Today is a great day. I get to write my very first blog post! And shall we just get one thing out of the way straight up?
I’m no writer.
I’m a self-proclaimed race wear junky. I wear it, I design it, I make it. That’s my thing.
So bear with me while I fuss around with my thesaurus and my muddled head and try to get this out in one smooth swoop, whilst trying to work my way around my brand new GOLD MACBOOK (love heart eyes) which is supposed to inspire me into becoming race wear fashion blogger extraordinaire.
I guess my leading blog should focus on what I think is THE MOST IMPORTANT information to know when planning your race day outfit.
This info goes out to all girls, whether you’re just someone who wants to get things right on race day or if you take your frocks a tad more seriously and are entering Fashions on The Field (FOTF).
This post is for the race novice, so to those seasoned race goers out there I apologize for any “duh” moments. But believe me when I say, not everyone knows the basic dress regulations.
So, here we go. The 10 top most important YAY’s and NEIGH’s (Ha) of Racing Fashion.
1) No Spaghetti Straps
Forget it. I don’t care if you sweat. Or if you have wicked deltoids. Thin straps are out: wide shoulders and sleeves are always in.
The races are meant to be a classy event. Feminine, classy and modest. So leave your spaghetti straps at home or slip them on for a hot date in a salsa bar instead.
2) No Midriffs
Please put your bellies away. It’s not a good look. Most real women (who like cake) do not have washboard stomachs anyway, but even if you do it’s still a races no-go.
A little story to illustrate my point is that last year the Perth FOTF State Finalist purchased a dress from Toni Maticevski which had a big cut out feature on the midriff.
As the savvy race-goer is aware of the no-midriff code, she asked them to alter her dress and fill in the gap with the same fabrics used on the dress.
Outcome? She was named first runner up and looked absolutely stunning!
Another important thing regarding bellies is that you won’t be allowed in the member’s area if yours is showing. I made this mistake last year.
I didn’t wear a midriff bearing outfit, but I wore a high waisted pencil skirt and a top that covered the waist band of the skirt.
As I hadn’t changed any light bulbs in front of a mirror that morning, I didn’t realise that when I reached up high a little bit of skin could be seen.
The lady from the member’s area was reluctant to even let me in!
Personally, I don’t mind the look of a cut out in a dress. Last year quite a few designers showcased collections with side cut-outs and I really liked the look of them, but for the sake of entering FOTF I would say right now it is still a no-go.
3) No Short Hem Lines
Hem lines ladies- let’s keep them below the knee if you can. I have seen, on occasion, where a hemline ending just above the knee has scored a place in FOTF, but usually those skirts are A-line and tailored.
I think a longer hemline is more flattering on most people anyway and you certainly don’t want to look like you’re going clubbing under any circumstances. Keep it long.
Having said all that, midi length is very in this year and I think we will see a lot more of it at the Spring Racing Carnival in November.
4) Nothing Too Booby
Boobs are great. And showing off a nice smooth décolletage is nice. But there’s a time and place for such display, and the racecourse isn’t it.
You can accentuate a nice bust with a scooped neckline, but usually higher necklines are favoured. It all comes back to the key word for the races: classy.
Last year I wore a beautiful teal silk Aurellio Costarella dress that had a cut out on the bust. I loved the colour and was determined to wear it, but felt the cut out on the bust was too revealing for FOTF, so I had to get creative.
I added some gold mesh to the neckline, making the cut out section smaller and covering up the boobs a bit more.
I ended up placing second on Melbourne Cup Day, but later read an article about how my outfit had made a stir because my cleavage was “barely concealed”.
So it just goes to show FOTF fans have no tolerance for it.
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5) Nothing Too Tight
Race outfits are more structured and usually not made out of stretchy figure-hugging fabrics.
A nice tailored pencil dress or an A-line dress flatters the figure rather than showing every little bend and bump of it. Some entrants do attempt the clingy versions of race wear, but, in my experience, I have never known any of them to make it past the heats of an FOTF event.
And anyway, there are plenty of opportunities to shimmy into your sexy Lycra numbers on any given Saturday night.
The races are a great excuse to bring out that fabulous structured dress you haven’t had a chance to wear yet.
6) Must Have Millinery
This is a big one. Millinery is a must. Must have millinery. An outfit simply isn’t complete without it. And it’s FUN. When else do you get the chance to wear a fabulous hat!
Of course, there are rules….no baseball caps, beanies, visors….Your hat should compliment your outfit and work well with your accessories. If you have a plain coloured dress you can add colour to your outfit through your hat, bag, necklace and shoes.
I realise hats can be expensive, but here’s where a touch of creative flair can help you out. You can buy a cheap base and add your own flowers, feathers or anything else you want.
A friend of mine makes her hats out of place mats! She always looks incredible.
But if you are entering FOTF in the hopes of taking out the sash, I would suggest investing a little more cash into your hat, or even getting one custom made to perfectly match your outfit.
I have missed out on the winning spot purely because my millinery could have been better. I’ve learnt that you really can’t skimp on your hat if you are serious about winning.
And with e-bay and gumtree-type websites, you can always sell your hat afterwards. Or alter it to suit a different outfit.
7) Appropriate Footwear
The thought of footwear at the races can break even the most professional race fashionista into a sweat.
Grass is not a steady platform. And you have to be on those feet all day. You can’t (my rules) go barefoot in the racing precinct OR on the way home.
Leave the barefoot spaghetti-strapped swagger for the tragic. It’s not a good look!
Make sure your footwear is comfortable, and don’t buy it if it’s not.
If you do insist on wearing the drop-dead-gorgeous-but-will-break-my-feet-in-an-hour pair then you gotta get them early enough so you can wear them in.
Vacuum in them. Shop in them. Take the dog for a walk in them.
And then on the day pack a pair of flats in a bag to change into later if necessary. (Click here to see what else I pack into my race day handbag.)
Don’t make my mistake. I once wore a pair of heels for the first time during Spring Carnival and wore them for a full ten hours straight. I then spent the next two weeks in a sore-foot coma.
8) Dress for the Season
The different seasons have an effect on what you will wear and how the event will feel.
In Spring and Summer favour bright coloured outfits. Your millinery can be made of sinamay or straw and it’s time to adorn yourself with floral embellishments.
It’s also an opportunity to put some feminine open-toe and strappy heels in bright colours and fun designs.
Autumn and Winter bring about some earthier tones; reds, oranges, dark greens and navy are more popular. In the cooler months, your millinery can be made of leather, felt or wool and keep your embellishments minimal.
Gloves are an interesting accessory to play around with when it is cold and they can add an elegant touch to your outfit.
Judges are looking for ‘appropriate race wear for the season,’ so don’t be afraid to wear layers and dress for a cold day.
Footwear in the cooler seasons should always have a closed toe and hosiery provides a finished look (and is a sneaky way to add a little warmth).
9) Attention to Current Trends
If you are entering a FOTF contest, part of the judge’s criteria requires that the winner has an understanding of and is able to interpret current fashion trends.
You need to do your homework and try to work these trends into your outfit because judges will be looking for it. Buy some mags and tune into Fashion TV, keeping your eye on the colours, shapes and patterns emerging in the fashion scene.
I might just add here, while it is important to watch current trends, you also need to dress to your body type. We aren’t all size two models of perfection who can swan around in whatever they please.
If midi pencil dresses are in fashion and your body type is more suited to an A-line style, then go with the most flattering option.
10) The Personal Touch
It seems there are more girls than dresses these days and favoured designers often have multiple girls turn up in their designs, so it’s not unlikely that you could be wearing the same dress as someone else!
All that effort just to discover you’re cloned!
Don’t believe me? Last year, the overall FOTF winner at the Spring Carnival was wearing the same dress as four other entrants. But she still got to drive home in the shiny new Lexus.
So how did she do it? Personal touch.
Work on creating your own signature style; something original and un-clonable (is that a word?). A quirkiness, which is just you.
You don’t need to be a designer for this. You can still buy off the rack. Just think about ways you can alter your outfit so it’s different.
I bought a Cue dress in 2013 that I embellished for the QLD state finals in January. I changed the sleeves, beaded the front and back and it looked like a completely different garment when I’d finished with it.
I loved it so much I wanted to wear it again for the Spring Carnival, so I re-invented it once more by adding some extra colour.
On the day I saw another girl wearing my dress (the dull off the rack version) and even another girl who had copied the embellishments I had made to the dress in January!
Now they say that imitation is the best form of flattery, but it still could have been an awkward situation on stage. I was super glad I had changed it up!!
So, did I miss any important Yays and Nays of Racing Fashion? Share your thoughts and personal experiences in the comments below.
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