The Star’s Guide to Winter Racing Fashion Trends

And they’re off! Be the fashion front runner this winter racing season with our guide to racing fashion in 2021 as told by renowned stylists across the country.

Roll up, roll up, the 2021 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival is about to kick off and you have to be in it to win it, quite literally. We’re not just talking placing a bet, either, we’re talking fashion – a highlight of every racing carnival.

Now, while spring often steals the show when it comes to racing style, there’s a whole world of racing fashion to indulge all year round. You’ll see the proof trackside at Brisbane’s upcoming Winter Carnival.

To get you off on the right foot, here are 10 winter racing fashion trends to try this season.

1. Layering is key

The wondrous thing about winter fashion is the ability to layer. Layering makes an outfit instantly nuanced and interesting, adding a level of intrigue to an otherwise simple ensemble. Trackside, layering is just as important. Stylist Aileen Marr suggests tapping into the big corsetry trend, however layering it underneath a tailored suit.

“Try winter whites or beige, and pair with a closed-toe shoe, or even a boot,” she explains. A sharp, wide-brimmed hat completes a decidedly race-ready look.

2. Colour your winter world 

Winter may be synonymous with a darker palette, but Westfield Chermside stylist and racing fashion expert Annabel Falco believes otherwise. “Winter racing celebrates bold colours – think rich, jewel tones.”. Falco’s top trends for this winter racing season include “head-to-toe colour blocking”, with “bonus points” if you can rock it with a bold colour palette.

Recent runways have shown us how to wear bright, punchy colour even in cooler months. Maison Valentino, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta set the tone for winter with retina-searing colour, best articulated tonally. Acid greens, cobalt blues, lipstick reds and zingy orange lead the pack for racing fashion in 2021, either worn together as striking block colours or offset with neutrals like black, beige, grey and cream.

3. Play with texture

Unlike spring, which skews towards lightweight fabrications, winter racing fashion beholds a world of tactile fancy. Embrace lofty textures like tweed, plaid, bouclé and velvet.

When playing with winter textures, Falco loves using detailed fabrics, such as embroidery, beading, suede and fur. “For me, there is a real luxe undertone to winter styling where glamour is well and truly celebrated.”

4. Focus on fringing

You can also back a (fashion) winner in the form of fringing; with fringed, shredded and tasselled pieces a big hit on winter runways, while Marr says the staying power of a ribbed knit dress is undeniable. And to truly stand out from the crowd, attempt a texture-clash — it’s bold but will pay fashion dividends.

5. Consider lace and macrame

Traditional summer fabrics such as lace, crochet and macramé have had a winter makeover thanks to Australian designers Christopher Esber and Dion Lee; their fabrics are rendered in thicker iterations that not only look fabulous but fare better when the mercury drops.

6. Don’t undervalue the importance of comfort

As fabulous as a form-fitting dress may be, the call of canapés and Champagne can prove too irresistible come race day. Luckily, prim is in, so now is the time to embrace soft feminine shapes and trace back to your youth with puritan frocks, Peter Pan collars and frothy smocks that speak of innocence.

A whole day on your feet means sky-high stilettos and spindly heels are an obvious no-no. Falco’s cardinal racing rule? “Do NOT take your shoes off… If you can’t handle a heel, there are plenty of gorgeous flats to choose from.”

Thankfully, for the welfare of our feet, chunky and low is in: think robust mules with low kitten heels, elegant penny loafers and ladylike pumps that are both stylish and sensible. So, you can have your cake (or chicken sandwich) and eat it, too.

7. Wear florals, even if it’s not spring

Who said florals should be ignored in winter (sorry fans of The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly)? Marr suggests trying out micro florals — a huge winter trend — at your next race day or blooms that are slightly subverted: think wintery buds in moody hues and rich, decorative fabrications.

8. Make your accessories count

This season, the gloves are off — or rather on — as ladylike accessories return. Operatic gloves add a glamorously decorous spin to any ensemble, while hosiery is back in a big way and should be attempted even with open-toe sandals, advises celebrity stylist Jess Pecoraro.

Bags come compact and cute (but not too cute, they still must fit a phone, wallet, keys and lipstick, thus cancelling out the micro, micro trend). When it comes to jewellery, fly the flag and wear refined gold and silver by Brisbane darling Natasha Schweitzer, or queen of the statement jewel, Brisbane-based Christie Nicolaides, whose range also includes race-appropriate crowns and clips.

9. Have fun with headwear

Of course, the defining attribute of any race-day look is headwear, but retire straw styles and turn to pieces made from velvet and felt, with headbands and face veils still major players. Falco’s favourite 2021 headwear trends are “bejewelled headbands and preppy (and designer… think Chanel) bows”. She adds: “Berets will be big this year”.

10. Embrace fashion’s most polarising trends

Embrace a little puff, try a short suit, even (elegantly) play with cut-outs. The key to race-day fashion victory, however, is to temper the trend with classic accessories. Pecoraro suggests adding an elegant pump and top-handle tote to elevate an on-trend Bermuda short and blazer combo, or countering the nakedness of cut-outs with artful layering: “think a fine-knit turtleneck and chic coat.” Remember, a canny game of reveal-and-conceal will be your best friend come race day.

Chrisanthi Kaliviotis
Formerly the Fashion Features Editor of GRAZIA International, Chrisanthi Kaliviotis has covered Paris, Milan, London and New York Fashion Week from the ground. She has also interviewed some of the biggest designers and talent in the fashion industry, has been published in major fashion and lifestyle outlets and creates content for several prominent fashion houses.

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