Top Tips for Nailing Raceday Fashion this Summer

The Capital is gearing up for the biggest summer party on the region’s social calendar – the NZCIS Wellington Cup Day, held at Trentham Racecourse on Saturday 29 January 2021.

The opportunity for stakes and winnings doesn’t stop with the racegoers, it’s a chance for people young and old to get dressed up and socialise after a turbulent year in and out of lockdowns.

Fashion stylist and judge of the Wellington Cup Gazley Mercedes – Benz Wellington Fashion in the Field Lou Heller has given us her top tips on being race day ready this summer! Plus keep reading for your chance to score one of three Wellington Cup Day double passes!


Turning heads is what raceday is all about, whether it’s turning heads to watch the winning horse cross the line or turning heads wearing your finest refinery. Racewear is an essential part of the day, and not to be scoffed at. As part of the line-up, I am honoured to be on the panel, judging the infamous Wellington Cup Day Fashion in the Field. I feel I have a part to play in the education of expectations, and what could set you apart, regardless of entering or not.

For me, racewear conjures up words of elegance, boldness, and sophistication. While an exaggerated silhouette might be the norm, I’ve always said it’s a fashion set all on its own – there is simply no other event that matches it.

With that in mind, racewear is meant to be fun and frivolous so let me introduce you to some pondering thoughts I have.


That is the question…

When I first judged, I felt there was a need to match less, while still bringing it together seamlessly. Think floral headpiece but paired with checks or stripes whilst still bringing together a synergy that makes it sing. Find one colour that matches across the outfit, and then pair back with accessories to make it work seamlessly.


When it comes to either entering Fashion in the field or just as a punter, dress codes are something we must adhere to, but sadly over time these have become relaxed. Maybe due to covid, I feel it has slowly become the norm to go for easy options because we don’t want to stand out. As we are attending an event where it’s tradition to embrace the pomp and show of the day, I say go big or go home, and allow yourself to push yourself.

Give yourself the permission to play and try something you haven’t before as long as you stay true to who you are.

Think of three words of how you want to feel on the day, and you will match that and want to wear something that allows you to feel confident in it.


From fascinators to hats to hatinators, headwear trends change year on year. According to esteemed milliner Belinda Green, it’s all about the headbands in 2022 “as they are easy, and people feel comfortable in them”.

What I personally love about headbands is they can be worn literally with most outfits. They come in a plethora of colours, thicknesses, fabrics, and can be decorated too if you are looking for some pizazz. Headbands can be found at most fashion stores, or online and suit most budgets. Hats for men are a wonderful addition to any outfit, as well as clean shoes.


Trends are always going to come and go, and with race fashion, there will always be an element of guidelines that should be adhered to.

Classic lines, mixed with “shooshed to the nines” is a hard balance too.

My picks moving forward – The Mini Bag is going to be huge, and the ‘over the top hat’ is making a comeback. We aren’t just talking about any old hats, I’m talking berets, captain style hats, and the larger the better when it comes to your “hat”. The head wear is literally the piece that brings everything together so taking the time to make it zing is for the better! I can never go past netting as there is something about the demure hiding that is slightly sexy in a forgiving way. I feel there is always room for going outside the box when it comes to race day, think the head scarf and full turban. Pearls are another trend coming through.

I love seeing anything that is slightly contemporary in a sea of similar classic shapes – think tuxedo’s, colour or mixing of both. Again, the mixing the textures is going to be really big this year – from netting and drill, hessian and silks, crochets mixed with satin – dare to go bold and colourful.


For us lady folk I would say “don’t leave it to last minute”. If wearing an outfit from the past, check if it needs dry-cleaning. Work through and plan your outfit. How do you want to feel on the day? Think about your overall look form head to toe, and don’t spare the details.

Race day is all about balance, but it’s about going that extra level.

Prep your skin, as you’ll be wearing make-up, so I recommend a face mask and hydration leading up to the Saturday to allow your skin to feel ready to wear a heavy amount for the entire day.

Sunscreen, water, and shoes that are sexy, but day worthy are a must. Think mules, wedges and anything that has a stacked heel for comfort.

I’ll see you there, Wellington, Lou x

Go in the draw to win one of three doubles passes up for grabs!

Simply fill out the form below for your chance to win a double pass to NZCIS Wellington Cup Day! Entrants must be double vaccinated and have a My Vaccine Pass for scanning upon entry. For Wellington Racing Club Terms & Conditions, Click Here.

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