Nadia Bartel shares her Spring Racing dos and don'ts.

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A day at the races can mean many things – a nice family day out, a work function, a valid excuse for day drinking or a justification for dressing up.

Whatever your reason for going, in a world where activewear is no longer restricted to the gym, dressing for the Spring Racing Carnival and navigating its dress code can be a little confusing. Intimidating, even. But it doesn’t have to be.

We got races veteran and Caulfield Cup Style Ambassador Nadia Bartel to share her do’s and don’ts. We can’t guarantee you’ll get entry into the Birdcage – but at least you’ll look great trying.

Do… wear a hat.

“You 100 per cent still need to wear headwear. It doesn’t have to be big, but it’s essential,” Bartel says.

“My sister doesn’t like the big headpieces but I love a big floppy hat or a boater. Delicate crowns will always be in fashion and there’s always something you can do, whether it’s a jewel piece in your hair or even dainty jewellery in your hair. Definitely try something.”

Don’t… wear that dress you wore clubbing last week.

“I think the biggest style mistake you can make would have to be not dressing racewear-appropriate. You don’t have to be too strict, but too short or too sparkly is a no-no, and especially anything that shows underwear or bra straps,” she says.

“It’s nice having dress code – it’s the difference between going out for a night out and a day at the races.”

Do… have a big breakfast.

“It’s definitely my top survival tip. The day can run away with you when you’re getting ready and then catching up with friends. Ensuring you’ve eaten a huge breakfast in the morning keeps you going the whole day long.”


Don’t… wear over the top ‘Instagram makeup’.

“The beauty mistake people make is going for a beauty look that’s too heavy,” she says.

“I love a bold lip, particularly brown or burgundy this season – almost darker, vampy styles. You don’t want anything that will smudge as it’s a long day, so go for a natural, glowy fresh look and focus on your lip.

“And of course, bring your lip liner and lipstick for touch ups!”

Do… take lots of outfit pictures on the day.

It could win you money, thanks to a major overhaul of Fashions on the Field this Caulfield Cup.

“The Westfield Style Stakes is the fresh version of the traditional competition. I’ve judged for many years and while it’s great, competing in it means you get taken away from your friends for the day and not everyone is comfortable walking on the catwalk,” Bartel says.

This year, the comp has gone digital, with professional photographers on hand to take shots of you and ensure you get the best poses. They’ll then be uploaded to social media where the judging panel will pick their favourites across four categories – lads, women, professional millinery and squad (two to eight people). (Post continues after gallery.)

Do… laugh at your old outfits.

We all have style regrets.

“I have one that I wore – a beautiful green skirt but it was a couple of sizes too big. I went for the separates look which can go well but I tried to pair with top that was short and tight,” she says.

“I had a great day but look at photos and cringe a little!”

 Do… dare to bare your shoulders.

“I think the ’70s influence is going to be bigger than ever this year. So lots of sleeve detailing, fluted skirts and off the shoulder necklines are going to be really big,” she says.

“I think we’ll also see lots of metallics for a stronger look.”

Don’t… write lace off as dowdy.

“I love the modern take on lace at the moment, in pastel colours like lilac, baby blue and pink. Also mixing in lace with sheer panelling – Zimmerman and Thurley are doing that really well.”


Do… bring a clutch to carry useful things.

“I always pack my MAC powder to blot as I get oily in my T-zone, My Go-To lip balm even when I have my lipstick – I use it on my eyebrows as well,” she says.

“I also take eye drops to keep my eyes nice and fresh as it can get quite windy. It helps in the afternoon too.”

Don’t… forget to drink lots of water.

Obvious, but important.

“Drink lots of water and keep yourself hydrated between alcohol drinks so you can stay for the whole day.”

Watch: Why face mists are a handbag essential. Post continues after video.

Don’t… take the day too seriously.

Finally, remember it’s meant to be fun.

“Number one tip would be to just have fun with it. People take it a bit too seriously, so relax, sit down – you don’t have to get to everyone. That’s how I survive,” she says.

Got it.

Image: Instagram/@nadiabartel.

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