Embracing winter fashion with style

23 May 2023 Written by Kirstie Clements

Given that we have reached our autumn/winter season here in Australia, it’s time to apply the elegant principles from the runways of Europe to Flemington. Former Vogue editor Kirstie Clements updates us with what to wear trackside in the cooler months.


The recent international runway shows presented everything from the weird to the wonderful, but hidden in amongst it all was a season of the most beautiful coats we’ve seen in a long time. Traditionally, coats for the racing season have been confined to the classic, such as cocktail-style shifts with matching coats or a colourful cocoon coat over a dress.

However, big wintry coats have made a comeback with a vengeance, and the biggest trend in Europe was long coats, reaching midcalf or ankle length. The styles varied widely from soft wrap coats with big collars that had a 1930s feel, to military greatcoats or simple one-buttoned, solid-coloured cashmere coats, clean and minimal.

A long statement coat is a perfect option for chilly days trackside, worn with a skirt, tights and sturdy ankle boots with chunky soles. This was another huge trend from the shows that can be just as easily applied to the colder race days.

(Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)


Colours this season are more subdued and moody, rather than neon bright. Colour combinations are warm. Think lilac against chocolate, molten yellow against navy, red next to camel. And of course black, black and more black (unless its grey).

Coats can be as low key or as high octane as you prefer. While there are countless options in black, camel, olive and chocolate brown, there are also coats of many colours to choose from depending on your mood. Designer Dries Van Noten struck a beautiful balance by splashing gold paint on a soft ochre wool coat, while The Row presented a perfect red coat accentuated with red gloves.

The great cover up

When it comes to coats, it seems as if there is no clear trend or silhouette to be followed. Choose from:

  • Soft wrap bathrobe coats in wool or cashmere.
  • Stricter stiff greatcoat styles with double breasted front.
  • Elegant car coats with voluminous, built-in scarves.
  • Cuddly cocoon coats, tactile fabrics like fake fur or boucle such as Max Mara’s famous teddy-bear coat.
  • Leather military styles, double-breasted and long line.

(Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

What to wear underneath

Another beautiful trend coming out of Europe were roomy coats cut with couture precision sitting hip length or knee length. These were especially lovely at Miu Miu, paired with straight skirts in herringbone tweed. What really set them apart was the beautiful layers underneath – thin knits or a neatly buttoned cardigan over a T-shirt. Adopt this chic layering for the races, as it not only provides protection against the cold but also enables you to shed pieces if and when the weather changes throughout a long day.

It also might be time to think about trousers as an option.  Try beautifully tailored pants tucked into knee high, flat equestrian boots worn with a silk blouse or a fine knit steamed with a generous, three-quarter coat over the top.

Traditional suiting shades of black, grey, camel, dark brown and cream are certainly a good choice if you are planning to splash out on a coat as an investment piece, as classic neutrals will be worn time and time again. The vivid color blocking and lollipop colours that we saw last year have taken somewhat of a back seat to beautifully blended neutrals. For those seeking more colour opt for lavender, loden green, deep pink or French blue.

(Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)

Accessories and footwear

The quiet old-world luxury aesthetic has also extended its reach into accessories. Rather than quirky cocktail bags or shiny patents, the trend now is towards crinkled leathers, casual crossbody bags and squishy, soft shapes.

If the weather has really turned Arctic, think about donning gloves, although this season make them the same colour as your coat rather than clashing them for super chic impact.

Boots also reign supreme: chunky moon boots or sleek riding boots, both of them a comfortable and welcome addition to winter racewear. For those who prefer to wear heels, the kitten heel slingback and pointy toed flats are back in focus, as are slip-on men style loafers. It’s a fresh concept for racewear, one that veers more towards dressed down, stealthy Ralph Lauren chic than sparkly high glam.


Millinery is not just reserved for spring. This shift towards tailoring means that fabric hats and simple shapes make the perfect pairing on the cooler months. Fedoras, Trilbys, berets and jockey’s caps are all glamorous partners to a classic coat. There is also the opportunity to make a personal style statement, and commission a bespoke headpiece that tells its own story, and can be especially show stopping if worn with strict tailoring.


Think about experimenting with new nail colours for race day. Pale blues, lavenders, shiny peach French manicures and dark nude shades are all having a moment this winter.