With the Myer National Fashions on the Field competition just around the corner and the excitement with the first of the State Finals taking place, I am so thrilled to be sharing this interview with the lovely Carle Rutledge who was sashed the 2018 winner.

I love Carle’s impeccable style and quirky styling. She is no stranger to a sash on the FOTF circuit and is a beautiful lady inside and out!

I really enjoyed learning about Carle’s life on and away from the track, including what it was like to be named the National Winner, her advice to other hopefuls, trend predictions and the life she leads away from the track.

Carle Rutledge | National Winner 2018

Embed from Getty Images

Fashion Related Questions

How long have you been entering FOTF? Number of events per year?

I’ve always enjoyed going to the horse races and loved shoes and hats. However, I only started to show more interest in the fashions side in the last 4 years when I also started to play around with making my own millinery.

I always love Flemington’s Spring Carnival and try to go to every day if I can – the week has such a great vibe of celebration. Regarding events through the year, I might do one Sydney, one Brisbane and try to do a country race meet if I can. I find it’s a great way to encourage my creative side, practise my millinery and enjoy catching up with friends.

Describe your National winning outfit and where you got the idea/inspiration?

My winning race day ensemble was a Burgundy, navy, yellow and white silk Roksanda dress featuring feathered mohair detailing. Canary yellow leather gloves, bag, belt and shoes provided a great accessories pop and I completed the look with my own millinery – a white straw boater style hat with sculptured brim and acrylic flowers, hand painted flowers.

Image credit: www.fotf.com.au

To be honest I started with the dress – I saw it in the Roksanda store in London while overseas earlier last year but was too expensive to justify!  Then in September, I stumbled over it while returning something else back to Myer Melbourne at a fraction of the price as part of a designer sale- thought it was meant to be! I didn’t think of it initially for race wear but loved it so much, it had a unique colour and fabric combination. I made the hat to match. I originally started with yellow straw but changed it out for white. I loved this outfit – I had no idea it was a winner.

What was it like winning the national final? Recreate the moment for us.

It was a dream come true! Still can’t believe it – pinch myself! It was such an incredible journey with firstly being announced as the state finalist for QLD, the roller coaster of amazing opportunities in the week leading up to the final, and then to be announced as the National Winner for Myer Fashions on the Field was the most unbelievable moment. I honestly was in such shock, I didn’t believe they had called my name. I was, and am still so grateful. Small town country girl winning such a prestigious honour, it really is so very special and emotional for me.

Has your life changed in any way since taking out the winning sash?

I have had some incredible opportunities with VRC this year so far. They flew me over to NZ to be part of the judging panel for the Ellerslie Derby Day fashions and I also featured on NZ radio and television. I had never been to NZ so it was such a privilege and heaps of fun.

What do you like most about FOTF? Will you continue to enter FOTF competitions?

Racing fashion provides that creative outlet where you dress up elegantly, wear hats and/or gloves and put your personal flair to it. You meet so many amazing people at the same time who are all very supportive and encouraging, we have a laugh and a glass of bubbles – what better way to spend a day. I’ll definitely continue to participate.

Image credit: www.fotf.com.au

Who are your favourite milliners and racewear brands/stores?

Here in Australia for millinery, at the moment, it would be Stephanie Spencer, Rebecca Share, Love Lotus. Beyond our borders, I love Awon Golding, Ian Bennett and the vintage vibes from NZ milliners, Claire Hahn and Ali Moor.

I do a lot of my outfit shopping online through websites featuring both Australian and international designers. I tend to favour The Modist, OutNet, Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion as they have good shipping and returns. I don’t have a lot of time to hit the street to shop in person but if I do, I would lean toward one-stop shops like Myer etc.

Where do you find race day inspiration?

Fellow fashion enthusiasts, bloggers, Instagram, fashion magazines and vintage reflections etc.

What advice would you give to other race goers (myself included!) who dream of one day becoming the National Winner?

Trust your instinct and be true to your style and wear something you love (not what you think everyone else wears or what you should wear) that reflects your personal flair while being on current trends, colours etc. When you feel good, your confidence shines and it’s noticed – call it that ‘outfit sparkle’! Having the right millinery and accessories, without being too over the top, will tie it all together and provides the edge for your personal style.

Image credit: On Track On Trend

Who will you be wearing this year during Melbourne Cup Week (Designers, brands)?

Gosh…. hard to say just yet but some of my favourite designers are Roksanda, Taller Marmo, Stella Jean, Maticevski, AJE, Caroline Herrera, Zimmerman, Ellery and Emilia Wickstead. I’m planning on making my own millinery but will see how organised I am!

What millinery styles do you think will be trending this Spring?

I think there will be more of a nod toward some vintage styles that mould the head with notes of 40s, 50s and 60s eras.  May see variations of turbans, big bows (again!), padded head bands with embellishing. You could say more vintage glamour!

What are your 2 predictions for Spring racing fashion this year?

It’s so hard to call but I think we might see more simple, modest, contemporary styles with sophisticated, sleek tailoring – perhaps long sleeves that would work with both shorter hemlines or longer and tailored pants. Again, channelling that vintage glam.

Maybe stronger colour blocking and simple graphics across fabrics – such as stripes and spots opposed to any busy prints. I also love matching sets at the moment!

I can’t wait to see what the fashion brings this year!

Away from the Track

Where do you currently live? What do you like most about the city/town? Where do you work? Why did you choose that profession?

I currently reside in Melbourne for my job in construction with a national infrastructure company. I’m working on a big road tunnel project on the stakeholder and community engagement. My day job is not very glamorous and can be super challenging – being on site is dusty and no frills, but that’s what I love about it. It keeps me balanced… I love the contrast of my hobby in the racing fashions to my everyday job – in a funny way they tend to help push the other. I don’t like the weather much in Melbourne during winter but the culture, vibe, events, shopping and food down here make it so worth it!

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I definitely think so far winning the VRC Myer National Fashions on the Field would be at the top. Admiring the winners and everyone who has participated in it for years, I never thought that a small-town country girl like me could even achieve something like that, and to be wearing my own millinery creation made it all that more special. I’m also very thankful for the life opportunities I have been afforded – from where I have come from to where I am now.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

My husband and I both have busy jobs so it would be spending time with him and our two dogs Miley (Rhodesian Ridgeback) and Bailey (Border Collie). Whether it be going for a run/walk/hike, heading out for brunch or dinner – simple pleasures for sure!

We are pretty active and outdoors type people so enjoy our water/snow skiing, visits to our beach house in Noosa and like to travel whenever we can. When I have spare time for myself, I do like to participate in millinery workshops to continue to learn!

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your FB profile?

I grew up on a remote sheep and cattle station near Quilpie in Outback Queensland, riding motor bikes and horses etc, and did my primary school all through School of the Air! Was such an incredible way to grow up and even though it was so isolated there was such a great local community. My mum, however, could never get me in a nice dress! I was such a tom boy,­ it was always boots and pants/shorts or no shoes. That’s certainly changed. I don’t think I started to wear make up until I was mid-20s!

If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?

My puppies – Miley and Bailey, my running shoes, paw paw ointment (for lips!) and dare I say it… my iPhone (for access to all my photo memories, music and meditations).

What would your ultimate dream job be?

I think to be my own boss and have a successful small business or a combination of – maybe some sort of styling/millinery service, with a side of consulting in the construction industry; and because I love my animals – a small boutique goat cheese/milk farm. Haha we will see!

Do you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth? Favourite dessert?

Both! I love a cheese platter with olives or for a sweet treat a good almond croissant treat and could eat green tea gelato anytime of the day!

Do you read any blogs or magazines or listen to any podcasts?

I like to flick through Vogue and Harpers Bazaar occasionally and follow a few fashion blogs. There is a pod cast (original is a book) I listen back to occasionally called Radical Candor which have found value in with my work – it’s based on a very simple framework but marries two important and often competing workplace behaviours: challenging directly while caring deeply. They say this will help you “get what you want by saying what you mean”. Sounds simple but surprisingly very much overlooked!

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I have been very lucky to have explored some amazing places in the world already – a lot of Europe, UK, Canada, some of Asia, Africa and most of Australia – but for me as long as it’s a warm climate and by some sort of water (i.e a lake, river or the beach) then I am in heaven!


Thanks Carle for giving us a glimpse into your life both on and off the track!

If you’d like to get to know some of our other past National winners, check out these interviews with Crystal Kimber (2017), Courtney Moore (2016), Emily Hunter (2015) and Brodie Worrell (2014).