It was two weeks out from the Myer NSW state final FOTF competition. My outfit planning was well underway. And I was nervous.

Here’s what was running through my head at the time…

The Dilemma Diary

The first dilemma is my dress. It’s stunning. When I saw it, I knew it was the one, but it’s a full tulle dress. A tulle dress, to the races? I know what you’re thinking… I’m scared too.

Purple and pink full tulle dress

I (once again) enlist the amazing talent of Belinda from Peacock Millinery to make my bespoke piece. I have a style in mind; a Dior inspired mushroom hat.

Mushroom hats inspired by Dior

Image credit: Dior by John Galliano | blue17.co.uk (left), bcr8tive.com (right)

Belinda’s initial sketch is the complete opposite of my idea. I try to avoid voicing my opinions and just trust her. She seems set on this particular style.

Her design idea is beautiful, but is the overall concept too risky? I decide to let her do what she thinks best, she is in my eyes, the design master after all.

Belinda's initial sketch of millinery hat design

Then I wait, anxiously, to see the final product.

One week later my phone goes off; a message from Belinda. A photo!

I take a breath and open it, not knowing how I will feel or what I will see- it’s either going to be a total break down, or a hallelujah moment.

Belinda from Peacock Millnery's design

It’s PERFECT. Absolutely stunning. Way better than I could have imagined!! I really love it. Sigh of relief.

non traditional millinery shape

The hat will balance out my tulle dress perfectly. I have butterflies, can barely sleep from excitement. When I do fall asleep, there are dreams about the races and FOTF (totally lame I know).

The next day I show my mum.

Mum: It’s a bit… out there… don’t you think?

Me: Umm well yeah… Belinda’s a bloody visionary and has made a masterpiece!

Mum: That’ll never win Melbourne Cup. You need a more ‘millinery style’.

Me: (shocked and annoyed) This could win a millinery award!

Mum: Yes. But not the fashion award. It’s too different.

Slump.

Pushing the Fashion Envelope

Annoyed and frustrated, I start thinking about what she said.

Who decides what is right and wrong in the world of racing fashion? Is FOTF evolving enough to allow new styles and looks to win? Or do you have to stick to traditional FOTF attire?

If innovative styles never win, then we won’t evolve with fashion or move forward, experimenting with new ideas. We don’t want to get stuck in shoulder pad past do we?

80s models wearing tops with shoulder pads

Image credit: simplyeighties.com (left), alechetron.com (right)

Maybe a percher, halo, boater or crown is the choice of traditional racegoers- also favourites of mine, but at what stage do we get to try something new and different?

Traditional millnery hat designs

Millinery by Peacock Millinery (1st and 2nd photo) and Marilyn Vandenberg (3rd photo). All three hats available to