I’d like to preface this post by saying that Angela Menz is much more skilled at Fashions on the Field competitions than I am. She’s won more, she’s made more finals and she is one of the most creative and stylish people I’ve ever met. But I’ve got some runs on the board, mostly here in the UK, and used to enter the Australian competitions on a regular basis, so I hope I can impart some useful knowledge on the subject and may it help those who love Fashions on the Field competitions as much as I do.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately I cannot guarantee that what I’m about to say will guide you to a Fashions on the Field or Best Dressed title. If you’ve entered one before, you’ll know how hard they are to win. Having now been on both sides of the catwalk (as an entrant and a judge), I feel better equipped to bust some Fashions on the Field myths that may help or hinder your progress in the competition.

As we both started writing our posts, it became evident that we have a ridiculous amount of Fashions on the Field knowledge stored in our hatted heads and, as such, we’ll be releasing our guides one part at a time (mostly so you don’t fall asleep!), so keep checking back for our latest installments.

Part I: I’m not a size eight model, I can’t win Fashions on the Field

I firmly believe this is a myth and the reason why you don’t see that many size 12+ women winning Fashions on the Field is because they generally don’t wear outfits that suit their body shape.

The most important part of dressing for any occasion is to know your body shape and which styles complement it…

Yes, there have been plenty of size eight models who have won Fashions on the Field, but there’s a couple of reasons why: 1) before they brought in the rule banning third parties’ input in Fashions on the Field entries, professional designers used to enter bespoke outfits and hire models to wear them in the competition (like us mere mortals can compete with that!), and 2) every trend looks good on a tall, size eight body.

What this means is that if you are a larger (read: regular) size, you will just have to try harder to find styles and trends to suit your body shape.

From left: athletic/boyish, top heavy, pear-shaped, and hourglass body types.

From left: athletic/boyish, top heavy, pear-shaped, and hourglass body types.

  • If you have an athletic or boyish shape (that’s me!) you should try to emphasise your waist to add curves. Do Wear: skirts which sit either slightly above or on the waist; dresses which are balanced at the shoulders and hem (say, puff shoulders and a flared skirt), or are tailored at the waist; body-con dresses with panelled seams; belts or sashes to define your waist; jackets cropped at the waist or tailored jackets; drop-waist designs (only if you are thin); most colours and all-over prints are ok. Don’t Wear: tight shift dresses; hipster skirts; long jackets; lighter colours around your waist (always go darker); vertical stripes.

athletic_boyish

Styles for athletic or boyish figures from Myer‘s spring/summer 2014 collection. Clockwise from left: Nicola Finetti dress, $480;  Morrison dress, $369; Arthur Galan AG dress, $498; Basque jacket, $130; Jayson Brunsdon jacket, $499, and skirt, $349; Aurelio Costarella skirt, $320.

  • If you have a top-heavy figure, restrict the volume to your bottom half. Do wear: peplum, full, tulip and A-line skirts; tailored jackets; sleeveless tops and tops with fitted sleeves; bright and light colours below the waist and dark colours on top. Don’t wear: padded, puff or prominent shoulders; capes; ruffled, boat and cowl necklines; pencil skirts; bright colours and patterns above the waist.

top_heavy1

Styles for those with large shoulders or enviably big busts from Myer. Clockwise from left: Ellery dress, $790; Manning Cartell top, $349; Maticevski dress, $1350, and skirt, $900; Cue top, $225; Ellery skirt, $490; McQ skirt, $1000; McQ dress, $1600.

  • If you are pear-shaped you should do the opposite and keep the volume up the top. Do wear: ruffled, cowl and boat necklines; puff, padded and prominent shoulders; capes; knee-length full skirts (no shorter); pencil skirts; empire-line bodices; shorter length jackets; darker tones below the waist; brighter colours, prints and texture on your torso. Don’t wear: peplum, tulip and hipster skirts; mini full skirts and A-line skirts; drop-waist dresses; hip-length jackets; dark colours on your top half; bold colours and prints below your waist.

pear-shaped

New season designs for those with womanly hips. Clockwise from left: Ellery dress, $1350; Manning Cartell skirt, $449; YB J’Aime top, $150; Ellery top, $295, and skirt, $840; Nicola Finetti jacket, $475; McQ dress, $450; Arthur Galan AG jacket, $449.

  • If you have an hourglass figure, you’re one of the lucky ones – flaunt your curves! Do wear: body-con dresses; pencil and full skirts; tailored jackets; V-necklines; belts and sashes around your waist; most colours and small prints. Don’t wear: thinner, stretchy fabrics (if they’re too tight you run the risk of looking trashy); plunging necklines and shorts skirts at the same time (ditto); drop-waist dresses; empire-line bodices; loose silhouettes; unless you are quite toned, bold prints (such as stripes and geometric patterns), as they can distort easily and magnify your not-so-favourite areas.

hourglass1

Spring styles for women with balanced curves. Clockwise from left: Karen Walker dress, $385; Nicola Finetti dress, $425; Maticevski skirt, $1300; M Missoni dress, $975; Manning Cartell top, $349; Nicola Finetti dress, $420; Maticevski top, $650.

As you can see, there are plenty of great looks available for all body shapes and lots of trends to suit everyone. When Spring Carnival shopping, I’d suggest devoting an entire day to trying on lots of different styles, and make sure you step out of your comfort zone – even the ones you don’t find that appealing on the hanger may pleasantly surprise you. Take full-length selfies on your phone in the changing room to aid you in assessing your looks, as it can often be hard to “get” the overall look by studying yourself in the mirror.

And the number one rule: don’t lie to yourself about your body shape. Embrace what you have and learn to flaunt what you’ve got, for we all are overly critical of ourselves and our looks, but we are all capable of looking goddamn gorgeous!

Photo credits: all looks are from Myer’s new spring/summer designer 2014 collections. Visit myer.com.au to shop the styles.

By Lisa Tan