Fashion | Nail your Derby Day outfit planning

A raceday style theme that calls for black and white should make finding the right outfit as clear as black and white, right?

Well for many people, it's possibly a little more of a grey area so today we've got you the 101 on how you can dress to the theme of Vodafone Derby Day which is happening here this Saturday 5 March.


Firstly, why black and white?

Derby days around the world (with the exception of Kentucky's big day which is anything but!) are traditionally black and white. There's a few tales about why this is so - and, while the exact reason hasn't been determined – it ranges from what one of the jockeys "accidentally" wore in the first ever Derby in the UK, through to inspiration from My Fair Lady and even that fact it was a marketing ploy - for whisky – back in the day.

Whatever the reason behind it, it can certainly be of help in terms of narrowing down the options when you're working out what to wear to the races!

Ambassador Carena West nailing the Derby look on a recent shoot here | Styling by Claire Hahn

Have fun with it!

While the theme says "black and white", perhaps it should read "black and / or white" as anything goes - from incorporating both into your outfit, to going head-to-toe in either white or black, or just simply wearing whatever colour you like!

With the day traditionally hosting the national racewear final (which is now taking place online at a later date thanks to that thing beginning with C), it's usually leaned towards being glamorous and sophisticated.

Keep in mind...

If you’re incorporating whites in your outfit, make sure that the tones match. Crisp white and ivory don’t typically work together.

Monochrome need not be minimal

Just because your colour palette is limited to one or two doesn't mean you can't have some fun – this is your opportunity to wear something different to normal!

If you've decided to go monochrome, have a go at mixing different textures to help keep things interesting.

Don't be afraid to emphasise your silhouette, to get a ready-to-wear piece customised or even try out a voluminous or sleek shape if that's something you're not normally accustomed to doing.

Nail the basics

You've heard it all before but, in terms of dress (or skirt!) length, remember you're dressing for a DAY at the RACES – not a night in town.

Talk a walk on the wild (or comfortable!) side...

You may also want to bear in mind that you'll likely have a better day if you're wearing something that's comfortable and reflects who you are – you'll always have a better day at the races if you're wearing something you feel $1,000,000 in!

Equally, don't be afraid to take some risks either – a day at the races is the perfect place to go all-out and wear something you mightn't usually. Plus, others will be doing it too, so you'll effectively be 'fitting in' by doing so.

It's not all black and white!

While the day's style theme encourages racegoers to get into the Derby spirit and wear black and (or!) white, this is not mandatory with many racegoers opting to wear other colours instead.

Want to stick to the theme but can't go without a little touch of something? HELLO red lip!


Vodafone Derby Day is happening here at Ellerslie this Saturday 5 March as part of Auckland Cup Week 2022.

The day features the running of the Group 1 $1,000,000 Vodafone New Zealand Derby with select hospitality precincts open and each catering to a maximum of 100 people each (excl. staff) and operating under the COVID-19 Protection Framework Protocol.