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It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly animal ears traversed the line between the worlds of costume and fashion, but they’ve definitely arrived in the later. Animal ears had been timidly popping up in collections from high street fashion labels sporadically over the last few years, but when British reality T.V star Millie Mackintosh was photographed wearing a ‘cat veil’ in 2013, they were truly confirmed as a fashion accessory. Following her flaunt of the fury accessories, many a mane has become adorned with the auditory instruments of various woodland creatures.

Animal print, animal motifs and (unfortunately) animal skin have been a mainstay of fashion for as long as we can remember, but how animal ears managed to become en vogue is just as mystifying as the Minotaurs they mirror. Japanese Kawaii culture may have something to do with it – the word ‘kawaii’ literally means ‘cute’ and what’s cuter than bunny ears?

However, like everything else that has curiously managed to wheedle it’s way into the world of fashion, we fashion girls can always find a way to make these trends work. And none more so than the gorgeous ladies attendees of this year’s Melbourne races; bringing a stylish twist to a famously conservative dress code.

The Victoria Racing Club website stipulates that women cannot wear denim, shorts, playsuits, jumpsuits or thongs. Bare midriffs and ‘designer tears’ are also taboo meaning that really, there isn’t much room for experimentation when it comes to dressing for the Melbourne races.

On the flipside, hats are pretty much mandatory when it comes to race wear, however as formal headwear is not a part of every day life, millinery selection can be a risky business. Every girl who cares about style knows that there is a fine line between elegant headwear and looking like part of an eccentric English wedding; and it’s this idea that will give any self-respecting fashion girl cold sweats when it comes to her sartorial choices for a racing event.

Thankfully, this is not a problem for the innovative ladies of Australia who once again showed the world that the word ‘hat’ defines a large spectrum of accessories that can be placed on a girl’s head.

Over the full week’s program of race events, we saw a variety of bonnets, fascinators, crowns and veils, but what we really loved, were the animal ears. A salute to the fascinator, the animal ear accessories we saw came in all colours, shapes and sizes. Cat ears remained the firm favourite but we saw lacy ears, raffia ears, sparkly ears, rounded ears, pointy ears…

Ears of all shapes and sizes were paired with immaculate formal dresses and cocktail costumes, spotlighting the ladies who chose this quirky headwear as women unafraid to experiment with their style, and who don’t take themselves too seriously.

There is a lot to be said for classic millinery but wearing animal ears as a race accessory is a simple reinvention of a traditional trend. The animal-eared outfits were elegant yet unconventional, showing us that formal wear is not just for the more mature woman. 

The Fashion Advocate x 

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