Melbourne Cup dresses: a 2023 style guide for the race that stops the nation

Patrons wait for the fashions on the field ahead of the running of Australia's premier horse race, the 157th Melbourne Cup

Discover our curated selection of Melbourne Cup dresses for 2023! Get ready to turn heads at the race that stops the nation.

Melbourne Cup is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to dust off your gorgeous frocks and prepare for a fashion extravaganza – whether you plan to watch the action of Lexus Melbourne Cup Day live from Flemington Racecourse on 7 November 2023 or gather ‘round the telly to host/attend a party at home.

The race that stops the nation is a golden opportunity to flaunt your flair for fashion, so we’ve asked Westpac Concierge‘s fashion and retail experts  for recommendations on Melbourne Cup dresses. These lifestyle experts are available to assist with the specifics of your daily life, including to provide exclusive offers and benefits for you to enjoy. If you’re a Westpac cardholder, you might already be eligible for our complimentary service. Simply click the button below to find out.

Now, don those sunnies and let’s delve into the world of Melbourne Cup fashion.

Here’s your 2023 style guide to Melbourne Cup dresses

Patrons wait for the fashions on the field ahead of the running of Australia's premier horse race, the 157th Melbourne Cup

Melbourne Cup dresses aren’t just threads you throw on, they’re a fashion statement. If you’re attending the race in person, this is your chance to turn heads, make an entrance, and possibly even appear on the Herald Sun’s Lifestyle page or its social media platforms .

Picture this: the sun’s blazing, the fizz is flowing, and you’re perched trackside with your mates, cheering on your favourite horse. But what’s catching everyone’s eye? It’s those who are strutting their stuff in their killer Melbourne Cup dresses – the epitome of elegance, sophistication, and a dash of that laid-back Aussie charm. Now, let’s get down to the good stuff – what to wear. If you’re wondering how to nail Melbourne Cup fashion, we have you covered like a joey in a ’roo pouch.

Melbourne Cup fashion: Think floral

First off, think floral. Spring has well and truly sprung, so embrace those bloomin’ flowers with a gorgeously flowy floral frock. Don’t be afraid to go bold with colours and prints – after all, the Cup is all about making a statement.

Wardrobe winner: One of Australia’s most famous fashion exports, Zimmermann always hits the spot when it comes to cocktail dresses, and the silk linen Luminosity Picnic Dress from the Fall 2023 collection is a great Melbourne Cup option with its fitted bustier and rosy garden print. Or you could opt for a piece from the brand’s resort wear collection, such as the airy cotton silk Raie frill shoulder midi dress or the bold Ginger strapless midi dress with its vibrant shades of yellow and pink in a floral pattern.  

Melbourne Cup fashion: Make a statement

Statement silhouettes are a hallmark of Melbourne Cup fashion – they’re the secret sauce to standing out in the crowd. If you’re after a classically feminine silhouette that exudes confidence, look no further than ruching and wrap designs. These savvy elements cinch in the waist and lengthen the legs to ensure you’re ready to conquer race day.

But wait, there’s more! For those who want to fully embrace their feminine side, consider dresses with bow accents or go all-in with a chic one-shoulder dress. These small details can transform your outfit from stylish to extraordinary, allowing you to explore your individual sense of style.

Wardrobe winner: The yellow Dana midi dress from eco-conscious Australian label ALÈMAIS has everything you need to stand out: a vibrant colour, a precious duchess-satin fabric, a romantic back bow, and an oh-so-Melbourne Cup floral print.  

If you’re yearning for a modern twist, give dramatic puff sleeves a whirl. Puff sleeves have firmly established themselves as a fashion favourite, and trust us, they’re here to stay. These striking sleeves add a touch of glamour and drama to your look, ensuring you make a memorable entrance.

Wardrobe winner: Known for its colourful dresses and effortless elegant look, Aussie label Aje delivers Melbourne Cup fashion with its azure-blue Eugenie dress with charming off-the-shoulder puff sleeves.

Now, for those of you with a penchant for a slightly more edgy vibe, suiting is the name of the game. Tailored suits are the go-to choice, especially if you have a petite frame – they strike the perfect balance, offering a sharp look without overwhelming your figure.

And for our taller, curvier mates, we’ve got another ace up our sleeve. Opt for a high-waisted, wide-leg trouser and blazer combo. The high waistline will emphasize your height by drawing the eye down your legs, while the wide-leg shape will gracefully hug your curves. The blazer adds that extra touch of structure, giving your outfit the perfect Melbourne Cup edge.

But if you’re more of a classic type, a chic midi dress with a flattering silhouette is your go-to choice.

For those looking to make a splash, jumpsuits have been making waves at the Cup lately. They’re comfy, stylish, and perfect for a long day of sipping bubbly and mingling. Pair one with some killer heels and you’re good to go.

Melbourne Cup fashion: Dress your head

Melbourne Cup dresses: Racegoers pose on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 4, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.

Now, when it comes to Melbourne Cup fashion, there’s one unwritten rule you’ll want to follow – adorn your lovely head with some fabulous headwear. It’s practically a rite of passage for this springtime racing event and adds an extra layer of fun to the fashion game.

Whether it’s a chic headpiece, a regal crown, a whimsical fascinator, or a classic hat, the choice is yours. While it’s not a strict rule, it’s a tradition that’s as Aussie as a sausage sizzle at the local footy match. It’s a nod to the elegance and charm that defines spring racing fashion, and it’s one of the little things that make Cup Day so incredibly enjoyable.

Let’s be honest, how many opportunities do you get to flaunt a headpiece or fascinator throughout the year? The  Melbourne Cup is your chance to go all out and complete your outfit with statement headwear. So, seize the moment, express your distinctive style, and make your mark.

Wardrobe winner: A Melbourne family-owned company, Cupids Millinery design and produce ladies fashion fascinators and hats that have graced the heads of several ‘best dressed’ winners.

So, there you have it, folks. Cheers to the race that stops the nation and may your fashion game be as strong as your Melbourne Cup spirit! And of you’re in Melbourne for the occasion, you might want to have a look at our foodie’s guide to fine dining in Victoria’s capital.



Aude Camus

Parisian-born Aude visited her first restaurant aged just a few days old – now she's always ready for her next meal. When not interviewing award-winning chefs or looking for a new restaurant to visit, you’ll find her planning her next getaway from Hong Kong where she’s lived since 2015. Her travel writing has appeared in online publications such as Destination Deluxe and The Hotel Journal, and she runs a lifestyle platform for French expats living in Hong Kong.

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