I always feel extremely honoured when asked to judge at a race day. I take my role very seriously and try to make sure I look the part. Of course, this provides me with the opportunity (and excuse) to buy that unjustifiably indulgent dress I’ve been eyeing off for ages….
To me, if you are judging, it is of paramount importance to dress up. The effort not only reflects an understanding of racing fashion, but also shows respect to the entrants and the event.
When Rocky Amateurs asked me to come on board their judging panel this year I was thrilled! Country races are a favourite of mine. I love visiting new tracks and seeing all the ladies I would otherwise not have a chance to meet.
My First Online Extravagant Purchase
The most expensive dress I’ve ever purchased online was a little over the $200 mark. Hardly exorbitant in the world of race wear. But, it’s no secret, I’m usually on a budget and only really browse online as a past-time, avoiding ‘shopping carts’ as best as possible.
When I spotted a stunning Solace lavender kimono sleeve dress, I fell in love. I kept going back and staring at it, for weeks, wishing it would somehow magically appear in my wardrobe.
With my judging gig coming up and a birthday on the horizon, I realised I could no longer live without it. Luckily, my family members collected some funds and I was able to buy the dress as my birthday present. Not only was it perfect for my judging gig, but also for two more events this year. Justified.
My beautiful dress arrived within two days and it was perfect. I hung it up in my room and looked at it everyday, trying it on every chance I got!
A Hat Collaboration with Two Talented Milliners
I love to have a hand in my outfits, whether it be the design of the dress, or the millinery. Not having quite mastered the art of making hat bases yet, I contacted my friend Caren Lee Millinery to make me a button base, which I could decorate and embellish myself.
With the time constraints (I do everything last minute) and the dress a hard colour to match, Caren made me a base in light pink leather, which I could spray paint to be the right colour.
Thinking of ways to spice up my hat, I contacted Lynn from Love Lotus, whose stunning flower work I admire. I asked her if she could make me some iridescent or clear purple flowers to add to my hat base.
Luckily, she had just the right purple and set to work on them right away.
The flowers arrived and they were STUNNING, just what I was after!
My spray paint arrived soon after and I got to work.
I sprayed the hat base with two different colour purples to get a similar match. Admittedly, the shade wasn’t quite right, but it would have to do.
On my trip to Japan last year, I stumbled across a tiny little fabric shop that sold some veiling and purchased a few different colours on a whim. Out came the bag of veiling and I found some purple! It was the exact shade of my dress! Lucky stars.
I played around with the different ways the veiling could be placed on the hat. At one stage I thought I would cover the base and have a spray of veiling on the top.
On second thoughts, no good.
Then I decided to cover the base with 4 layers of veiling, so the colour of the base was muted. I clipped it in place.
How to sew the veiling on? The base was blocked in felt and then the leather on top meant a needle could not pass through. It was HARD.
I resorted to the one thing you’re not supposed to do. I hot glue gunned the veiling on the inside of the hat! It looked messy, but it did the trick and hey, I wasn’t selling this hat, so it really didn’t matter.
The veiling in place, the next step was the arrangement of the flowers.
I put the base on my head and tried a number of different options. From the left side to the right. The right to the left. I even had the flowers floating at different heights before I settled on having them arranged on the left side of the hat.
The tricky part here was getting the flowers to sit up on the hat. I sticky taped (hehe) the wire of the flower stems together and used an awl to create three holes through the base of the hat. I was then able to secure the flower wire to the hat base by sewing through the holes I made.
Pretty chuffed with myself and happy with how the hat looked, I thought it was probably time to decide on my accessories (it was the night before after all).
Deciding on my Accessories
I didn’t want to buy any new accessories for this outfit. Budget life. So, I took to my wardrobe to find anything that would suit. I tried black shoes with a black clutch, but it just didn’t suit the light feel of the outfit. I tried nude shoes, but they just made me look like I had run out of options, which is, essentially, what happened.
With no other choice, I used my old handy trick of spray painting a cheap pair of Big W nude heels.
A quick few coats and a hair dryer dry in-between. The colour wasn’t the perfect, but 10x better than nude. They would have to do.
Earrings were just a simple pearl and I decided to use my pearl Cult Gaia bag as they matched the inside of the flowers.
I was ready! Time to pack.
The Perfect Chignon
Floss from Floss’s hair studio did my hair for the event and it was stunning!! I can’t stress enough how important good hair is to complement your millinery and your overall look.
I love the big smooth bun she created.
Judging Contemporary and Classic for the First Time
It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day. I was impressed by the level of fashion put together by entrants and it was clear a lot of effort had gone into everyone’s outfits, meeting the themes of Contemporary or Classic.
On the judging panel was fellow FOTF enthusiast and member of the Rocky Amateurs FOTF Committee, Carmen Marsten, who kindly organised for me to be the guest judge, and Kerry Peel, whose business Phil Peel Jewellers was sponsoring the prizes.
The Best Dressed Men’s Category was first up, with around 6 male entrants. For each category there was only one winner and no runner up.
Michael Dunn from Brisbane had made an 8-hour road trip up with friend (and photographer) Anthony Rice, and was named Best Dressed.
Michael’s three-piece suit in camel and shades of blue was a stand out. He was tastefully accessorised from head to toe. Congratulations Michael!
We started off judging the Classic Lady category, which, notably had more entries than the Contemporary category.
Luckily for me, a couple of weeks prior to this event, I had done research for a blog on Classic vs Contemporary racewear so I had a clear idea of what I was looking for.
There were so many beautiful outfits and different interpretations of the theme.
Judging is always hard as you don’t have a lot of time to assess each and every detail of the entrant’s outfits. You have to take in everyone’s overall look and consider how they present themselves on stage.
Out of the 25 ladies in the Classic category, we managed to narrow it down to 10 finalists and selected our winner from there.
What I was looking for in a Classic winner, was someone who embodied a very lady like and elegant silhouette, with traditional styling. The winner we chose was Lauren Allwood, who wore a beautiful white pussy bow blouse, a tailored jacket over the top and a layered tulle skirt. The wide brim leather hat with white roses by Allport Millinery was the perfect finishing touch. She paired it with a handle bag, black leather closed toe pumps and gloves. The floral brooch was a nice touch too.
It was Lauren’s first time entering Fashions on the Field! She said if it hadn’t been for her friends encouragement, she would have chickened out.
For the Contemporary category we were looking for something very on trend and a little bit fashion forward.
I think Contemporary is my favourite category as ladies can get experimental and try new things. The 15 entrants showcased some bold prints, unique designs and silhouettes and funky millinery.
Our winner was Shannon Dunne, making this her very first sash!! How exciting!
I loved Shannon’s unique look. The chequered sheer blouse with billowing sleeves and roll neck collar worn under her yellow dress was not only very on trend, but also the choice of print and colour made it stand out. Her shoe choice added to the drama of the outfit and she carried a funky square handled bag.
Shannon’s spectacular millinery was made by Ali Moor from NZ, which featured a textured rolled crown with oversized bow at the back. The unique shape and the way the bow ribbons were cut out into squares was superb. I couldn’t stop looking at this outfit!
Millinery is always a challenge to judge. From a judge’s perspective, hats that stand out in terms of construction, fabrication, size and colour, really appeal.
You want there to be enough elements in the hat to make it stand out and something with a twist of interest. It’s also important that the hat flows with the outfit.
Amongst the array of spectacular hats (all of which I would love to have in my wardrobe), we chose Jen Marsh as the millinery winner.
I just loved the interesting shape of her hat, the feather work and hand tooled metallic flowers that adorned it. It also tied in perfectly with her pink and blue outfit.
I have to mention; I also couldn’t stop looking at this black hat! It reminded me of a mushroom. The underside was pleated like the folds of a mushie and it sat up so beautifully on Nicki’s head. Absolutely stunning.
Shortly after the judging concluded and after a bubbly or two, I was on my flight back to Brisbane! I really enjoyed my trip to Rocky and want to thank everyone for having me there!!
Oh, and in case you were wondering why I used the hot water bottle metaphor…
Leave a Comment...
Spring Trends Report
The 2018 Spring / Summer Racing Fashion Trends Report. A 39 page comprehensive guide to what's trending this race season. Plus, you'll receive exclusive weekly fashion tips to help you stand out at your next race event.