Are you always complimented on your outfits when at the track? Do you love fashion and styling your own outfits? Are you handy with a sewing machine and love creating? All of these skills can be put to good use by entering a Fashions on the Field competition next time you are at the track. Here are a few things you should know to have everyone thinking you’re a seasoned professional!
Fashions on the Field (FOTF) requires you to dress appropriately for the current season. This means:
• Think millinery made from lighter fabrics such as straw or sinamay. Men, this applies to you too! An experienced FOTF judge will know the difference.
• Open toed shoes such as peeptoes and heeled sandals are great for this time of year, but make sure you have your toes looking in tip top shape with a fresh pedicure.
• Pastel and bright colours are all the go. Keep an eye on current colour trends.
• Wear lighter fabrics & show off a little more skin but not too much, as midriffs & strapless outfits are not always favoured by some race clubs.
• Think deeper colours such as burgundy, brown, orange, deep reds & dark greens.
• Millinery should be made from felt or heavier fabrics.
• During the cooler times of the year, think of covering up a little more, with furs, jackets and longer sleeve lengths often seen.
• Racing fashion is not the same as cocktail or evening wear. Think conservative hem lengths, generally knee to midi length hem lines and lady like elegance. Pant suits & jumpsuits are also now more accepted during FOTF competitions and look fresh all year round.
• Trans-seasonal millinery made from dress fabric, leather & metals can be worn all year round and are great for reusing again and again.
• Closed toe heels are acceptable all year round.
• Dressing to the weather of the day is also appropriate and items such as capes and boleros can be worn all year, as long as they compliment your outfit
• Hosiery is also acceptable all year, but only if you are wearing closed toe shoes. Choose a nude colour to match your skin tone. If you wish to wear hosiery with open toe shoes, make sure you buy the open toed style!
• Gloves are appropriate throughout the entire year and often add a finishing touch to an outfit, but can also detract if your outfit is too modern.
Do’s & Don’ts
All race clubs have different rules about how they run, judge and what they look for in their FOTF competitions. Some clubs run traditional catwalk/stage competitions where as other clubs are opting for a digital competition. This is a general guide to what is generally accepted:
• Wear something you feel comfortable in and suits your body shape & colouring.
• Wear millinery and make sure it is positioned correctly and suits your face. When purchasing your millinery, have your milliner place your piece on your head correctly & take a photo of how it should sit. If you don’t get a chance to try it on first, have your milliner send you a photo of how your piece should be placed.
• Introduce yourself to other entrants at the track as FOTF entrants are lovely, supportive people.
• Talk to regulars & pick up ideas along the way. Some FOTF entrants come up with the best ideas, such as painting your own clutch to match your outfit.
• Join FOTF support groups such as ‘It’s all about the Sash’ on Facebook to get ideas, inspiration & to find out about upcoming events.
• Follow regular entrants and race clubs on Instagram to find out what sort of outfits are trending and when events are occurring.
• Keep an eye on the latest runway shows and what the major fashion trends are. Take ideas from what you love then put your own spin on them.
• Invest in quality millinery to compliment your outfit and work with a milliner whose work you admire. Millinery can make or break an outfit.
• Spend time on your hair as it can be the finishing touch. Most Fashions on the Field entrants wear their hair up, with many investing in having it professionally styled. For more modern looks, sleek ponytails are also a great look.
• Have items tailored if they don’t quite fit. Nothing looks better than an appropriately fitted garment
• Invest in undergarments to best suit your outfit and to enhance your look.
• Accessorise. Think carefully about your matching clutch, Jewellery & any other items to compliment your outfit such as brooches & scarves.
• Tan lightly, as long as it is natural looking & even.
• Pack a few emergency staples in your clutch such as a mirror, lipstick, Hollywood tape, bobby pins & tissues.
• Wear flats to and from the track & pack in a separate bag. Put your good shoes on just before you are seen in the Fashions on the Field area
• Contact the race club to find out registrations times if they are not advertised elsewhere. Race clubs usually have a no tolerance policy to late entrants, so allow yourself plenty of time to get ready & travel to the event
• Find out if the race day you are attending has a specific theme e.g. Derby Day is traditionally black & white. Some race clubs have been holding FOTF competitions with fashion themes of late, so do your best to stick to the criteria of the day if stated
• Save up for something you absolutely love and can’t stop thinking about. Investing in quality, timeless pieces are an investment that can be used again and again.
• Remember the brand of outfit & millinery you are wearing in the chance you are interviewed on stage by the host.
• Pay a professional for something you can’t do yourself, or go out there and do a course to learn for yourself.
• Congratulate the winners. They have put time and effort into their outfits & should be congratulated for their time in the spotlight, even if you don’t agree with the judges decision.
• Wear a smile as this finishes every outfit perfectly!
• Give up if you don’t win on your first attempt. Many entrants enter many events before they have success, but they will tell you that it’s not all about winning, it’s about the fun of putting outfits together and the friendships you develop along the way. Take every time you enter as a learning experience.
• Copy an outfit or piece of millinery of another entrant, designer or milliner. It is considered a massive faux par and not a compliment to blatantly copy someone else’s intellectual property. Remember that everyone loves originality.
• Have underwear such as bra straps on show.
• Sport an orange fake tan or heavy eye make up. Remember that the track is not a night club and is held during the day, so highlight your best features with a classic look.
• Go into financial ruin to pay for your outfit. Just because some entrants have outfits that cost thousands of dollars doesn’t mean that they will win. Homemade outfits and cleverly put together high street labels often win.
• Buy cheap knockoffs of High End items. Not only are they usually poor quality but it is also illegal & it does not support the fashion industry. We rely on designers to bring out new ideas each season & if they are put out of business, there will be no fashion industry!
• Drink heavily to calm your nerves before going on stage. Nerves are natural and a good thing and being intoxicated isn’t a great look.
• Shelve an outfit that doesn’t win on its first wear. FOTF judges & criteria differ each race meet, so if you love it, re-wear it!
By no means is this a Fashions on the Field bible, but is a compilation of what I’ve picked up competing in around 100 competitions around Australia. It took me 17 attempts before I had my first win, but it really wasn’t about winning, it was about the fun I had along the way. Fashions on the Field not only gives you an opportunity to express your own personal style, but it also gives you the opportunity to do something most of us love; shop! Don’t forget to take risks, be original & most of all, have fun.
Track Mode is a horse racing and fashion site founded and curated by Nina O’Brien. Stay tuned for more on race day dresses and the thoroughbred life. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest and most exclusive race day fashion edits delivered straight to your inbox.