The last minute outfit. If you haven’t yet, you will experience this at some stage.
It might be that you forget the race day completely. Or you decide not to go, then change your mind. You get an unexpected day off work… whichever it is, you have barely a few days (or hours) to pull together something that works.
What to do?
Well, one might say I’m a professional last minute-er. I know my stuff.
Don’t get me wrong. It can be quite thrilling to be on the clock and have to come up with something.
Some of my best outfits come from the last minute rush, but it can also be very stressful and rob you of many nights of sleep- and everyone knows I LOVE my sleep!
If you find yourself in this situation, I hope my insight into coping with a last minute dilemma helps you in your time of need.
5 Days to a Magic Millions Worthy Outfit
It was a mere 5 days away and I still hadn’t organised an outfit for magic Millions Race Day.
After too much spending on Spring Carnival and Christmas, I challenged myself to piece together an outfit from my existing wardrobe, spending as little as possible and re-using one of my millinery pieces.
And this was a big event… the QLD State Final for Myer FOTF, so I was feeling stressed.
So, how did I get from my birthday suit to walking down the catwalk in a complete head-to-toe outfit I was proud of?
Step 1: Scour Wardrobe for Hidden Gems
Your wardrobe is the best place to start!
Sort through your wardrobe and pull out any items you think might work for a race day outfit. Any skirts, tops or dresses with a nice cut or colour.
Lay them out on your neatly made bed (trust me it doesn’t work on a bundled up doona and sheets). You need clarity in this moment of creativity.
Step 2: Fashion Show for Yourself
Chuck on the track “I’m too sexy” and try everything on!
If there’s one item you have chosen as your key piece, then this is what you will start with.
The most important step is to MAKE A START. It doesn’t matter if this isn’t what you go with in the end, but making a start is important as it gets you on your way.
If you happen to find a full outfit, then bravo to you! You have saved yourself money (I like to call this beer with straw money, or in your case it might be champagne money) and you are now ready to start piecing together accessories.
Usually this works well for me, but I do it SO often I’ve exhausted my wardrobe resources having already re-worn all my favourite pieces to the brink of looking like a serial outfit repeater.
Not what you want when you’re trying to establish yourself as a racewear blogger extraordinaire.
So, I decided the wardrobe hunt wasn’t going to work for me this time. On to the next step…
Step 3: The Last Minute Treasure Hunt
Hit the shops like there’s no tomorrow!
I spent a whole day at my local shopping centre searching every store for some inspiration but came up empty handed.
Shopping can be difficult for racewear, especially when a $500 to $1000 dress is out of the question.
Online shopping is good to look at too- but with time restraints and postage delays, your best bet is to head straight to the shops.
I like to keep an open mind and take photos of anything I think might work. Your outfit can take many changes in direction, so having an array of options is the best way to go.
Make the most of your time. There’s no point spending all this time at the shopping centre looking for one specific item. Keep your eyes peeled for any bargains, accessories and outfits that might be useful for future events.
This is particularly useful for necklaces and earrings- when I find them on sale, I grab a heap of them. They always come in handy at some stage.
I found two bargain skirts in Sheike for $39 each down from $140. I wasn’t sure what I had planned for them yet but the midi length, high waist and fit made them possible outfit suspects.
At the end of the trip I was feeling quite down and stressed about what to wear. I wasn’t any closer to an outfit and there had been no genius light bulb moments.
Step 4: Don’t Give Up
Two days later I went back to a different shopping centre for a half day shop. Persistence is key!
This time I took a friend to help me with feedback and brainstorming.
Sometimes just talking things out loud can help. Under stress, I have had some horrendously bad ideas and it takes a new eye to help pop them back into place! The bin!
Along with my friend, I took along my pink Sheike skirt and decided my best bet was to use the skirt as a base of the outfit and concentrate on finding tops.
I also decided I wanted to wear my navy swirl hat, as I had only worn it once before and love it. It also worked with the salmon pink Sheike skirt.
So this narrowed down my search. Hoorah I’ve made a start! Find a top that works with navy and gold. Seems do-able, right?
I went into a thousand shops. This is the best we could come up with.
An off-shoulder dress from Kookai with flared sleeves- I’ve tucked it up to look like a top.
I would need to alter the dress into a top and make it fitted around the waist, but I still didn’t love it, so I left it on hold to ponder over night.
The next day I returned to the shops with a different hat in tow, to see if it worked together…
Outfit searching is serious business!
It was ok… it would do if it had to…
By this stage I was over shopping and feeling agitated.
A few failed options later and I was ready to throw in the towel and binge on tacos.
I decided on one final lap.
Into Alice McCall I go, even though I was hesitant due to my budget.
But it was my lucky day- there was a dress with the same pink tones as my skirt and it was on sale!
I tried on the dress and put my skirt over the top…
The dress fabric covered the front split on my skirt, creating an interesting design. Also by wearing a skirt over, I didn’t have to worry about anyone else turning up in the same dress.
The last hurdle was the green embroidery on the waist and sleeves.
Step 5: Get Creative and Tie It All Together
I thought about painting the embroidery navy and gold and then realised I had some left over navy and gold lace fabric from a previous outfit.
I could sew it on and wear my navy swirl hat after all.
Feeling optimistic now…. I might just be able to pull it off.
I took my dress home and got to work.
I cut out the lace and pinned it to my sleeves, then tried it on with the skirt and the hat.
Try as you go!! This is very important! No point in doing a whole lot of work only to try it on later and realise it is no good.
I pinned the lace to the waist band. Lucky I tried it all on because I realised it was too heavy. Instead I cut out smaller pieces of navy lace for the waist, to soften it, and left some pink embroidery showing.
I worked through the next three nights, the sleeves alone took 16 hours and the waist another 6. Yawn.
My next obstacle was the bust- the underlay was still a bit booby- which is a big no-no in racing fashion. My brother is also a total boob Nazi and was on my case about how I would cover my boobs from the minute I bought the dress.
I couldn’t find anything the right shape or colour to wear underneath it that would tie in and not look out of place.
Saddened by the fact I’d have to cut the dress underlay to sew across the bust and wouldn’t be able to wear the dress afterwards, I remembered a scarf I purchased at an opshop years ago that matched the colour- it was ever so slightly lighter but you could barely tell.
I sewed it on and voila! Sayonara boobs!
Step 6: Save Pennies where Possible
The budget outfit was not the cheapest, but in terms of a racing outfit it wasn’t bad. And I was re-wearing millinery so didn’t have to worry about that cost.
So far I’d spent $270 on the dress and $39 for the skirt- to justify it, I will wear them both again…
And I did manage to get my accessories on sale…
Final Step: Justify Extravagant Purchases
This is an important step. You want to be able to sleep at night.
Yes, the shoes were a splurge. $199 from Tony Bianco. But I needed to invest in a good pair of gold strappy heels anyway and look how perfectly they suited my outfit
Plus, my brother paid half as a late Christmas present and already I’ve worn them out three times! So, technically, they only cost $66.
Does anyone else do this? If you don’t, start! It works wonders on your conscience.
And there you have it!
Persistence, trial and error, some creativity, DIY and voila!
An outfit I love and was even lucky enough to make top ten at the QLD state finals!!!!
The Backup Plan
If after all this, you still have no outfit—
- Raid a friend’s wardrobe!
- Put away your fashionista pride and re-wear an outfit.
- Lower your standards and opt for a simple, well-cut dress and aim to look elegant and lady-like at the races.
So, what last minute outfits have you put together? I’d love to see them! Post them in the comments below and tell me about some of your last minute experiences.
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