Fashions on the Field isn’t just about winning or getting a sash… but we don’t have to pretend we aren’t secretly hoping, somewhere in the backs of our minds, that it is us who will take it home, along with the novelty bottle of Champagne, a bouquet of flowers, a pamper voucher, some sparkly jewels, a few night’s hotel stay, a trip overseas or even a car!

champagne flowers prizes winners

Image credit: Left: Stacie Galeano. Right: @buorkeraceclub photo of Janette Booth, Jayme Francisco and Alex Murray.

So, how exactly do you win FOTF?

google search results

Looks like I wasn’t the only one asking this question.

I remember starting out (many moons ago) and googling this exact thing.

I figured I could just google ‘How to win Fashions on the Field’, like it was that simple. Someone could give me the top 5 things I needed to do… wear red, strut down the catwalk, wave your fan around on stage, wear a boater, wink at everyone… if only it was that simple. Well maybe not for me anyway. I can’t wink.

From a judge’s perspective though, I can give you the Top 10 things that I, and other judges I have worked with, look for when judging FOTF.

Keep in mind that this is just a bit of fun ladies, I know we don’t want to turn FOTF into a serious sport, but still…

Tip #1 – Be Strict about Dressing for the Season

When dressing for Autumn/Winter or Spring/Summer, there is always one main thing judges will look out for- and that is, wearing season-appropriate fabrics, millinery and accessories!

This is quite a strict rule and, therefore, judges don’t want to be burnt at the stake for selecting someone in a straw hat in Autumn when we know everyone is supposed to abide by this rule!

To be safe, stick to leather, wool, metal, lace and felts for Autumn/Winter, alongside closed toe heels. For Spring/Summer wear straw, silk, sinamay and any trans-seasonal fabrics.

dressing for winter races

I never get tired of looking at this outfit. It is perrrrfection! Photo credit: Ross Stevenson of Demi Monde.

As for your clothing options, keep in mind winter colours and fabrications. If it is still quite warm where you live, judges can be lenient and allow more summer style silhouettes.

Always check with a race club if you are unsure. Some clubs in warmer climates will specify that entrants won’t be penalised for dressing in Spring/Summer attire.

Tip #2 – Majority Rules

When entering a FOTF competition there is often anywhere from 3 to 5+ judges.

The judges have to make a unanimous decision on who will win, which means they must agree on just one person. This is tricky for entrants because you want to have your own signature personal style, but at the same time, if it’s a little ‘out there’, you may not please the majority of judges.

milano imai viva prix de fashion judges

If I like tacos but everyone else is more into pizza, then we are going to get pizza.

Something else to factor in is that some judges aren’t FOTF judges, so what they think is ‘fashionable’ and ‘trendy’ may not realistically be what racing enthusiasts would pick… which leads me to my next point…

Tip #3 – Research (Creep) the Judges

When I first read this years ago, I thought it was ridiculous. Research them in what way? And would that really help?

But if you think about it, if you find a race-enthusiast-turned-judge, you can often tell what their personal style is. Are they more classic, fashion forward or vintage?

racewear research

If I knew Angela Menz was judging, a quick look at her Instagram would tell me her style is quirky and fun. Image credit: @angelamenz instagram 

I must admit that when I am judging, I tend to choose styles that align with my personal taste- because that’s just what I like. Therefore, if you know a judge and what styles they lean towards at race events, you can determine whether to wear a certain style of outfit.

Tip #4 – Don’t Let a Minor Detail Cost you a Sash!

To make it easy for a judge to pick you, ensure you have all the elements in your outfit carefully planned to add those finishing touches.

Sometimes it comes down to the minor details. There might be a line up of worthy outfits, but in the end it could be someone who has a better pair of shoes, clutch or earrings. There’s definitely an art to choosing the right accessories.

So when you are planning, consider the little things. The small studded earring might be nice, but is there something better suited to your outfit?

tips for winning fotf competiton

Image credit: @ana_bella_millinery

Tip #5 – Don’t Skimp on your Millinery

Sometimes, from a judge’s perspective, it is hard to look past a fabulously constructed and stand out piece of millinery.

One thing I’ve heard many times is, ‘If only her millinery was better/bigger/the right colour/etc.’ You don’t want to have a winning dress and accessories only to be let down by a small or too simple hat. Don’t get me wrong, small headbands and crowns can definitely win FOTF if your outfit has other elements contributing to the WOW factor.

Also note that often judges are milliners, or racing fashion lovers, so they will be closely critiquing hats.

colourful bold fascinator hat headpiece

Image credit: @wendellt image of Brooke Prince wearing Peacock Millinery.

Tip #6 – Your Hair is an Extension of your Millinery

Have you ever gone to the shops without make up on, tried on clothing only to think everything looks bad? You can’t work out why, but it’s just not working. For me, not having my hair styled properly is the equivalent to this.

Sometimes when wearing an outfit and millinery- which usually is of a decent size, I feel like it looks unbalanced and a bit ‘off’ if I don’t have my hair styled with volume into something special to suit the overall look.

There have been times at home when I’ve tried on my whole outfit and panicked, thinking my hat is too big and looks silly. But on the day, with my hair styled big, it works perfectly.