AAMI Victoria Derby Day: Men's Style Guide
You’d recognise AAMI Victoria Derby Day predominantly by the fashion seen on the gents and ladies during the day. Traditionally, blacks, whites, greys are the dress code for the occasion and race goers stick to the monochrome palette when heading out to kick off the Spring Racing scene in Melbourne.
Dressing in black and white initially sounds like the easiest task; no need to match or complement colours or stress about conflicting accessories that don’t match up well with the rest of your outfit. The task can arise from finding the best accessories for Derby Day and balancing between the monochrome palette and still find textures, patterns and fun motifs to stand out from the crowd on the day and showcase your individual style. Dive into this guide to find out more about Derby Day and how to style up on the first day of the racing season.
Alright, let’s first jump into what Derby Day is and look a little bit into its history to get context about the day. The Victoria Derby, also known as the AAMI Victoria Derby is a thoroughbred horse race with a distance of 2,500 meters that is scheduled on the first day of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival held annually. The total price money for the race is $2,000,000.
The first Victoria Derby was held in 1855 in Melbourne and since its inception only one horse has ever won the race more than once. That’s pretty rare considering how many horses have won the biggest racing event of the year, the Melbourne Cup, more than once. We’re thinking of the horses Makybe Diva, Think Big, Rain Rocer, Peter Pain and Archer and for a race that’s 3200 meters compared to 2500 meters in the Derby Day race, that’s quite the feat. There’s also a few names that have gone down in history within the Victoria Derby such as Star Of The Realm, who holds the fastest time record for finishing the race in 1991, Bobbie Lewis, a jocky who wont 8 Victoria Derby races and James Scobie, a trainer who has 8 wins under his belt.
Although this day is regarded as one of the most prestigious days in the Spring Racing Carnival racing season, the fashion on the field that takes place off the track holds a huge draw-card for many avid racing fans and the style competitions held on the day for gents is the perfect time to get yourself suited up and decked out in the best Derby Day accessories.
Gents’ Dress Code
Amid a huge turnout at the Victoria Derby Day exceeding a few thousand people, a sea of black and white can be seen amongst punters and fashion pros alike. The dress code for men and boys over the age of twelve on the Victoria Derby Day is a suite or tailored pants including a jacket, coat or blazer as well as a tie or bow tie with dress shoes at all times in all areas. The colour code is black and white including grey tones.
A different flower is worn on the lapel of the jacket for each different day during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. On Derby Day, the blue-purple cornflower is worn traditionally. The colour closely resembles OTAAs Mini Blue Lapel Flower or the Plum Purple Mini Lapel Flower. These are great alternatives if you don’t have time to source out a real cornflower on the day to wear on the lapel of your suit jacket. Many race goers don’t choose to wear a buttonhole on this day though as it is not a compulsory piece, but we’d suggest wearing one if you’re comfortable with it and if it completes your look on the day. The history behind why the blue cornflower was chosen for this day is not fully known, but it was introduced in 1962 by Mrs Sheelah Wood.
Below is a quick summary of what to wear as a gent attending Derby Day. In terms of styling all the pieces of clothing together with matching and complementing accessories, we’ve outlined a good guide below with links to Derby Day Ties.
Colour Code: Black and White
Tailored Pants: Compulsory
Suit Jacket/Coat/Blazer: Compulsory
Dress Shoes: Compulsory
Buttonhole: Optional, Cornflower
Men’s Styling Guide for Victoria Derby Day
We aren't sure where the black and white dress code tradition came from or why it became a thing for Derby Day. But we do know this – The Brothers at OTAA designed a whole tonne of worthy monochrome neckties and skinny ties for the taking and this collection of Derby Day Ties goes beyond what is necessary for a single race day. OTAA's carefully designed collection of black and white Derby Day ties contains all the combinations of checked patterns, polka dots, paisleys, stripes and more that are a blend between black and white and grey to create an extensive collection of Derby Day neckties that will bring your getup together in a single tie.
We’ve come up with a range of awesome styling combinations below to account for the varying styles and preferences of the individual gent. A lot of the time we generally know what works best for our personal flair, so the below can be used to get some general ideas for pairing blacks, whites and greys for Derby Day.
The key when dressing up for Derby Day in monochrome tones is to have block tones embedded throughout the outfit so that the final look isn’t too washed out with patterns and textures.
Option 1: Black Pants and Black Suit Jacket
Option 2: Black Pants and Grey Suit Jacket
Option 3: Black Pants and White Suit Jacket
Option 4: Grey Pants and Grey Suit Jacket
Option 5: Grey Pants and Black Suit Jacket
Option 6: Grey Pants and White Suit Jacket
Option 7: White Pants and White Suit Jacket
Option 8: White Pants and Black Suit Jacket
Option 9: White Pants and Grey Suit Jacket
Men’s Accessories for Derby Day
In terms of the accessories, we’ve definitely got you sorted for any of the options above.
First thing’s first - choose the best necktie. OTAA has a huge collection of Derby Day Ties and skinny ties in solid black, white, grey and in patterns and fun motifs. Depending on which option you go with, try and find the right tie that’s going to either be the focus of the entire look or complement the colour of the suit jacket, pants and shirt.
As a general guide, if you are wearing a monochrome suit jacket and pant that has either a pattern or a bold texture with a white shirt, you could go for a solid coloured black tie to bring the look together whilst not overwhelming the look with too many patterns. If you have a plain white shirt, pants and suit jacket, definitely opt for some more patterned neckties such as polka dots, stripes or paisleys.
The key accessories for men on Derby Day are a tie, pocket square and buttonhole or lapel pin or lapel flower. You could also wear one of OTAAs horse ties to match up on the day. Combining all of some of these elements on your outfit with the right tones and patterns will create a bold, striking look. But how many of these elements are you suppose to use in your outfit? Can you wear a tie or bow tie, pocket square and a lapel flower? You definitely can if you choose the right coloured and sizes for each accessory so that one does not overwhelm the other and attention is given to the main accessory that you want all eyes on.
Some go-to options for accessorising can be found below. This is a good guide if you’re not sure where to start.
Option 1: Necktie, Lapel Flower and Pocket Square
Option 2: Necktie and Lapel Flower
Option 3: Necktie and Pocket Square
Mix it up on the day by wearing black, white and grey tones. A great way to add pattern and texture to the overall look is to go for a subtly checkered suit, knitted ties, linens and cottons and embed a whole lot of paisleys and polka dots.
On the Victoria Derby Day, the gates open at 8.30am and the first race kicks off at around 11.45am – head on down with your smooth get up and get ready to have a punt.