sailed post-Melbourne Cup
    Hugo BOSS Stakes Day
    T-Hewitt Jacket


The Melbourne Cup Spring Racing Carnival is a glorious week filled with elite profiles, high fashion, luxury parties and some of the world’s best horse racing. Our advice – nail the dress code and wear it with confidence, and among all else, remember to have fun!


Article supported by Hugo Boss 

Tags : fashion