They sit at a fancy table, front row to all the glitz and glamour, surrounded by beautiful bouquets of flowers and served with flowing champagne and hors d’oeuvres. The judging panel.

celebrity judges how to win

Recently, I was lucky enough to be given the honour of being seated at this table.

Being able to critique and partake in choosing an overall winner, to be sashed as best dressed, was a brand new and immensely enjoyable experience.

Judging is serious business

As a race enthusiast and fellow FOTF competitor, I know just how much thought, effort and time ladies put into their outfits. Months of planning isn’t an exaggeration.

Then there’s the on-the-day preparation of hair, makeup, finishing touches, nerves, excitement and worry! It’s a big deal. And so, the judging should be too.

It’s not an easy task

My recent judging experience gave me significant insight into what it’s like to be on the other side. It’s a lot harder than you think.

racing fashion event judge

Photo of me judging at Ekka Races, Mackay Beach Horse Races and Eacom Griffith Cup

Now I understand why judges high tail it out of there, retiring quickly and gratefully to their marquees away from the contestants. It might be the decadent food and beverage packages… but another reason could be the aftermath. The judging aftermath that is.

VIP races tent cheese platter

One thing I realized with judging is that you can’t please everyone.

There will always be people who miss out, or who don’t agree with your decisions and that’s because –judging is based solely on opinions.

What a judge likes personally, and what resonates with them is what they choose.

Three judges tell us what they like and don’t like about judging

I recently asked three women who often judge FOTF events to share their favourite and least favourite thing about judging.

Meredith McMaster is a milliner who has been a judge for longer than I’ve been entering FOTF and whose style I love- I bought my very first piece of millinery from her. Meredith is a lover of fabulous fashion and is totally quirky. I love her pink hair!

milliner fashions on the field judge

Meredith: “My favourite thing is appreciating the time and effort the contestants put in to pull together a stunning race wear ‘look’. Least favourite thing is being berated by women who think that they should have won – and yes, it happens!!”

Lauren Holland is also no stranger to FOTF and has won many events, including the QLD State Finals twice, a major accomplishment in itself. She runs her own boutique- Joli Boutique, that sells beautiful international women’s clothing and millinery that her mum, Desley, makes.

Queensland State Finalist Joli Boutique

Lauren: “My favourite thing is traveling to some great events and meeting wonderful people. My least favourite part is knowing there can be only one winner when I know how much effort all of the entrants have gone to with their outfits. ”

Georgina Murphy is a fashion columnist for the NT News. Georgina has competed in- and won many FOTF.  Since becoming the NT columnist, she was asked to be on the judging panel for the Darwin Cup Carnival.