What to wear to Melbourne Cup Carnival?

At White Runway we believe the Spring Racing Carnival should be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. And one thing is certainly true, the more relaxed and comfortable we feel, the more likely we are to have a great time. So that’s why we’ve created one very simple piece of guidance, to come “dressed to feel your best”.

Whether it will be your first time at the Melbourne Cup Carnival and could use some fresh inspiration for this year's outfit, we've put together some top fashion tips to help you look your best. 

Let's face it, the Spring racing carnival isn't just about the horses — it's an annual fashion event with few rivals.    

What to wear to Melbourne Cup Carnival

One of the truly unique characteristics of the Melbourne Cup Carnivaland its sister events is that they showcase the finest in spring fashions. Both female and male attendees pull out all of the stops when selecting their Spring racing apparel.

There are some hard and fast rules when it comes to what to wear to the races, in part because what you wear has much to do with where you plan to spend the day. In the reserved seating areas ladies typically wear spring dresses, pastel-colored suits, or bold separates that coordinate with their fascinator headwear and accessories.

Melbourne Cup Carnival dresses

The Melbourne Cup is a chance for every female to express herself so take note and don't hold back when planning your Melbourne Cup wardrobe!

How should you dress for the Melbourne Cup?

When selecting your dress for the Melbourne Cup the recommended practice is to keep it simple, so it doesn't take away from your headwear. You can also let the colour and excitement of spring inspire you and select a dress full of colour, or floral or equine patterns. 

How should you dress in the Melbourne Cup members area?

Members are expected to adhere to a suitable standard that aligns with the dignity of the Members Enclosure. Key clothing items that are are considered inappropriate include short jumpsuits or playsuits, garments that expose the midriff, and shorts.

Overseas visitors are encouraged to wear the formal national dress of their country.

How should you dress in the Melbourne Cup general admission ticket area?

General admission ticket holders are not required to follow any specific dress regulations. However, it is recommended to dress appropriately for a pleasant day at the races by wearing your preferred casual or race day attire.

What shoes to wear to the Melbourne Cup Carnival?

No Melbourne Cup outfit is complete without the spring heel or sandal. But remember, Flemington race track grounds can be tricky to maneuver and the day is long, so remember to pack a backup pair of flats, just in case!

Can I wear heels to the Melbourne Cup Carnival?

The golden rule of dressing for the races is to try avoiding high heels altogether because you will be on your feet all day. You'll likely also have to walk from the station or car park to the track.

Can you wear jeans to Melbourne Cup Carnival?

Jeans can be worn only in general admission areas. Jeans are not allowed in the members area.

Do you have to wear a fascinator to the Melbourne Cup Carnival?

Hats and fascinators are both equally "acceptable" at the track during Melbourne Cup Carnival. Don't feel obligated to wear a hat if you aren't comfortable! Our #1 tip is to choose what makes you feel comfortable and confident otherwise you'll be self-conscious all day, and who wants that?

What is the dress theme for the Melbourne Cup?

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is a four-day event, with each day having its own dress theme:

  • Derby Day: Monochrome
  • Melbourne Cup Day: No official dress code, but bright colors and bold statements are encouraged
  • Oaks Day: Ladies Day, with a focus on femininity and florals
  • Stakes Day: Family Day, with a more relaxed and casual dress code

Derby Day is all about black and white, and is often considered to be the most formal day of the carnival. Think classic silhouettes, tailored suits, and elegant dresses. You can also add a pop of color with your accessories, such as a hat, fascinator, or handbag.

Melbourne Cup Day is a day to dress up and have fun. There is no official dress code, but bright colors and bold statements are encouraged. Think ruffled dresses, statement hats, and sparkling jewelry. This is the perfect day to wear your most glamorous outfit.

Oaks Day is also known as Ladies Day, and is all about celebrating femininity and florals. Think soft pastels, delicate lace, and flowy skirts. This is the perfect day to wear a dress or skirt with a floral print. You can also add a feminine touch to your outfit with a fascinator or headband.

Stakes Day is the most relaxed day of the carnival, and is often referred to as Family Day. The dress code is more casual, but you should still dress appropriately for the occasion. Think tailored shorts, sundresses, and button-down shirts.


Be Prepared Check The Weather: 

What to Wear to the Melbourne Cup This Year

Like all racecourses, there are open spaces with many uncovered areas. A brolly and layers are often useful, particularly if the weather is changeable. This is Melbourne after all!

The 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival begins with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 4 November followed by Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday 7 November, Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 9 November and TAB Champions Stakes Day on Saturday 11 November.

No matter what day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival you're attending, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Dress to impress, and make sure your outfit is something you feel confident and comfortable in.