“Joy is an intense momentary experience of positive emotion, one that makes us smile and laugh and feel like we want to jump up and down.”

Recently, I listened to a TED talk about the feeling of Joy. The speaker was Ingrid Fetell Lee, who, as a young aspiring industrial designer had brought about feelings of joy in her professors after showcasing her designs to them. Intrigued by this reaction, she ended up devoting a large portion of her life’s work to discovering the meaning behind joy and what brings upon these emotions. How do tangible things make us feel intangible joy?

If you don’t have time to watch the full 13 minute video, I encourage you to watch the section from time 5:38 to 6:25.

This got me thinking and relating it to my own life. Who wouldn’t want to wear a race day outfit that makes someone jump for joy? Perhaps this is the secret to placing in Fashions on the Field! And perhaps ladies already incorporate this concept into their race day outfits, consciously or subconsciously. I wanted to investigate more.

So, when you think of joy, what is it that you think of? Personally, I think of balloons, dandelions, rainbows, a big bunch of flowers and brightly coloured beads.

Ingrid asked hundreds of people what brought them joy and she started to notice some commonalities. There were cherry blossoms, bubbles, swimming pools, tree houses, hot air balloons and fireworks.

everyday objects that bring joy happiness

Ingrid managed to categorize the most common answers into the following 5 categories:

  • pops of bright colour
  • round things
  • symmetrical shapes
  • abundance, multiplicity and repetition
  • the feeling of lightness or elevation.

Excited by her theories, I decided to look for race day outfits that brought feelings of joy to me, and to see if they too, embodied these characteristics. Here’s what I found…

Pops of Bright Colour

Pops of colour are pleasing to the eye, whether it be through an array of brightly coloured prints paired together, or through just one or two colours creeping through a base colour.

I especially love Ian Bennet’s 2016 winning Myer Millinery Award piece which features not only pops of colour, but is created out of feathers to look like fireworks- something that brings joy to many people.

feeling of joy in outfit

Image credit: @richshawphoto

bright fun colourful outfits

Image credit: @thelittlegeorge, @alicebright__

fun light hearted outfit colourful

Image credit: @kerriecarucci_

wow colourful bright spring race day outfit

Image credit: 1: @wendellt photo of @brooke.prince

Round Things

Round objects make us feel safe, calm and happy. In racing fashion, I always find that a full skirt twirling down a runway makes me feel joy, as do beautiful round brims on hats and polka dots or curved prints.

full skirt twirl dress

Image credit: @kerry_mcglone29

polka dot print dress fun joyful happy

Image credit: @wendellt photo of @kerriecarucci_

curvy print skirt joy

Image credit: @belcappello

round hats for races

Image credit: @opulentlifestylecollective

Symmetrical Shapes

It is a natural human instinct to be drawn to symmetry. We are hardwired to organize chaos. Through prints and shapes that repeat themselves, we create a feeling of order that evokes feelings of joy. In fashion outfits, a bold symmetrical print can have a very visually appealing effect on anyone who sees it.

sense of joy yellow black symmetry

Image credit: @wendellt image of @stacie_galeano

symmetry mirror image outfit fashion design

Image credit: @crystalkimber

purple stunning race dress detail embroidery

Image credit: @allie_guy

racing fashion racecourse outfit

Image credit: @marshmillinery

Abundance, Multiplicity and Repetition

I found this characteristic very interesting. I loved the analogy that one confetto does not bring about joy, but a copiousness of confetti does! A print that is repeated in abundance, or that is carried on through to the millinery and other features in an outfit whether that be a fabrication, shape or colour, has this effect.

multiplicity repetition outfit joy

Image credit: @sarahhopeschofield.studio

sense of joy abudance dots spots orange race dress

Image credit: Sarah Schofield – flemington.com.au

fireworks bright patterns racewear

Image credit; Chloe Moo – flemington.com.au

repetition pattern leopard print dress

Image credit: @crystalkimber

I also found abundance to be visible in things like this sleeve below; the abundance of fabric designed to look like petals which is also carried on into the millinery.

Lots of white fabric sleeves style

Image credit: @richshawphoto

Or the repetition of flowers on Alice’s dress replicated in her hat.

black dress colourful flower embellishments

Image credit: @alicebright__

Abundance could also be the full feeling of Em’s outfit, through the extra fabric in her bodice ruffle and voluminous pleats in her skirt.

yellow and white race day outfit

Image credit: @wendellt photo of @emscodellaro

The Feeling of Lightness or Elevation

This would have to be my personal favourite, the feeling of lightness or elevation. Who saw Philip Treacy’s ‘jellyfish’ hats he made for the Valentino Haute Couture show? The way the ostrich feathers floated from the hat, billowing behind like long stringy jellyfish tentacles had me totally captivated. And brought a smile to my face. This feeling of lightness can be found in outfits through fabrications used; tulle and crinoline are fantastic examples, and through feathers and transparency.

jelly fish hat

Image credit: @styleheroine

elevation light fun joyful hats

Image credit: @philiptreacy

light fun airy outfit tulle transparent pink black

Image credit: @wendellt photo of @milanoimai

sheer transparent race dresses derby black white

Image credit: @sarah_vasey92