One of the biggest race days in Brisbane is Stradbroke Cup Raceday and the FOTF theme is black and white, with a touch of red.

Of the four major race days of the season I only really had the time to enter this one. So, I went all out!

Stradbroke Cup Fashions on the Field

Finding a Black and White Dress

Because I feel like I’ve found my signature shape (hooray), I decided on reusing a design by Andrew Semple.

He made me a gorgeous dress for the Prime Minister’s Cup, which is a fitted midi length dress with pockets, pulled in at the waist to accentuate the shape and has a zip all the way down the back.

I love the shape, I just had to find the fabric. And the embellishments. And the shoes and the bag and the….I had a lot of work ahead.

blackboard chalk fashion sketch illustration

After searching for days for fabrics in stores, nothing was grabbing me. Andrew showed me some black and white floral fabric he purchased a few months earlier and it was perfect!

He had the brilliant idea of reversing the fabric too, so from the bodice down the fabric was slightly different. Using the same print in contrasting colours gave it a subtle print clash.

black and white floral fabric

As usual, my decision-making process was painfully slow and by the time I’d settled on the idea, it was only a week out. Andrew worked nonstop for three days (bless) and it was PERFECT!

dressmaking pattern DIY

homemade dress pattern

The dress can be worn with the sleeves down or rolled up with a black feature hem. I liked the look of the sleeves rolled up as it tied in well with my black waist belt.

sleeves rolled up down feature hem

Finding the Right Hat to Match the Dress

Now I needed to find the right hat.

I had seen a couple of hats scrolling through Instagram on Joli Boutique’s feed and visited the store in Brisbane. I purchased this beautiful black percher with lace overlay and flower details.

A perfect match for the fabric of my dress, even the flower looked like the flower print on my dress.

black flower floral fascinator millinery

At first I considered wearing the red hat below to really make sure I had my touch of red but decided the black hat above was better suited.

red hat millinery

Some veiling added a touch of mystery and it’s very on trend this winter. I just had to give it ‘a touch of red’.

hat veil veiling black netting

Embellishing my Dress with Biot Feathers

I love the way Biot (goose) feathers look, especially when tied into knots to look like barbed wire, and wanted to incorporate them into my hat somewhere, but they didn’t work.

I ended up sewing them onto my dress for added texture.

biot goose feather texture embellish

biot goose feather race dress embellishment sewing

It’s amazing how much a little bit of beading and embellishments can change a dress.

Adding a Touch of Red

I found two pink quills in my ‘scrap box’ at home, so I curled them with my hair curler and painted them red. Using my hair dryer, they were dry within a minute! Handy tip when you don’t have time to wait for paint to dry.

millinery pink quills

I played around with them until they were in the right position and sewed them onto my hat! Voila! My touch of red!

fascinator embellishment quills

milano imai black fascinator

I also sewed on one red flower at the back, so when I turned around an extra little surprise was waiting.

stradbroke cup back of hat

Homemade Brooch from an Old Necklace

I still felt I needed another small touch of red but couldn’t work out where.

I ended up pulling a flower off an old necklace and painting it with the same red paint as my quills. Then I added some black wispy material. A new brooch!

homemade red flower brooch

Keeping the Accessories Simple

With all this detail going on, I kept my accessories simple.

Black leather gloves, black enclosed heels ($39 from Famous Footwear, by the way. And comfy), an Op Shop black belt, Colette bag covered in sequinned fabric, and sheer stockings.


Oh, Hair.

milano imai racing fashion stradbroke

My Race Day Hairstyle

The only hair dresser I could find with such short notice was The Blow In Bar, in Brisbane.

When I called, they said they were booked out from 6:30am. After suggesting a few times, “Unless someone is willing to come in slightly earlier to fit me in” they called me back later to say someone actually was willing!

In desperate times, a little pestering doesn’t go astray.

races hairstyles with fascinator

race day hairstyle with fascinator

So at 5am the morning of, my dear mum, Tania and I drove to Brisbane (I can’t drive with a hat on my head, hence the entourage).

The Blow In Bar did a fantastic job with a beautiful up style. My friends will tell you I am VERY fussy, so, it was such a pleasant surprise that my hair stylist had magic hands. Click here to see some popular race day hairstyles.

On the Day at the Race Track

It was a gorgeous day in Brisbane, chilly start, ending up at 24 degrees and clear skies.

At the race track it was a wonderful surprise to see so many fashion friends I hadn’t seen for a long time, as well as girls from interstate who flew in for the day!

The outfits were among the best I’d ever seen and everyone’s look was so individual. I couldn’t even pick my favourite. I had about 10!!

There were just over 80 girls competing, although a man drinking a beer from his boot stole the show for a moment. The judges must have had a really tough job, but they announced the Top Ten and one of them was me!

stradbroke cup day top 10 finalists

Top 10 finalists

Thrilled to bits, I felt great in my outfit and was privileged to be chosen out of so much competition.

So, I almost fell off my $39 heels when I was announced as first place! The winner? The winner.

I was overwhelmed by all the kind words from the girls and received the biggest bouquet of flowers I’ve ever seen and a very generous shopping voucher from the Indoorpoopilly Shopping Centre! Fabulous day. Who needs a man when you have FOTF right?

milano imai stradbroke cup day winner


If you’d like to see how I made some of my other outfits including my white leather lace dress that won the Tattersall’s FOTF competition, just enter your email below and I’ll send you my pdf guide that shows the whole process.