Australia’s horse racing clubs are known for their strict dress code. Dressing for the occasion is said to be an important part of the race day experience.
Ladies are required to wear their best dresses and headwear, and men likewise need to wear a suit, shirt, tie and leather shoes to get access to the exclusive member’s area.
Up until recently, men were also required to wear socks in the member’s area of the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) where the Melbourne Cup race is held, however the club overturned the rule at the start of this racing season “in light of current fashion trends”.
“The Club has decided to change its policy in regards to dress shoes and socks,” Caroline Ralphsmith, VRC Executive General Manager of Customer Engagement said.
“Men in the VRC Members’ Enclosure can now choose not to wear socks.
“The change to our dress regulations recognises our customers’ fashion-forward tastes and reflects our awareness of sartorial trends,” she says.
We spoke to style expert and group CEO of Image Group Jon Michail about new “no-sock” look.
While he supports the fashion statement for casual wear, he’s definitely not a fan of it for the races.
He gave us three key reasons for why men should still wear socks to the races.
Here they are.
He acknowledges that Aussies can be pretty lax about their dress sense, but says traditional etiquette should always be respected.
“Look, as Australians we are very casual. I like the smart casual look, I even practice that. Personally, I like wearing sports jackets and blazers with chinos for a really smart casual look, with a loafer or a really smart casual shoe without a sock,” he says, adding that it’s about keeping with the protocols and etiquette.
“Before you know it, people will take it to the next level. So the moment you say ‘no socks’, why not ‘no ties?’
“People will always push the boundaries, but you have protocols for a reason. I mean, you would never go to a cocktail wedding wearing shorts and thongs!”
Project the right image
If you want to project “influence and power,” Jon Michail says the sockless look is a trend to steer clear of at such events as it looks too casual.
“You really want to stand out for all the right reasons,” he says.
“There are three right reasons: always colour, the fit, and the design — and if you want to be on trend, the design is what you need to focus on.”
Remember style is forever
Michail says there’s a big difference between a trend and style.
The sockless fashion to him is simply a passing trend and “has no sartorial substance.”
“Style is ever lasting. Trends are not. Tradition and the classics survive,” he says.
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