Cup carnage. We’ve all seen the footage. 3pm at the races and a crowd of floundering racegoers are on the hunt for carbohydrates, shoes in hand and headpiece in the wind. There are faint cries from the bathroom as girls try to find their friends. But said friends, their clip-ins and dignity are long gone.
The majority of us are guilty of occasionally losing track of our champagne intake, but one must remember the races are not a music festival. If you can wear your outfit to a nightclub, save it for Saturday night. If your shoes don’t fit, switch them. And please, if you are feeling confident enough to start an impromptu dance party or kiss a stranger within a 4km radius of a stable, order yourself an Uber and call it a day.
Winner of National Myer Fashions on the Field Crystal Kimber believes research is key in the greatest aspect of racing etiquette - respecting race wear rules. “The racing dress code has always been traditional and ensures a standard is kept at each racecourse,” Crystal said.
“Before planning any outfits, I always double check the dress code to avoid the disappointment of being turned away at the gate by security, especially when attending a member’s enclosure,” she said. “Member’s enclosures are often stricter with dress codes, ensuring people keep to the racing tradition.”
And Crystal would know. She took out first prize in the 2017 National Myer Fashions on the Field in a modernised skirt inherited from her grandmother. Having entered racing fashion competitions since she was 16, Crystal is famed for her inspired ensembles and authentic approach to trackside style.
Now we have covered attire, let’s ensure you can act like a lady too. Crystal told us her grandmother is responsible for giving her the first lesson in ladylike behaviour. “My grandma always taught me to eat as I would with the queen and to act like a lady,” Crystal said.
“This is very old fashioned but still so relevant today,” she said. “When I was younger, I probably didn’t notice un-ladylike behaviour as much as I do now; to me being a lady is being respectful of yourself and others as well as acting with grace and dignity in public.”
Naming alcohol as the biggest contributor to trashy antics, Crystal cringes at staggering revellers. “The key is pacing yourself, as attending the races is a special occasion and you should enjoy yourself,” Crystal said. “This means not drinking too much and choosing comfortable shoes to last the day.”
Removing shoes should be considered as great a risk as removing your underwear – you cannot measure how much further from grace you will fall from that point. “There’s nothing worse than seeing people walking home holding their shoes,” Crystal said. “To avoid this, purchase a pair of fold up jiffies that you can put on for the walk home or to your transport,” she said. “Your feet will thank you and it will ensure you still look classy at the end of the day.”
A racing veteran like Crystal knows that old adage ‘Prevention is better than cure’ counts doubly when attending a carnival. “Before any race day, I will wear my shoes around the house to make sure they fit well and are comfortable,” Crystal said. “If your feet are slipping out or uncomfortable then, add party feet so you can last the day,” she said.
To maintain the look you put so much effort into the morning of, Crystal recommends carrying pressed powder, lash glue, bobby pins and a mini sewing kit in your purse. If you don’t use it, you’ll save someone else in desperate need.
“I will always use finishing powder and an extra spray of hairspray to make sure everything is in place before leaving the house,” Crystal said. “Primer before doing your makeup will also ensure your foundation will last longer on the day,” she said. “There’s nothing worse than having your headpiece fly off or a hem coming undone when you are having fun.”
Fun may seem a curious outcome for a day that demands so much planning and attention to detail, but that is what ensures a day at the races delivers sensations like no other event on your social calendar. Being a lady is about pride, poise, admiration and respect; even the horses know they can’t run wild at Morphettville.
Photography: Fabulous Femme