Melbourne’s Spring Racing carnival is just around the corner. It’s time to break away from our Winter Wardrobe and celebrate with a new outfit in a flattering silhouette, or a bright pop of colour!

A new outfit doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Some careful planning, a few intentional purchases along with lots of creativity can go a long way. This is particularly true for Mamas who are styling a bump; you’re probably weary of spending on a dress that might only last you for a good nine months or so. We have some thoughts on that (read on!)

Here’s our easy lots-of-frills guide on how to choose a maternity outfit for the Race Day Carnival in 3 easy steps.

 

1. Read Up on the Dress Code

Make sure you’re familiar with each race day’s dress code. Here’s a summary of the vibe of each day and associated dress guidelines.

Derby Day is all about classic elegance. It’s a strictly black and white dress code. Monochrome separates are popular, as are black and white prints.

Style Your Bump Tip: A body-hugging silhouette will flatter your bump and makes for a perfect Derby Day maternity outfit. Black is slimming, and white is a refreshing, youthful colour for a Spring event. Pick a piece with a demure silhouette and you can re-wear it for work, or other formal events. The key to changing the look of your outfit is in the accessories.

Melbourne Cup Day is the biggest event of the season, so pull out your race-day best! Embrace bright, bold, colourful, expressive maternity dresses for the Melbourne Cup.

Style Your Bump Tip: If you don’t want to go too crazy with your maternity dress (because you want something that you can wear again), invest in a bright block coloured maternity dress and play up the drama with your accessories. Think statement-making jewellery, oversized hats, and slingback heels.

Oaks Day is also affectionately known as ladies’ day. This is the event to embrace your femininity – think laces, florals, pastels and frills.

Style Your Bump Tip: Oaks Day is super easy to dress for when you’re pregnant. A lot of maternity dresses for special occasions leans towards the use of elegant florals and lace. Choose one with hidden zippers for easy-breastfeeding access and you can extend the life of the dress to postpartum nursing days.

Stakes Day is all about enjoying the atmosphere with family and friends, so the dress code is much more relaxed. Go for printed cottons, or an easy picnic friendly maternity dress.

Style Your Bump Tip: Choose a comfortable, longer length maternity dress; comfort is the key! A lightweight breathable fabric is a good option for warmer days.

Here are some of our favourite chic maternity dresses for the Spring Racing Carnival:

 

The Magic Cream Dress with its delicate lace work and hidden breastfeeding access is a great pick for either Derby Day or Oaks Day.

The Pandora Powder Dress is a great summer maternity dress, perfect for pairing with statement jewellery for Melbourne Cup Day. The streamlined tailoring paired with jacquard fabric means it can easily be re-worn for work and other functions.

race day maternity dress

The Lovely Navy Dress is beautifully feminine with its blue lace details and sateen sash, perfect for Oaks Day. It can also be worn for Stakes Day, as it’s crafted from elastic and a comfortable lace fabric.

 

2. Maximise What You Have

After familiarising yourself with each race day’s dress code and having a brief idea of the type of outfit that you want to wear, dig into your current wardrobe…. is there anything there that you can use?

Depending on the progression of your pregnancy, some people are able to fit into certain styles of regular dresses (ie. floaty dresses or dresses with a relaxed fit). Others are able to borrow from family or friends. However, the majority of us will opt to invest in a few well-made maternity dresses for special occasions. Sometimes being able to ‘fit’ in a dress, does not mean it is comfortable or flattering.

Maternity dresses are specifically designed to accommodate your growing bump in a way that larger sizes in regular clothes do not. Larger clothes in regular sizes often have shoulders and waistlines that are too wide (because it’s mainly our bump that’s growing and not our entire frame!) It’s a good investment to purchase a few quality maternity dresses that fit you well, can be dressed up or down in a myriad of ways, which you love and can wear again and again on different occasions. Dresses that have discreet breastfeeding access are an added bonus and will extend the life of your dress well beyond pregnancy days.

In the accessories department, you may have plenty of existing pieces that you can use or borrow: millinery/fascinator, statement jewellery, belts, clutches and (sometimes) even shoes.

 

3. Play with Accessories to Complete Your Outfit

There are no definitive rules on how to best accessorise your outfit. The best thing to do is just to play around – the more you do it, the better you get. This is the perfect way to show off your ‘eye’, your personality and your style.

If you’re really stuck, here are some general guidelines to get you started:
  • Plain outfits – let your accessories do the talking!
  • Busy outfits – opt for understated accessories.
  • You can try theming your accessories (for example, going for a look from a particular era).
  • When choosing colours for the accessories, you may want to pick a colour from your dress, or you might want to introduce a new colour altogether (opposite colours on the colour wheel often work well). If you’re unsure, touches of metallic (gold/silver) are safe, classic choices.
    The Spring Racing Carnival is a great opportunity to step out into the sunshine and relax with family and friends (and your bump!) Embrace your beautiful growing belly and dress it up in style.