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DRESS CODE DEBRIEF: Style your Spring Carnival race days with Lauren Dilena

Discerning your Derby Day monochrome from your Oaks Day femme is simple enough for most racing style enthusiasts to understand, but when it comes to curating clothes for the Cox Plate or Stakes Day, it’s time to call in the professionals. We sat down with FATR Ambassador and Stylist Lauren Dilena for a lesson in dressing for each major race day throughout Spring Carnival.

First up on the agenda is Caulfield Cup Day on October 19, whose theme Lauren believes is ladylike with a twist. “The twist will be swapping lace and floral frocks for bolder, colour blocking dresses and statement headwear,” Lauren said. “Think colour pop shoes and embellished bright headbands and hair clips.”

Next, October 26 will see Cox Plate Day fashion flooding our newsfeeds. “Cox plate is always a bit more classic with its fashion theme,” Lauren said. “I really love when women wear one tone with a splash of colour,” she said. “We might still see the classic tones and colours together, like white with red, or we might see someone daring it with a primary colour and pairing this back with neon accessories.”

Then things get serious. November 2 will see racing clubs across the nation awash with black and white, but amongst the collectivism, Lauren feels a perfect Derby Day look means being true to yourself. “Last year we saw a lot of suiting, tonal dressing and statement sleeves and I think it will be similar this year,” she said. “I think volume materials and overstated headwear will still be a major statement for Derby Day.”

However, the most major fashion moments will happen on Melbourne Cup Day as swathes of celebrities flock to Flemington to unveil Spring Carnival’s most iconic trends. To stand out from the crowd, Lauren wants you to push your boundaries. “Go bold and dare to be different with unique silhouettes and design details,” Lauren said.

“I do love ruffles, statement sleeves, bold shoulders, and asymmetric fabrications blended together,” she said. “Melbourne Cup Day, I’ve always gone a little more classic (2017) or feminine (2018) so this time I think I’m going to step outside the square and try something completely different – I haven’t planned my outfit yet, so I could be pushing it!”

If you are celebrating the race that stops a nation off the course, Lauren recommends toning your look down to suit your surroundings. “Perhaps relax the look a little by taking off your headwear or let your hair down for a more casual look,” Lauren said. “You can always bring an extra bag to swap your shoes over as well.”

Following the Cup, Oaks Day invites racegoers to express their interpretation of femininity. “Oaks Day always reminds me of pretty in pink styling, but instead of pink, I think lavender will be a massive hit,” Lauren said.

“This day is all about the ladies, meaning you should show off your feminine side,” she said. “Styles like classic suiting, florals, tulle or lace princess dresses and opt for fun-filled girlie headwear, like headbands, scrunchies or hair clips.”

Spring Carnival’s grand finale is Stakes Day. “I do adore a lady-like print for Stakes Day, with colour popping accessories,” Lauren said. “This season I’m thinking 70s retro and chic accessories to do all the talking, whilst adding fun with playful makeup and hair styles.”

According to Lauren, the SS19 runway trends to take trackside are voluminous silhouettes, oversized 80s shoulders, lavender tones, animal prints, tiny bags and statement one-shoulder sleeves. “Off shoulder is going to still be a major trend continuing for 2019/20,” Lauren said. “Monochromic and matching patterned two-pieces are huge on the runways, and cut-outs in unexpected styles to create that wow factor,” she said. “High-low hemlines are trying to make a comeback.”

The colours to keep your eyes on are primary hues, while popular prints are animal, patchwork and florals. “Midi dresses are still major, but I do think we’re going to see the return of the mini dress,” Lauren said. “But remember to keep it classy with racing attire.”

In accessories, tiny totes and clutches will tick boxes, while square lace-up heels will keep your shoe game golden. Lauren encourages pearls across hair, jewelry and even sunglasses this spring. “I think working with fantastic milliners like our fabulous local designers Mimi – Jane Millinery and Sylvy Earl will help you update your looks,” Lauren said. “I do love that we’re seeing a bit of tulle fabric used in with headbands, hats and fascinators this season.”

Having recently judged FATR’s season finale, Lauren’s number one piece of advice to fashion competitors is to showcase your ensemble as best as you can within the photos taken on the day. “Show it all off as much as you can, down to your bags, accessories and shoes,” Lauren said. “Also think about your overall look; if it’s cold but you’re competing in spring races, perhaps lose the jacket and gloves for the photo - as silly as this sounds, this could be the deal breaker.”

FATR followers would have seen Lauren at the AAMI Spring Carnival Launch on October 5 and you will find her at the Melbourne Cup on November 5. While Lauren has only booked her Melbourne Cup makeup artist at this stage, we can expect our ambassador to bring her A-game with a last-minute look. Keep refreshing your Insta-feed @LaurenDilena for the stylist’s racewear updates. Also check out a few of our favourite snaps of Lauren from past race days for some racewear inspo! 

Click here for all the upcoming Fashions on the Field events across South Australia.

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