Elle Ferguson & Joel Patfull Master Couple Dressing

The very concept of “couple dressing” can seem outdated, a sartorial relic of times gone by. But in the hands of the ever-fashionable Elle Ferguson and her fiancé Joel Patfull, the concept takes on a whole new meaning, whether they’re wearing distressed denim or adding a subtle injection of vintage. As Elle admits about their wardrobes, “Somehow we always end up going together, I don’t know how it happens but it just does.”

Even so, couple dressing for a high-profile event like the spring racing carnival is a different story – and it’s also the challenge we set for Elle, Joel, and stylist Dale McKie. As their winning race-day outfits show, it’s possible to match your partner in a modern and very cool way, by following a few simple guidelines...

Think yin and yang for Derby Day

The black-and-white dress code for Derby Day makes it tempting to try a head-to-toe match, but McKie makes a case for contrasting, instead. “It’s the yin and yang,” he explains. “Elle is in an ivory pantsuit with black accessories, so Joel went in the opposite direction, with a classic black suit to provide contrast.”

Elle Ferguson & Joel Patfull

Joel wears Country Road jacket and pants; Joe Black shirt; Florsheim shoes; Hardy Amies tie (in store only); David Jones pocket square; Alta Linea feather lapel pin (in store only); Ted Baker leather belt.

He also points to accessories as offering a more subtle way to match. “Joel’s black-and-white polkadot pocket square and feather tie pin with subtle polkadot detail match with Elle’s accessories. And his polished patent shoes match Elle’s patent heels.”

Elle Ferguson & Joel Patfull

Elle wears Viktoria & Woods blazer and pants; Farrah & Sloane handbag; Senso heels; Jill & Jack Millinery boater; Amber Sceats ring (in store only).

Joel notes that Derby Day is typically his favourite in the racing carnival. “I actually love that it’s all black and white dressing – you can’t go wrong!”

Try a subtle colour-match at Melbourne Cup

The secret to modern colour-matching, says McKie, is to keep it subtle. “Don’t be too literal and bold,” he cautions. “If the woman is wearing a bright pink dress, the guy shouldn’t simply wear a bright pink tie and pocket square. Choose a tie with a small element of the pink. Or maybe it’s a fun pair of socks with a peek of pink shining through.”

Elle Ferguson & Joel Patfull

Elle wears Cmeo Collective dress; Mimco clutch; Tony Bianco patent heels; Morgan & Taylor headband (in store only); Reliquia gold bangles; Amber Sceats ring.

Applying this rule to Joel’s accessories, McKie picked up the raspberry colour of Elle’s dress in a fresh way. “Joel’s pocket square is in a similar tone but brighter and more vibrant. This lifts and elevates the look so it’s not too matchy-matchy.”

Spring Racing fashion guide

Joel wears Ted Baker jacket and pants (in store only); Sand shirt; Florsheim shoes; Sand knitted tie (in store only); Hardy Amies pocket square (in store only); Alta Linea floral lapel pin (in store only).

Elle acknowledges that this is her favourite of the three outfits. “It was the first look of the day and when Joel walked out in that suit my heart skipped a beat and I couldn’t stop looking at him. It made me so excited to get dressed up for the races.”

Spring Racing fashion guide

Go tonal for Oaks Day

Matching accessories is one thing, but as McKie notes, “the most important element is the base of the look: the dress and the suit.” While these shouldn’t be the same colour, it helps to keep the tone of them consistent and for Oaks Day, this means leaning towards softer shades.

Elle Ferguson & Joel Patfull

“If you’re wearing soft tones like pastels, your partner shouldn’t wear black, which can be too harsh. Instead, he can complement your outfit with a navy or light grey suit. To complement Elle’s pastel green dress, we chose a pale blue micro-check suit for Joel, and teamed it with a paisley tie and pocket square that have subtle elements of the same green tone Elle is wearing. This ties their looks together without being too obvious. Joel’s light pink shirt also matches the colour of Elle’s soft pink heels.”

Elle Ferguson & Joel Patfull

Joel wears Joe Black jacket and pants; Sand shirt (in store only); Florsheim shoes; Joe Black tie; Monumental by Karen Walker sunglasses.

If you’re wearing soft tones like pastels, your partner shouldn’t wear black, which can be too harsh.

– Dale McKie

Elle Ferguson & Joel Patfull

Elle wears Thurley dress; Cult Gaia handbag; Tony Bianco slingbacks; Sylvy Earl headpiece.

Oaks Day also happens to the Elle’s favourite day of the spring carnival, “as it’s all about beauty, femininity, style and grace. Who doesn’t love to dress up and be super girly?”

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