Blokes' guide to fashion at the races

23:16, Nov 06 2012
Cup Day mens fashion
FLOWER POWER: MisteR salsa shirt $250 and matching tie $80, with plaid-lined Jive jacket $620, all from Contemporary Lounge, Re:Start.

Please understand this men: Cup Week races are not a work do or a night on the town. They are fashion events and as such you need to know they are about what you're wearing, not what you are drinking or eating.

Let's start at the top

No shiny hair gel. It looks greasy. Either get a hat or grow a mop.

Does it suit you?

What is this whole suit business about? Can we mix it up a bit? Not to say there haven't been some great suits in the past but first things first.

Traditional pinstripes and black business suits are not for this occasion. Too serious. In the same mood, no military-style blazers, no business-styled blazers. If you want a jacket, get something light, maybe a pastel or pale tan but not black or grey. You're not going to a dinner party or an office, you're going to the races, mate! Cup Week is a chance to get away with a more adventurous get-up.

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A striking jacket over an outrageous shirt and tie offers up extra shock factor. Or maybe a well-cut plain jacket that offsets the shocking shirt/tie ensemble and ensures your admirers won't need sunglasses when they admire you.

Should the day promise a heatwave think cool and cotton - as in a light jacket. Should you find it impossible to see beyond pinstripes, a pale candy-striped blazer is a pretty good option. And if the weather turns crappy I recommend covering up under a Driza-bone. Everyone will think you are the man if you wear one of these. They are fashionable and practical, Christchurch's favourite two words when it comes to describing style.

So shirty

A jacket is always a fine thing to wear, but be sure to accompany it with a shirt with character. If it is hot you could have your jacket off most of the day and I say no un-ironed boring white shirts. More pattern please. A floral shirt is great for a Garden City bloke especially if the look is from a Christchurch design duo.

I have added a tie to my best shirt look. A tie that blends into the shirt may not make rational sense but I like that.

Cup Day could be a turning point if you are a classic kind of man but if you insist on playing it safe get a cotton oxford shirt. And iron it! If that is too hard just ask a woman for instructions.

You do not have to wear long sleeved shirts. I found a really nice (short sleeved) shirt that's worth a go.

Another option is a Bambowtie - I own the only one in town but I am happy to lend it. Or if you are feeling adventurous can I recommend a cravat? At any time of the night or day a cravat in Christchurch is a good talking point.

Wear the pants

For pants I am going to be bold and say avoid suit pants and definitely no jeans! No to jeans but yes to tight pants! No, no, no, not the extremely tight ones those little jockeys fit into. I'm thinking of J Press or Ralph Lauren designer pants, but maybe find another brand that doesn't exploit third world countries for cheap labour?

An excellent recommendation is a nice pair of chinos that won't mind if they get a bit dirty (races equal horses, mud and grass). Pale colours are your friend.

Best foot forward

Last but not least, boots I think are the only acceptable footwear for the races. You can get them dirty and they will then look even better than before, unlike dressy shoes which just look messy when they get muddy. For fun, add spice with crazy socks.

So there it is, familiarise yourself with my directions and have a fashionably fun day.

Finally, if affordability is your concern, I recommend checking out local op shops or digging around in your own wardrobe.

The Press