Putting together a race day ensemble without having to re-finance the house can be challenging. Sometimes just thinking about the perfect hat can send you into debt.

But, although thousand-plus dollar designer outfits look beautiful floating down the FOTF catwalks, they don’t necessarily mean you will win.

In fact, many savvy sewers and crafters have DIY’d their way into the winning sash.

And some of the lucky ladies who do have the coin to shop designer, admit their biggest wins have come from their cheapest outfits.

I asked the ladies in the Field Fashion Community Facebook Group recently, what they thought a budget outfit would cost.

Replies flooded in with stories and examples of women who have won in outfits that cost as little as $26, to $300, one even winning a State Final in a budget outfit.

cheap race day outfit tips

Thanks for sharing your tips everyone. Here’s how you can do it…

Tip 1) Your New Friends: eBay / DFO / Op Shops

Thrift shops, eBay and Etsy are a great place to buy vintage, on the cheap.

Your purchases will probably need a little remodelling, but with a bit of love, they can turn out fabulously. Vintage dresses can be remodelled into a skirt, or tailored to fit you perfectly.

Find an old hat and use the base to refashion it into something new, and add embellishments.

In 2010, Jaydee Paino took out the Myer National FOTF competition, in what must have been the cheapest dress to ever win FOTF.

She wore an $18 vintage dress purchased online. Jaydee had the dress re-modelled in Cairns by her designer friend Nigel Vogler so that it had cap sleeves, a fitted bodice and a full skirt.

2010 Myer Fashions on the field competition winner

Image credit: The Cairns Post

Try a Facebook group that sells a specific brand. Say one of your favourite race wear brands was ‘Asilio’, type ‘Asilio’ into your Facebook browser and often there will be a page called ‘Asilio Buy, Swap, Sell’. Here you might be able to pick up second hand pieces for a reasonable price.

second hand brand clothing FB groups

Abby purchased this hat from an Op shop for $10. Originally it was a dirty white colour. She painted the brim gold and cut a hole out of the front, then added her own flower embellishments.

Remodel cheap second hand millinery hat

Image credit: @abbyvonduve

A couple of years ago I purchased a gold pencil skirt and matching top from an Op shop for $7. I plan to tailor the skirt and wear it with a contrasting top to an upcoming Autumn race.

saving money budget outfit

Tip 2) Make Time to Prepare and Shop

The earlier you start planning for a race day, the more time you have to find bargains and pieces that you love.

Head to end of season sales at big department stores. A lot of their designer brands will have an additional 40% to 70% off already marked down prices.

I can’t tell you how many designer pieces I’ve purchased at a fraction of the original cost!