Dressing for the races: finding the perfect fit

By author photo Kate Merryweather


Race day is a fancy, festive, fabulous event – the perfect opportunity to get glammed up with your girls or guys, and celebrate! But the notorious conundrum of dressing for the races is ever lurking amongst the excitement… what on earth will you wear!? Ladies and gents, the key to sartorial success at the races is knowing your body shape and choosing styles that highlight your best features and make you feel great!


We all know the frustrating challenge of finding clothing that compliments and accentuates your body

With racing season approaching, there’s no better time to understand your body type to find the most stunning fit for the special occasion! It’s your time to stand out amongst the crowd – champagne in hand, your fascinator grande, and dressed to impress.

So ladies and gents, it’s time to learn about your body! We’ve put together a guide on how to dress for your body shape and find those show-stopping race day outfits that you’re craving.


Learn your body shape

There’s no avoiding it, you need to get up close with a mirror! Take a look at where your curves are most prominent – and where they’re not – to fit your body with the most common shapes below. It will help determine what styles will truly enhance your natural figure.


What to wear to the races: women’s body shapes


Your shape: curvy, with a larger bust and hips, and narrow waist

Celebrity style: Marilyn Monroe, Kim Kardashian 

If you’re lucky enough to flaunt the ever-desired hourglass figure, you’ve already got a great synergy of curves to work with. And they’re all in the right places! You’ve got the luxury of picking from a vast range of clothing that highlights your best assets.

The perfect dresses for the races: Can be tight, fitting and tailored. Show off your waist with pleats and peplums. Belted dresses and nipped-in jackets are perfect racing attire for you! If you prefer a skirt try a pencil or tulip skirt to highlight your shape, emphasize your smaller waist and lengthen your legs. And let’s not forget the always flattering wrap dress! These were made for the hourglass figures.

You have the freedom of going all out with your race day outfit to show off your figure or taking a more conservative approach and wearing a flared dress. Then why not add proportion with a wide-brimmed hat or larger fascinator.



Your shape: narrow shoulders, smaller bust and broader hips 

Celebrity style: Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé

A pear-shaped woman is heavier in the hips and lighter in her upper body. If you’re flaunting a pear figure, you might want you clothing to create a balance between your top and bottom.

The perfect outfit for the races: Should be fitted and flared! Think A-line hems, gathered materials and the always faithful wrap dress. If dresses aren’t your thing separates are a great choice for your race day outfit, because you’re often a smaller size in the top. Your race day outfit can also include bulkier jewelry, frills, and sleeves that highlight your shoulders and draws the eye up. You’ve got the luxury to accessorize and add volume in your top, so go for it!



Your shape: rounded shoulders, medium to larger busy, thicker waist, narrow hips and slimmer legs 

Celebrity style: Oprah Winfrey, Drew Barrymore, Adele 

Many older women are apple shapes, women tend to thicken around the waist as they age. You have the choice of highlighting your great bust or great legs – but never both at once!

The perfect outfit for the races: Longer jackets and drop-waisted dresses skim over your tummy and show off your slim hips. Flaunt your legs with a shorter or A-line skirt or, tailored shorts are a chic choice for the races. As for headwear, there’s no limits – all types of hats and fascinators will work for you for your race day look!



Your shape: evenly proportioned from shoulders to hips, fewer curves, flatter bum, longer legs

Celebrity style: Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Kate Middleton

Lucky rectangles are great coat hangers! With your balanced shoulders and hips, clothes sit on you beautifully. You’ve got minimal curves, but a lovely long figure to work with! Your clothing is designed to add the illusion of a more defined waist.

The perfect outfit for the races: Show off those longer legs with shorter hemlines or a slim fit trouser or flaunt a dress that brings your arms to focus. Frills and embellishments are the perfect way to add some spice to your race day outfit. Think A-line dresses and collars, and don’t be afraid to wear some bold colours. Layer up your attire, too!



Your shape: broader shoulders, narrow hips, a bigger bust, flatter bottom, slimmer hips and thighs 

Celebrity style: Elle Macpherson, Renee Zellweger

If you wear tops in larger sizes than your trousers and skirts, you’re probably a triangle! Your body likely has a wider upper body and smaller hips, which is the exact opposite of a pear. This means you’re creating that balance the other way around. You could have a larger bust or broader shoulders, but you’ll also have that small waist to work with! Remember the supermodels of late 1980s with their athletic shapes? Triangles!

The perfect dresses for the races  Will be a little plain on top but party on the bottom! Choose pleated jackets or dresses with waist details to create curves. The classic A-line, ruffle or 1950s style wider skirts are all good for you for your race day outfit! Keep the headwear simple so other aspects of your outfit shine.


What to wear to the races: men’s body shapes


Your shape: slimmer hips, rounded shoulders and chest, broader waist 

Celebrity style: James Corden, Matt Preston

It’s all about the fit!

The perfect outfit for the races:  Dark colours from head to toe are your friend, they create an elongated look and disguise the midsection. Trouser fit is essential! Anything too tight will pinch and wrinkle and too big can leave you looking unpolished. Be sure to skip straining shirt buttons and make sure to get the right size shirt too – billowing shirts can add unnecessary bulk. Use bow ties, bright ties and statement hats to draw the eye upwards.



Your shape: evenly proportioned through shoulders, chest, waist and hips 

Celebrity style: David Beckham, Hamish Blake

You’re typically quite tall and thin. Your objective is to create an optical illusion to widen the shoulders.

The perfect outfit for the races:  Proper fit is essential, anything baggy and you’ll look like you borrowed your dad’s suit, no matter your age! Pops of colour such as a contrasting shirt, pocket handkerchief and scarf look sharp trackside. You’re often tall, so ensure your trousers are the right length and if brave enough, why not embrace the sockless trend? It is now permissible at Flemington, so why not add it to your race day outfit? You can pull it off!



Your shape: narrow shoulders, wider chest and even wider waistline

Celebrity style: Russell Crowe, Eddie Maguire

Creating a strong silhouette is your key objective.

The perfect outfit for the races:  Go for patterned single-breasted jackets that skim your tummy, you’ll want to avoid double-breasted jackets that draw the eye to your midsection. Try adding a touch of structure to the shoulder to create more proportion up top, you can do this by picking the right jacket (Shoulder pads aren’t off the table for you)! When it comes to trousers, skinny fit don’t provide the proportion you’re going for; so try a slim fit instead.



Your shape: athletic, with a slightly larger upper section. 

Celebrity style: Daniel Craig, Bachelor Matt Agnew, Jonatahn LaPaglia

Lucky you! Most designers cater to your body shape so off-the-rack suits will typically fit you well. So, dressing for the races is up to your personal taste.

The perfect outfit for the races:  Add interest with cufflinks, contrasting jacket or waistcoat for extra flair. Play with spring colors like pale blue or beige if you’re looking to mix it up. Single-buttoned jackets are perfect to show off your shape at the races. Your biggest no-no is getting your fit wrong – nothing loose or baggy for you.


Inverted Triangle

Your shape: very broad in the shoulders, slim to medium waist, larger thighs

Celebrity style: Nick Cummins, ‘The Rock’ Dwayne Johnson

Whether you’re born that way or earned it at the gym, unfortunately, standard menswear cuts don’t often fit you.

The perfect outfit for the races:  Fit, fit fit! It’s all about finding the right fit. Shirts and jackets that fit over your shoulders and back can often gape at the waist, giving you an ill-fitted look. Find a quality tailor to make the necessary adjustments, trust me – it will be worth it on race day. Stretch cotton is your best fabric choice. If you’re blessed with broad shoulders, they won’t need any emphasis, so you can avoid any fuss around the neckline with loud ties or pocket kerchiefs.


Feeling comfortable and confident at the races is important for a great day out, so paying attention to your ensemble is worth your effort. Have a great time trackside!

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