We’ve all been there; trying to come up with a new race day outfit… and failing miserably.

You rack your brain for that one brilliant idea hoping it comes to you, a miraculous vision. And then the waiting, and waiting… time ticks, the event gets closer. Still nothing. Panic starts to set in.

This happens to me all too often. In fact, I can’t remember a single time when coming up with an outfit was a breeze. Even if you do have an idea of what you want in your mind it can often be challenging to bring that idea into reality.

You might picture a stunning, structured bright yellow dress with an origami hem and draped, kimono sleeves… you scour online for hours and hours looking for something similar, only to come up empty handed.

You then resort to having one made, only to find you can’t find a suitable fabric in just the right shade of yellow anywhere. Or you can’t find a dress maker who can make the right pattern, and then there’s the money and time constraints…

kimono sleeves sketch creative block

Simply put, coming up with an outfit is hard. You may feel like giving up and I’m sure lots of us do. But I’m here to tell you that perseverance is the key.

You may not end up with that stunning yellow outfit you wanted, but you might just end up with something you love more, or just something so you aren’t naked at the race day, which in itself is a win.

When you are actively trying out new things, thinking creatively about solutions and being open to new options is when outfits really come together. You have to set the wheels in motion by being proactive (rather than giving up) and being prepared to change the direction the journey takes you, or even give up on elements of an idea completely.

A Story About my Recent Creative Block

I’ll share with you a little example of this happening to me recently.

The Dilemma – Stained Dress

My favourite dress, which I plan on wearing this year to the Melbourne Cup had a drink spilt down the front of it.

blue dress creative block

It can’t be dry cleaned, so I was stuck with the problem of what to do. I had no spare fabric to make a new bodice out of either.

I started thinking about it for a little while, racking my brain for options. Could I get a new fabric to make a new bodice? Could I add tulle over the bodice? The most obvious option to me was to add some embellishments to the dress to cover over the stain.

Embellishments to Cover the Stain

I made numerous trips to fabric stores looking for the perfect blue lace or fabric to use.

I couldn’t find any so I attempted to paint some embroidered silk. It took me a little while to mix a few paints to get the right shade of blue and then I painted over the fabric and left it to dry.

blue lace

Once dry, I cut out around the silk embroidery pattern, but found the paint had made it quite stiff and cheap looking. Nevertheless, I beaded them with some blue stones and beads.

silk embroidery pattern blue DIY handmade

It’s hard for me to visualise how something will look so I spent a whole day beading these pieces so I could have enough to pin onto the dress to see how it worked. It didn’t, in fact it looked really bad. 10 hours wasted.

silk embroidery pattern beads embellishment

Fabric Lace Attempt #2

I kept searching the internet for fabric. I emailed some online stores. I visited more fabric shops and came up empty handed.

I went to Brisbane and saw some blue lace that was a similar enough match to my fabric. It was $300 a meter. I could only afford to buy 20cm and even that was a huge expense.

blue lace diy race dress custom design

I took the fabric home and started cutting around the lace and beading once again. Another 10 hours later I pinned the fabric onto my dress. I wasn’t sure about it; it still wasn’t right. Slight panic. But pushed through.

blue dress, blue lace sewing designer

Third Time Lucky

I visited my dress maker Andrew the next day and told him my problem. He showed me the only roll of lace that he had. We cut some out and pinned it on my dress. It looked lovely. In fact, I knew straight away this was the one I had been searching for. Except it was white.

blue dress with white roll of lace

Back home, back to the paint. I managed to match the right colour blue and, having learnt from my mistake of making the paint too stiff by mixing in water, I used a sponge to lightly dab over the lace.

painted blue lace, with beads

I cut out the lace and started all over again with beading. 15 hours of beading later, I pinned the pieces on the dress… success! It was beautiful!

blue dress with blue lace

Even though I spent in total around $100 on lace (that was wasted) and countless hours of trial and error with different fabrics and beading techniques, all this played a part in finding the right lace and solution to my problem. Had I not bought the lace and tried it, only to realise it wasn’t working, then going to Andrew’s with it all still fresh in my mind, I wouldn’t have found his lace and I wouldn’t have known to sponge paint it lightly!!

So next time you find yourself on the brink of giving up, or even just unsure where to start, here are 4 things you can do…

Four Things To Overcome a Creative Block

Read Books on Creative Thinking

My favourite is ‘The Art of Creative Thinking’ by Rod Judkins. This book gives some great insight into thinking outside the box- even though it isn’t specific to outfit planning or fashion. It gets your mind thinking about how to make the best out of a situation that might not be going your way and why these mishaps can lead to bigger and better things.

The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins

Channel your Inner Creativity

Set aside some time to do something artsy or to actively work on your outfit or think of a solution. Sometimes when I am stuck, I will browse through Pinterest for new ideas, I head to the bead shop to be inspired, or I start work on something else completely, a different outfit, a new dress.

Pinterest outfit inspiration

A Community of Minds are Better than One

If you are having trouble finding a specific thing, there is no harm in asking others if they have seen it on their travels. Someone in the Field Fashion Community Facebook Group might know just where you can buy that perfect jacquard fabric, or of a store selling the perfect dress or a solution to a design problem. Sharing ideas and options and talking through them can really help.

Kristen Febey, Millinery Derby Day

field fashion community facebook group ask for help

Take an Alternate Path

Don’t be scared to change the direction of an outfit that just isn’t working. You might have started work on a dress but it isn’t looking how you want and isn’t quite right. I have lots of dresses that I have spent countless hours beading and working on, to not like the way it is looking and have learnt to cut my losses. You might revisit it later when you have a new idea but starting again on something else can be the winning solution.

dress for Magic Millions black red stripes

Who remembers this dress I planned for Magic Millions… I spent a few days beading, sewing and altering it only to decide I really didn’t like it and ditched it altogether.


Have you experienced a creative block and pushed through it to come up with a solution or outfit you love? Would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.


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