Part two of my How to Win Fashions on the Field series is all about the logistics involved in entering and being involved in Fashions on the Field. Some of the ideas are quite basic, but it’s been the details that have tripped me and others up from time to time in regards to taking part in Fashions on the Field competitions.

Because I often travel long distances to the races and Fashions on the Field, planning out all the details is very important. First up you need to check if there will be a Fashions on the Field competition on. Don’t assume a competition will be held just because it was on the previous year. I consult a racing calendar to know where and when the majority of the Fashions on the Field events are but I can still get surprised or find out about something new. We’ll aim to keep you up to speed here at On Track On Trend about any upcoming Fashions on the Field events.

Know what the judges are looking for by reading the judging criteria

Once you’ve decided which day you’ll be attending the races to enter Fashions on the Field, it’s a good idea to see what categories will be open on the day. Check if there are any rules you must adhere to for entry. Millinery for ladies is always a requirement, and sometimes there might be more specific rules about hem lengths or colour themes for example. I’m all for breaking the the unwritten rules of Fashion on the Field but if there’s specific rules of entry you must follow them, or you might find yourself turned away at the registration desk. Check any judging criteria listed, because that’s what the judges will refer to when trying to decide on their winners. I also find it good to see if there’s any extra details in the local newspapers about Fashions on the Field competitions.

Black Opal, Canberra. This particular year had a black and white theme for Fashions on the Field

If you can, prior to the event check out how the competition will run. Not all Fashions on the Field competitions involve lining up on stage in heats, although the majority do. Some competitions may require you to pose for a photograph, or be selected by spotters. For the bigger competitions you might be required to return for the finals at a later date. On the day details that might be handy to know include if you will need to line up for a long time to enter the heats? Or if you make the final will it be held much later in the day? Also will you need to collect votes if you make the final? This isn’t about how to Win Fashions on the Field, but important if you want to place bets on the horses and try your luck punting. It also means you can plan out your day at the track. Knowing how the competition works might help you to relax if you’re feeling nervous.

Understand how the different competitions work

Fashions on the Field Held in the middle of Myer, Sydney. This event felt very different to being at a racetrack

Check the registration times and give yourself plenty of time to arrive on course and make your way to the Fashions on the Field desk. If there is pre-registration, sign up prior to the event so you have one less thing to worry about on the day. I also plan out all my travel times to and from the track and allow a buffer just in case something goes wrong. This year I had a taxi not show up and another time there was rail works so my trip to the races took much longer than expected. Lisa and I both have examples of learning this the hard way. The first time I went to Mornington there was a delay with the trains and the trip from Melbourne ended up taking  three hours with an extra half hour being stuck lining up at the gate. I just made the heat after phoning the club and telling them I was on the way, but now I’m always extra careful. For Lisa one Oaks day she was calling a friend and I from a taxi because there was a delay in traffic. Lucky she’s a fast runner and she sprinted from the entrance at Flemington to Fashions on the Field and was the last contestant on stage for the competition. It was well worth it as she made the next round!

Now for some of the nitty gritty details. I’ve had great discussion with many fellow contestants over the years about which heat to go in. Is it best to go in the first heat? Or is it best to go in the last heat? Should you stay away from certain contestants because you don’t want to compete against them on stage. I’ve come to realise that it almost never matters. Certainly if someone was wearing a similar outfit you wouldn’t want to stand right next to them but generally the winner is a stand out and the judges will spot the winner regardless of who or what is going on around them. Personally I try to separate in heats from good friends because then you have the chance to take nice photos and cheer for each other.

Chadstone Fashion Stakes, Caulfield

If there’s two or more categories you can enter, should you save your outfit to wow the judges and only enter one category? I never know how someone else will see my outfit. So what I see as classic, might be contemporary for another. I enter what I can on the day because a judge might see your outfit differently to yourself.

Familiarise yourself with the stage before your heat. Ensure you know where you have to walk to and where you have to stop and show off your outfit. You’ll feel more confident if you know what you have to do onstage. If in doubt, follow the person before you and listen and look out for a friendly organiser to help you out with when to leave the stage.

This stage at Launceston was a square and contestants had to keep walking in a loop as the judges made their decision.

Finally it’s important to dress for the race day you’re attending. Often I see stunning outfits but they have been worn on the wrong day. If you’re a regular racegoer or observer of the races you’ll know each race day has its own feel or theme to it. Back in 2003 Elizabeth Gaunt wore her outfit to Derby Day and didn’t make it past the first round. She then (following the advice of a journalist) returned on Oaks Day in the same outfit and went home with the winners sash. Her feminine dusty pink and bronze silk outfit didn’t look right for Derby Day, but was perfect for Oaks. If in doubt and don’t know where to start have a look at photos from the previous years event. Many race clubs put photos up online and on their facebook pages.

Elizabeth Gaunt in her winning outfit (image- melbournecup.com)

By Angela Menz