Melbourne Cup outfits 2023: Photo proves men don’t want to wear shorts

Forget sexy cut outs and backless gowns, it was all about releasing the hairy pins at the Melbourne Cup this year.

Well, at least that’s the scene we’d expect to see walking through the iconic Flemington gates following the Victoria Racing Club’s (VRC) updated dress regulations for those in the prestigious members areas.

Despite the blockes getting the green light to don their short shorts, and the fact it was absolutely scorching in Melbourne on Tuesday, those bougie marquee boys weren’t actually keen on lying on their knees while sipping champagne.

While those enjoying Cup festivities in general admission don’t have outfit restrictions and have been rocking shorts for years, it has been believed rules in the Birdcage required to relax in a similar manner, to offer men more choices and comfort.

It seems the VRC got this very wrong.

Sure, there were some who decided to ditch their restrictive pants and go for gold, such as AFL player Campbell Brown who was pictured entering the Birdcage in a pair of blue floral shorts, paired with the mandatory shirt and suit jacket.

Brown told he’d decided to embrace the new rule “purely due to weather”.

“I was working on radio for 7.5 hours and wanted to be comfortable and not too hot, so I chose shorts and loafers today,” he said.

“It was a smart decision.”

But overwhelmingly, the men in members areas decided to revolt, ruling with their pants that it was better to be sweaty than adopting the leg-baring style of those in GA.

Aside from Brown, there didn’t appear to be many more choosing shorts over a full suit pant.

For some, the lack of hairy legs on show was pretty disappointing. After all, who doesn’t want to see their favorite celeb dressed like an oiled-up Love Island contestants?

Some of Australia’s biggest fashion experts however told they weren’t the least bit surprised, stating “tradition would always reign supreme” at the Melbourne Cup.

Sydney stylist Jess Pecoraro said that while dress codes were once stiff and rigid, they’re now too loose, and are at risk of spoiling the spectacle of the Cup.

“Some rules were pretty crazy, not too long ago women weren’t allowed to wear pants, but we’ve gone too far the other way,” she said.

“We used to have great middle ground rules and you always knew what the brief was.

“We need to keep some form of tradition, we’ve lost too much of it along the way.”

Ms Pecoraro, who styled racing royalty Kate Waterhouse for this year’s Cup, added it was “nice” to see men in suits.

“Racing is so different to any other event, it’s nice to have that classic style,” he said.

“It’s such a special day, a lot of those members have horses, it’s a day for them to get dressed up.

“We don’t want men in shorts.”

Melbourne stylist Victoria Olabuntu echoed this, stating: “I for one love the tradition when it comes to race wear. So I don’t like the fact that men can now get around in shorts.”

The fashion expert, who regularly shares outfit tips and advice on Studio 10, added she was keen to “move with the times” but still preferred pants.

“There is something spectacular about a man in a great suit,” he added.

“Maybe I will embrace shorts at some point, just not at this moment in time.”

Photos taken of both the celebrities and the high-rollers inside the Birdcage appear to support this sentiment.

In one photo, a group of men in matching navy blue suits can be seen traipsing through 31 degree heat, the fabric of their pants no doubt sticking to their clammy legs.

When asked, some guys admitted they had “no idea” the rules had changed, with one particularly miffed punter declaring: “You’re joking? I could have stopped my balls from sweating off.”

However others were far less enthusiastic, with one long-running VRC member explaining the newly permitted ensemble simply “doesn’t look right”.

“It’s just wrong, I’d never let my husband do it,” she insisted, sharing she was “utterly appalled”.

Jane Lu, founder of fashion boutique SHOWPO, said that while she “understands wanting to be comfortable and relaxed, nothing beats tradition and dressing to impress”.

“Just like Christmas has its traditions, so does racing season,” the current Shark on Shark Tank Australia told

“We were once too strict, but now we’re too relaxed.”

Meanwhile readers have declared they are largely against shorts in the Birdcage, with hundreds of readers voting “no” when asked about Campbell Brown’s race day look on Facebook.

“Looks absolutely ridiculous, something you would wear at the beach,” one person wrote.

“Shorts need to be banned again,” another reasoned.

As one angry Aussie declared: “Very wrong for a Melbourne Cup Race Day.”

“Absolutely not!!!! I like that the races are the one day you are supposed to get dressed up! Make an effort,” someone else lamented.

However, there were plenty in the “yes” camp too, arguing it shouldn’t matter what anyone wears – you can still embrace “the spirit of the Cup”.

“You should be able to wear whatever you’re comfortable with,” one said.

“Nothing wrong with shorts,” another mused.

Whether or not the VRC will backtrack for the 2024 Melbourne Cup Carnival is yet to be seen, but even with the option to wear shorts trackside, it doesn’t seem like many blocks will be taking it up anytime soon.

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