You know how different race days often have a theme? Themes like black and white, a touch of metallic, or dressing for a decade?

Well, I’ve a got a new favourite race theme: Embellishment.

It was this year’s theme for the Doomben 10,000 Day and I was in embellishment heaven. I was surrounded by sequinned, bedazzled, jewelled and adorned extravagance.

As someone who loves to bead and embellish, I had a lot of fun putting together my outfit, but not without a few hiccups and some trial and error along the way. In the end it all came together and I was lucky enough to take home the winning sash 🙂

Gold blue embellished race wear dress

In this post I’m going to share with you how I pulled together my winning outfit and also show you some of the other stand out designs that you really need to see. Trust me.

10 Days Before Doomben 10,000 Day

Ten days before the big day I was scrolling through ASOS looking at 90+ pages of dresses when all of a sudden I stumbled across this sequinny, shimmery tulle dream.

Asos sequin shimmer tulle dress

Image credit: ASOS

My favourite thing ever is sequins and beads. So, although I hadn’t necessarily decided I was going to attend the race day, once I discovered the theme for the competition was ‘embellishment’, I just had to attend!

I promptly ordered the ASOS dress, even though they were sold out of my size and I had to purchase a dress two sizes up (and at a slightly higher price than I wanted to pay).

Quietly proud of myself, I thought, look at you go, the race isn’t for two weeks and you’ve got a dress!

Being early for things has never been my strong point.  But making an early start turned out to be the key element in this case.

I knew I’d have to make some alterations, as it was still quite a summery dress. I was thinking a new top, with sleeves to go over it, and maybe an underlay in a winter tone.

The Embellished Dress Arrives … and Returns

5 days later the dress arrived. It was beautiful, but did nothing for me. And it was way too big.

Asos sequin shimmer tulle dress

Excuse the big white lump and ugly socks.

Still, I’m no quitter, so the next day I made a quick trip to Spotlight. Dress in hand, I perused all the isles and purchased some silver fabric.

Spotlight silver race wear fabric

I spent a few hours that night with my friend Tanya (who happens to be studying design- did I hit the jackpot, or what?).

After playing around with different options, draping the fabric over the top of the dress, wearing different belts…nothing worked.

Spotlight silver fabric sequin tulle dress

It was a lost cause. The decision to ditch was made.

Very important lesson ladies, if it’s not working- let it go. (Also apply this rule to men).

Side Note: ASOS does free returns which meant I printed off a returns label from the ASOS website, stuck it to a bag and took the dress back to the post office (free of charge!!) and you get a full refund a week later!! Makes online shopping stress free, just how I like it!

Treasure Hunting in the Recesses of my Closet

Whilst playing around with ideas, I pulled out some super old fabrics I had purchased years ago, but never used.

One in particular caught my eye. A bronzish gold, sequin fabric that I forgot I even had.

races outfit fabric

Drawn to it, I decided to find a skirt to match.

Now, you know how I always say to buy things on sale when you find them, even if you don’t have anything planned for it yet?

Case in point – I purchased this Alice McCall skirt three months ago, on sale for $100 (down from $300) and it’s been sitting patiently in my wardrobe ever since.

And wasn’t I happy to have it!!

Alice McCall midnight blue skirt

I popped it on and draped the gold sequin fabric over my arms. Voila!! It looked interesting and embellish-y and went well together.

Milano wearing Alice McCall skirt gold sequin fabric

Apologies for the terrible lighting and messy background.

Coming up with the Design

I started drawing up the silhouette I had in my head. Tanya loves a good drape, so she added that feature to the top.

Milano race wear design sketch

At this stage, there were 4 days left to go. The pressure was starting to kick in.

Tanya and I got up early to make the pattern for the top. We made up a sample first, out of a cheap grey lining I had purchased to go with the (now redundant) silver fabric.

Sewing and fitting Spotlight silver fabric

The Top is Made

We then went to Tanya’s college, where she made the top. It took her 10 hours in total from pattern to garment. (ouch, thank you thank you….)

Sewing and fitting Spotlight silver fabric

Milano Imai embellish theme

The only problem was, I still felt it was a little plain.

I was planning to make flared sleeves out of some white mesh and spray paint them gold, but even then, something was missing. The ‘WOW’ element just wasn’t there.

Milano wearing gold sequin top and Alice McCall skirt

Dealing with a Missing ‘Wow’ Factor

Here’s one of those ‘falling into place’ moments. I happened to be in Brisbane the next day, minutes from ‘The Fabric Store,’ where I had taken some fabric samples from a few weeks prior.

I popped in and purchased half a meter of a black and gold jacquard fabric with a floral design.

Black gold jacquard fabric with floral design

On the way home I dropped into my favourite bead store, ‘The Bead Shed’ and sourced an assortment of blue, black and gold beads.

Blue black and gold beads

I came home, cut out the sleeve flare and pinned it onto my top. Perfect! It was just what the outfit needed and it also provided an additional colour to work with- black!

Sleeve flare top

Last Minute Doubts

What outfit planning isn’t complete without some last minute doubt?

With the top completed, I tried on two other skirts that may have worked, just to be sure.

But, usually your first instincts are right. The navy skirt was still the winner, although I do like the look of the burgundy skirt.

ilano race wear outfit planning

Daggy mismatched socks are my weakness 😀

Having the black throughout the fabric in the sleeves made my next task a lot easier- millinery.

Finding the Right Millinery

Previously I was looking for a gold or navy headpiece, but now I had the option of adding in black and tying it in with black shoes and gloves.

I took to the Field Fashion Community and Millinery and Racewear for Sale Facebook Groups and posted a photo of my outfit asking for options.

There were many beautiful pieces, but none that suited my outfit.

facebook group outfit advice racing fashion

I diverted my millinery search for a while with some nocturnal time. I spent the next three nights (and early mornings) beading. Each sleeve took around 8 hours, and then came the collar.

Creating beaded details on sleeve

Adding beaded details on sleeves

I spray painted some white mesh fabric gold, and made some sleeve flounces.

Additional design sleeve race wear

The embellishments on the sleeves made them quite heavy and the mesh underneath helped to hold its shape. It also added an additional design element.

Sleeve det

By now my outfit was looking pretty good!!

Back to Finding the Right Hat

I put my outfit on to check the progress and tried on an old black hat with it, to see how it would look with a black head piece.

Milano wearing gold top and black millinery

It looked great with black accessories- the only reason I didn’t go with this hat is because I felt it made the outfit look a little too Asian-y, which wasn’t the look I was going for.

Then I remembered, I had seen a beautiful felt flower piece made by Pink Lane Hats.

Pink Lane Hats felt head piece

I called Amy, who told me she was just in the middle of making up flowers to make that exact piece in black (there you go, another falling into place moment) and could bring it with her to the event on Saturday!!!

Making a Homemade Brooch

The finishing touch was a brooch because I thought the top looked a little plain.

I made a brooch out of a Lovisa necklace with some pliers, a little bit of pom pom fluff and some glue to hold it all together.

Race wear brooch made of Lovisa necklace

Race wear accessory brooch

The Doomben 10,000 Day Event

Ali and I arrived at the racecourse minus my millinery, for a fun day of fashion viewing.

Doomben racecourse race wear shot

Stay classy Sandiego

fashions on the field 2017

The embellishment theme was by far my favourite, so I couldn’t wait to photograph everyone’s creations.

Although it was a bit of a gloomy, drizzly, overcast day, ladies turned up in their sequinned, bedazzled, jewelled and adorned best!

My favourite outfits…

Ladies who Nailed the Embellishment Theme

Lisa March, never disappoints in her funky outfits and this time she opted for a two tone sequin skirt, in peacock colours, with a matching cape that featured a peacock on the back. She even added beads to the eye. Love it!

Natty chose my favourite colour of the season, emerald green, with an assortment of sequins in flower patterns and a bejewelled neckline.

Natty emerald green bejewelled race wear

Kerrie wore a stunning maroon piece by her mother Milva Carucci Designs, paired with a leafy leather flower crown and statement earrings and choker she told me she picked up for $2 the day before. Bargain!

Milva Carucci Designs maroon race wear

Anna looking elegant in a blush Dior dress, paired with a tweed jacket she had embellished and a turban she made herself <3

Blush Dior race wear embellished tweed jacket

Stacie, whose outfit I couldn’t stop staring at (LOVE that skirt) wore a striking gold and black ensemble with a feather neckline that she added herself. For those of you who are also eyeing off her clutch- its Sass and Bide *love heart eyes

Gold black race wear with feathered neckline

Lindsay looked like a queen in gold. She wore a gold feather-spiked halo by Marilyn Vanden Berg Millinery. A nice combination of textures; sequins, metal, lace, 3d embellishments, mesh and fur. Swoon.

Gold lace race wear Marilyn Vanden Berg Millinery

Caren, Jodie and Dani looking beautiful in complementary winter hues. Dani purchased her beige tweed jacket for $2 at an Opshop and added the embellishments herself.

Winter hue embellished race wear

I LOVE the fabric of Rikki’s skirt that she made. Reminds me of mermaid dreams!! Rikki also told me she did her beautiful up do in less than ten minutes and it’s her ‘easy do’. I can barely put my hair in a pony tail, so props to you Rikki!!

Mermaid inspired skirt race wear

Demi and Alla are always stand outs! Alla designed and sewed her own outfit as well as made her Swarovski crystal headpiece!! That would have taken forever, but was well worth it! Demi is wearing a Kitten D’Amour jacket with a vintage leather skirt and Allport Millinery.

Swarovski crystal headpiece Allport Millinery

Some more quick snaps I managed to take when I wasn’t hiding from the rain!!

I love all the details, ladies, and how different everyone looks. You really got to show off your quirky sides.

Doomben 10000 race wear stripped

Doomben 10000 white race wear pink millinery

Doomben 10000 royal blue race wear millinery


Hopefully this post has inspired you to create your own homemade outfit or even just add a few DIY elements to give it that extra WOW factor. To learn how to design your own custom race outfit, check out my outfit design guide.


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