If I had a dollar for every time I get asked, “So how on earth did you get into millinery and doing Fashions on the Field?” I would be able to purchase a wardrobe full of Maticevski and Manolos. AHHH DREAMING! But on a serious note it wasn’t until I took a little time off from competing that I got some perspective on the ‘WHY’ because I found that I missed it, a lot.
It’s very easy to get swept up in all the pageantry because FOTF is addictive for so many reasons! But isn’t that why we love it? Stepping up a stage for the first time is daunting, I’m not going to lie, it still gives me butterflies. In the beginning I wasn’t sure where the nerves came from, it may have be that others were judging me or that I judged myself, quite often too harshly.
When up on stage there is always a self critical voice of doubt in the back of my head asking “Does the bag go ok?”, “Have you made your hat interesting enough?”, “Is the hat too over the top?”, “Should I have worn the pink lipstick instead of the red?”… the voice doesn’t come up for air I swear! Why can’t the voice be positive, with whispers of “Yep, you nailed it girl”, or “That top makes your eyes sparkle”.
Myer FOTF Adelaide Cup
At some point you have to tell yourself to STOP because this type of thinking is not healthy! As time goes on I have become a little less nervous because my attitude towards winning has changed. Switching the “you aren’t good enough” voice into a “I like what you’ve done with that” voice (without going into “I love myself sick” overdrive) has, for me, made FOTF more enjoyable. There is so much more to take away from FOTF than prizes. The FOTF community is full of amazing women and friendships are the biggest win you can get from competing, that’s what I value the most!
My number one tip for FOTF first timers is take the pressure off yourself and ENJOY the reason you are at the track. Whether it’s friends, fashion, your horse running or just because you like to dress up, FOTF is meant to be FUN not something that turns you into a ball of nerves! If it stops being fun you might as well throw in the towel! You can’t take FOTF too seriously or it will drag you down into the deep dark depths of credit limit hell and you’ll end up in retail rehab!
As we all know there is much time spent waiting in line at most FOTF events. So if it’s your first time or your fifteenth, instead of looking down at your watch spend a minute telling the person next to you that you love something in particular from their outfit, ask questions about where people are from and who they came with, smile empathetically (instead of laughing) at the lady with a high heel stuck in the grass and offer to hold her drink while she recovers, stick those useless coat hanger ribbons back in for that lady with the amazing hat on, take time to appreciate the collective hours spent sewing dresses and hand crafting hats and most importantly remember that most people will be feeling the same as you are.
The common interest of FOTF ties us all together so let’s embrace it and admire each other rather than judge! A strong sense of community will encourage exciting new participants rather have them running for the hills in fear of bitchyness and shallow egos.
My tips for first timers
I was lucky enough that the first time I entered a FOTF event (years ago at the Darwin Cup) I won but this is rarely the case, I put it down to pure luck. A positive attitude will ensure you walk away a winner no matter what.
-Don’t doubt your true self and let your personality shine. If you don’t love what you are wearing then try for something you feel more comfortable in.
-Plan a little. Do a try on before hand (if you have time) to make sure the outfit works all together. Put together a bit of a style board of things you like (check out this blog on how to do it on your phone How to plan your next FOTF outfit)
-Dress to the guidelines and weather. You may need to research the event or have a back up for your outfit if it’s a tricky time of the year like Autumn or Spring when the weather can change at the drop of a hat.
-Work with a milliner who makes pieces that you love, don’t expect a milliner to change their style to suit you. Get in early and be honest with them, the more information you give the happier you will be with the end product.
-Have fun and chat to people, making ‘fashion friends’ will make the day a memorable one.
I chatted to some FOTF trailblazers about their top tips for entering for the first time. Here’s what they had to say about what you’re getting yourself in for… it’s not as scary as it seems – we promise!
Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @racewear_carousel or #racewearcarousel so we can see all your fabulous fashion
P.S. A BIG thank you to these generous ladies for taking the time to contribute and share their experiences with us.
“First and foremost enjoy! It is not a competition against other women, it is definitely more an occasion to support, encourage and celebrate each other.”
“My number one tip for FOTF first timers is to invest in bespoke millinery – even if it’s second hand. And if you don’t have the cash to do so, then reach out to FOTF entrants who may be willing to hire you their pieces.”
“Tip 2: It’s all in the details – don’t forget about your accessories! The right combination of clutch, gloves, bracelet, rings, watch, earrings, necklace, belt, brooch or hosiery can make or break an FOTF outfit.”
“My top tip is to smile and try have a good time on stage even if your petrified!”
Giving FOTF a go for the first time is exciting though can also be daunting. My tips is to first do your research of the event. Check the theme of the particular raceday, also what season it is in. This will affect your outfit and millinery styling (felt winter, leather transeasonal and sinamay/straw spring).
Also I like to mood board what I’m feeling for my look that way it will allow you to really grasp the concept you want to achieve. Once you’re happy with your whole look, my last tip is to ensure you arrive with enough time up your sleeve. Nothing worse than feeling flustered getting to the event!
“Feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. There’s nothing worse than having an ill fitting dress, new shoes that you haven’t worn in a little or a hat that digs into your head. For me racing fashion is like wearable art, but you need to have fun and enjoy it too!!”
“The main point to focus on when Entering Fashions on the Field is to have a fun day at the races. This will take the pressure off the competition as the work has already been done so you might as well enjoy the day.”
“To improve your chances on stage it is also important you feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing, this absolutely shines out on stage and will ultimately increase your chances. Finally, ensure you arrive early to socialise with the other contestants. In my experience everyone is really nice & great fun. You will be part of the fashions community in no time.”
“My number one tip would be to make sure you wear something that you absolutely love, you feel comfortable in and suits your body shape. That way you will not only look and feel great but also feel more confident when on the stage.”
“My tip for a first time FOTF entrant would be to always wear a smile and be confident in yourself and your racewear. A smile though is always the best accessory for any entrant.”
“Stay true to your personal style, confidence in this is your best accessory whilst on stage.”