For almost 11 years I’ve competed regularly in Fashions on the Field competitions and entered well over 100 competitions. In that time I’ve traveled to various racetracks across Australia and won many competitions, including the Myer National Fashions on the Field at the Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2011. I have also sat on a number of judging panels and seen how Fashions on the Field works from both sides.

 

Judging duties Oaks Day Flemington 2012 Image- thehatbox.com.au

For everything cited in the popular media in the lead up the Spring Racing Carnival about do’s and don’ts for Fashions on the Field I’m fairly sure I’ll have a personal example that goes against the common advice that gets thrown around. Yes, sometimes that means I’ll look like a hot mess but before you strictly follow someone’s advice ask yourself how many competitions they’ve been in? Or judged? You might not agree with the approach that Lisa Tan or myself take but what I do know is we’ve both been in a hell of a lot of Fashions on the Field competitions and we’ve both been lucky enough to do OK at it.

Lisa and I at Derby Day 2007. My outfit was panned in the Herald Sun newspaper as a fashion DON’T! I even got a big cross next to my photo. I still have the outfit and I still like it.

When I’m putting together my outfits for Fashions on the Field there are a few things I always keep in mind. In my part of ‘How to Win Fashions on the Field’ I’ll take you through them and hopefully you’ll be inspired to try out some new ideas, pick up a few tips or be a little more fearless in putting together your outfits. When I look back at past outfits (and new ones coming together) there are a few common threads than run through my outfits and definitely in my successful winning outfits.

One reason I think I’ve done well in Fashion On the Field is because I always remain true to myself and my own style. Ok, so that sounds kinda corny but there’s not point dressing to please everyone around me if I don’t like my outfit. I simply love to dress up. Even when I’m not at the races I dress up because I like wearing fun clothes and they make me happy. Trying to be something I’m not sucks the fun out of dressing up.

I didn’t compete in this outfit, but it’s a favourite outfit of mine. It has so many things I like- bright colour, sequins, skulls, pom poms and flowers

 

My whole outfit here was based around my sunnies. Image- Marlia Franks

I generally don’t fuss too much with wearing all the things I’m supposed to. For example many people believe you need to wear hosiery to win Fashions on the Field but I don’t like to wear hosiery, so I rarely do. The idea that you must wear gloves is another. I love gloves and have collected a ridiculous number of pairs over the years but carrying gloves because someone told you that’s what ‘ladies’ do is overrated. I only pull my gloves out if they add something to my outfit. Also if I feel like wearing 10 rings, I will wear 10 rings. Or 10 necklaces – just because I want to and I can. Sequins shouldn’t be seen during the daytime? Again, if sequins are taking my fancy then I’ll be sparkling in the daytime sun.

Caulfield Blue Diamond Stakes 2010. No gloves, no hosiery, a pile of accessories and leather in the summer

Caulfield Blue Diamond Stakes 2010. No gloves, no hosiery, a pile of accessories and leather in the summer

Then there’s the idea that you must be elegant and ladylike to win Fashions on the Field. Sure, there are days when I wish to look elegant but it’s definitely not something I chase when putting together my outfits. At the track I see elegance attempted, but too often it ends up being a caricature of elegance rather than a true embodiment of elegance. I consider personal style more important than elegance.

Geannie Todaro. A perfect example of elegance and personal style. Image- theage.com.au

Showing off your personal style is so important in Fashions on the Field because one of the judging criteria in the Myer competitions (and many others) is to show Style and Originality. If you get up on stage in an outfit you’re not comfortable with or if someone else has dressed you it will show. If on the other hand you love your outfit and can’t wait to show it off, it will show too and for all the right reasons.

If you are comfortable with your clothes and personal styling, you give yourself the best chance of winning Fashions on the Field, of enjoying the day and of looking forward to the next competition.

Photo credits: www.thehatbox.com.au, Marlia Franks and theage.com.au.

By Angela Menz