A Fashions on the Field entrant arrives and there is a certain hush amongst the crowd. All eyes are instantly drawn in her direction. Including mine. My jaw drops and I think (out loud) ‘WOW’.
That’s the WOW factor.
But what exactly is it? What is it that determines a judge’s decision and sees a lucky lady walking away with a sash?
In a sea of beautiful, immaculately dressed women, what can you do to stand out?
You need to add a little pizzazz to your outfit; the icing on the cake, the star on the Christmas tree, the hint of Baileys in your morning coffee… Something that has that distinct point of difference.
It can be in the form of an exaggerated feature, a striking colour, a piece of millinery so amazing it could enter on its own, a spectacular silhouette or a fabric so stunning everyone is, well, stunned.
So next time you are working out your race day outfit, think ‘WOW’. These days where the fashion stakes are reaching new highs every year, it’s not enough just to look “good”, you have to look amazing.
Let’s look at some recent race day winners and how they created their ‘WOW’.
1. Creating WOW with a Colour / Print
Using a bold colour can be your statement feature. Lindsay rocked up to Stradbroke Cup Race Day in this Dior-inspired full tulle skirt, tailored jacket and red wide brim hat by Marilyn Van Den Berg. The moment I saw Lindsay, I knew she would win.
No one could take their eyes off her!! In this case, Lindsay’s choice to dress top to bottom in bright red is what made the outfit. Had she gone with the same outfit in a white, or black, or combination of colours, I don’t think it would have had the same impact… What are your thoughts?
This interesting mix of colours and prints won Hannah a sash at the Prix De Fashion FOTF Finals. She added a blue striped ruffled hem to the skirt and draped it around the neck.
She picked up the orange tones in the print of her dress to incorporate into her halo. Had Hannah worn the dress without the additions, she still would have had a beautiful outfit, but not as stand out as she made it.
Parris stole the show in this mustard and checkered combination. The checkered fabric was the perfect choice to compliment the mustard, creating an overall eye catcher. Had she chosen another block colour, the design wouldn’t have stood out as much.
I’m not sure whether to put this one under ‘Stand-out Millinery’ or ‘Print’, but you get the gist; a simple shift dress comes to life with the exciting, bold print. The print paired with a large and striking piece of millinery was all it took for Chloe Moo to win the Myer National Title in 2013.
2. Use a Stunning Fabric
A lot of the time, fabric choice can make the whole outfit! You may notice, many brands will choose a very simple design in a dress and use a different fabric for each collection, bringing it to life again and again, without ever changing the original design.
Race wear outfits are the same, with a simple design you can use your fabric to be the WOW factor.
Elizabeth wore a striking embroidered dress to Tauranga Races and walked away the Supreme Winner.
Although her dress was an elegant, simple cut, the fabric did all the talking.
Of course, the divine millinery piece that complemented her outfit perfectly by Monika Neuhauser was hard to ignore. But picture this dress in a plain colour, or even in a print. The embroidered fabric was the right choice <3
Crystal always has an array of exciting prints and colours in her race wear outfits. I especially loved this tube dress, which she wore with a long sleeve blouse underneath.
The dress print with a slightly quilted look had me swooning the moment I saw it. She has worn this dress with many different undershirts and every time (thanks to the dress being so amazing) she has always stood out.
This is me at Stradbroke Cup last year, wearing a staple design of mine- a midi length pencil dress. The feature here is the jacquard floral fabric, which was on trend that year, and inverted to create some interest.
One of my favourites to watch, is Stacie, who won the QLD State Final Competition in a canary yellow dress, with geometric print lace overlay. In this case, the lace was the stand out feature. Had this dress been made in a plain yellow fabric or if it had an over lay in a plain tulle, it wouldn’t have had the ‘WOW’ factor.
3. Stand Out Millinery
Millinery can make or break your look.
In the words of Courtney Moore– National Myer FOTF winner 2016, “Have a stand out piece of millinery. The millinery completes an outfit, it gives your outfit the look you want, the genre and the style you are going for, so always make time to search for good millinery and milliners.”
Race wear shapes and styles can get a bit ‘same, same’ at times. But your millinery is what you can use to stand out from the rest.
Courtney’s mother Irene Moore, spent three weeks making her this beautiful piece. It complemented the structural shape of her top perfectly, and then she added jewels and beads to give it that extra special touch. This hat alone deserves a prize!!
I love this hat Tanya wore by Allport Millinery (who has been making some seriously epic hats lately). Her dress was a lovely shape, white with a flounce and button back feature. She kept her accessories simple and classic and used her millinery as the statement. Had she opted for a plain percher or crown, it may have been lost in the overall look of the outfit.
If you haven’t discovered Millinery Market yet, I encourage you to come check it out! It’s a great place to find your next stand out piece of millinery to rent or buy.
4. Make your Accessories the Feature
Next time you are accessorising, have a little think about making them a feature rather than just adding them ‘just because’ (I’m super guilty of this).
Maree stood out from the crowd in this stunning dove grey, lace, pencil dress and vintage accessories. Had Maree opted for a nude/black heel and just a clutch the whole outfit would have looked very different and even a little plain.
She nailed it by highlighting the rich navy blue in a sheen for the gloves. And the blue feather shawl and vintage belt really sets it off for me. I couldn’t stop staring and admiring! Click right on the image below to see close ups of her accessories.
I’m not the best at accessorising, so when I saw Lindsay in this outfit I learnt a few things. The very on trend leather corset tie up belt, hand held bag, fur stole draped over one arm, jeweled earrings, the tie up strappy heel and a cluster flower brooch, all combined together, took the simple floral dress to the next level. The ‘WOW” level.
5. Have a Unique Design or Feature
A unique design in itself can make an outfit. Stace is a perfect example in her beautiful dress, gold accessories and millinery.
Her dress feature is the exaggerated sleeve, that falls asymmetrically and is longer at the back. This on its own was dramatic enough that she could keep the rest of her look quite understated.
I love the look of something different. It’s good to step outside the box and try a new style, wear a new colour, pair two unusual shapes together… I like how Simone’s outfit below by Bel Cappello is very different to the usual silhouettes we see on FOTF stages, such as midi pencils and full skirts- it has a fresh vibe to it.
Elizabeth is no stranger to a sash and knows how to add the WOW factor to any outfit.
Elizabeth wears all black, but her unique feature is the neck bow and sheer fabric over her dress. The enlarged bow is stunning and really stands out in a crowd, whilst the sheer fabric gives her outfit another layer of depth and interest.
6. Wowing on Themed Race Days
When attending a themed race day, sometimes it’s best to ‘just stick to it’. Sounds simple, but some judges can be very strict.
Recently I won the Doomben 10, 000 FOTF. The theme was ‘embellishment’ which I interpreted through fabrics that had an embellished texture and beaded my sleeves and neckline.
Although there were many beautiful outfits that day (some I liked more than mine) I think having stuck to the theme really worked for me and is what pushed me over the line to win the sash.
Alla attended a race day with the theme Fashion Forward. She translated the theme into a funky, striped, midi length dress with some pants underneath and lined the dress with the same fabric. She wore a turban, with edges that worked well with the hem edges of her skirt. Alla designs and sews all her own outfits and millinery- how talented is she!
7. Don’t Forget about Stage Presence
Last of all, this is a big one here… stage presence!! Never has there been a beauty pageant where the winner wore a bland expression.
Smile at the judges, look confident even if you’re shaking at the knees, make eye contact with everyone in the audience and enjoy yourself. Strut your stuff. Own the stage.