I am a self-confessed Pinterest addict and because I search for racewear photos so often I have started to ‘get to know’ many women that frequently pop up while I am scrolling through Fashions on the Field boards. I don’t know these people in real life, but I feel like I do because with the magic of technology we are able to connect through our similar interests.

 

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I realise that I sound like a crazy stalker but I know what competitions many of these ladies have entered and what outfits they have worn to them. It’s because I have studied these photos, and taken my own inspiration from them, that I get a feeling of who these clever ladies are – the way we dress is a reflection of our personality and what message we want to send out to the world.

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IMAGE: Pinterest

Alyse-Grace Jenner is one of those ladies that I came across when I first started using Pinterest for fashion inspiration. Each time I saw a picture her outfit choices were spot on from head to toe. It went a little bit like this “ooohhh yes I like that”… PIN, “that hat is gorgeous”… PIN, “this lady knows how to dress”… PIN, “I want those gloves”… PIN, “never thought of putting those colours together”… PIN!

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Her style is elegant and refined but it is also fun and playful as she experiments with colour combinations and prints like a master! Her outfits are always so vibrant and eye catching. Her textural black combination recently won her 2nd place in Brisbane. She’s definitely got a knack for styling and creating timeless looks that will continue to pop up all over Pinterest for years to come.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a Brisbane based racegoer with a passion for fashion, writing, travel, cooking and renovating. Married with plenty of fur babies, my goals include taking a course in Millinery, going on The Block and representing my home state of Queensland in the MYER National Competition.

 

Q1. What do you love about going to the races?
My sister and I grew up around horses and pony club so horse racing seemed a natural progression for us later in life. I love walking through the stables and seeing the horses in the mounting yard, right through to the excitement of the racing. It’s definitely my favourite reason to get dressed up and have a day out with friends and family!

 

Q2. When did you start competing in Fashions on the Field (FOTF)? Why did you decide to participate?
My first FOTF competition was the 2008 Queensland MYER State Final – I made the Top 10 and was instantly hooked. I decided to give FOTF a try after encouragement from Brisbane Milliner Patricia Balmer and Hat Box owner Dale Olsson, whom I had sat beside at a Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival event earlier in the year. They assured me FOTF wasn’t just for models or budding designers and that anyone could give it a go! Needless to say if I had not have met them that day I may very well have never entered an FOTF competition.

Q3. Can you explain the process of putting together an outfit for FOTF? Do you plan your hat or dress first? Where do you source your items etc?

My FOTF outfits tend to revolve around one feature element. It could be a gorgeous pair of shoes, eye-catching millinery or a unique fabric. I’ve found that if I’m totally in love with one item it’s easy to complete the FOTF outfit-puzzle. Mood boards are a great tool for seeing how things are going to come together as well!

I tend to source a majority of my outfits online using fashion retailers like ASOS, House of Fraser and Farfetch. For accessories I love Olga Berg, MYER and Etsy. When creating my own designs I use Gardams and Emma One Sock for fabric. I’ve also had my own custom fabric made using the Spoonflower website.

For my last winning outfit I started with the floral Ted Baker scuba dress first. I fell in love as soon as I put it on – it fit like a glove! Next Jill Humphries of Jill & Jack Millinery made me the most gorgeous wide brim lavender headpiece with leather flowers and vines to match the dress. From there I literally bought five pairs of shoes and two clutches, but unfortunately they were all too matchy-matchy. My husband (who was looking for his own FOTF outfit) was walking past Wittner the night before the event and sent me a photo of these gorgeous Rose Gold shoes, and while normally I would consider them a little too “strappy”, they were perfect in balancing out the predominately classic look.

Outfit details: Dress by Ted Baker, Millinery by Jill & Jack Millinery, Heels by Wittner, Clutch by Olga Berg, Watch by ASOS and Leather Gloves purchased in Venice. Female Winner of the Overall 2015 Tattersall’s Fashions on the Field Competition.

Q4. On average how much do you spend on an entire outfit?
For feature race days I would say around $1,000 top to toe – more if it’s an off-the-rack designer dress. For smaller, local days I try to stick to a budget of $500.

 

Q5. What has been your favourite outfit? Why?
That’s a really hard one! If I had to pick it would be a dress I had made from fabrics purchased in France, paired with laser cut leather accessories from Uruguay and a unique hand-painted headpiece complete with paintbrushes from the UK. It took quite some time to find each element, literally from all over the globe, so it was really satisfying when it all came together. Looking back on it now (I wore it in seven years ago) it was probably too matchy-matchy by today’s FOTF standards, but I still love the texture, creativity and collaboration of the outfit.

Q6. How would you describe your style?Who do you follow or look to for your outfit inspiration?
I would describe my style as elegant and textured – building layers and telling a story is definitely my favourite part of the process!
For inspiration I trawl the latest collections on Vogue online, the Edit by Net-a-Porter, Pantone online for trending colours as well as various Instagram accounts – mainly Kate Waterhouse (@katewaterhouse7) for her effortless style and Moda Operandi for more runway inspo (@modaoperandi).

 

IMAGE: @katewaterhouse7

IMAGE: @modaoperandi

Q7. What FOTF events have you won and what were the prizes?
2011 Ladies Racewear at Gold Coast Turf Club Magic Millions – Pearl jewelry, MYER vouchers, trip to Thailand, beauty products and luggage.
2011 Ladies Racewear at Brisbance Racing Club Melbourne Cup Day – Westfield vouchers.
2012 Ladies Racewear at Gold Coast Turf Club Magic Millions Ladies Day – Diamond jewelry and clothing vouchers.
2012 Ladies Racewear at Brisbance Racing Club BTC Cup Day – Westfield vouchers.
2012 Classic Ladies Racewear at Queensland Ladies’ Oaks Day – Shopping vouchers and accomodation.
2015 Couples Racewear at Ipswich Cup Day – Shopping vouchers.
2015 Fillies’ Racewear at Ballina Cup – Wine and vouchers.
2015 Overall Female Competition at Tattersall’s Celebration Season Race Day 2015 – Business class trip to Singapore with Singapore Airlines.

IMAGE: Ross Stevenson

Q8. What do you do with your old racewear items?
I like to get two wears out of my millinery before selling them, although there are plenty I just can’t party with! I usually sell my complete outfits through eBay, Facebook sale pages and through my styling website Airs & Graces. The one element I have never been able to part with is my gloves – I’m hoping they’ll be a great hand-me-down one day.

 

Q9. Do you prefer Autumn/Winter or Summer/Spring fashion? Why?
Personally I prefer Summer/Spring. Being a Queenslander, we get more wear out of our cooler outfits. I just adore the colours, freedom and playfulness of the season. You can also wear longer, sleeved outfits in Summer and still look amazing. The same can’t be said for Autumn/Winter where sleeves and layering seem to be strongly favoured.

 

Q10. What advice do you have for ladies (and gents) wanting to enter FOTF for the first time?
Research the appropriate seasonal/race day requirements and (if you’re feeling really studious) the judges and their favoured styles, which you can usually work out via a quick Instagram scan. Keep in mind the “FOTF rule book” has pretty much been thrown out the window in recent years so most importantly, be comfortable in your outfit and your confidence will shine through.

Love thy milliner and invest in bespoke headwear.

I also think taking a risk can definitely pay off, depending on the race day. I tend to do so on the more classic race days. You’ll tend to find the opposite on the brighter days, where being uber classic on a colourful day could play in your favour.

My tip for the gents would be to have your suit tailored and never underestimate a statement sock – they can make a surprising difference!

 

Q11. Who are your favourite designers? If you could have one item made by one of them what would it be?
Designers Peter Pilotto, Maticevski, Valentino, Ralph & Russo, Chanel, Roksanda Ilincic, Dolce & Gabbana and Erdem are definitely my favourites. If I could have one of their pieces it would be a Chanel LBD (little black dress) – timeless and versatile.

IMAGE: freakdeluxe.co.uk

IMAGE: stylefrizz.com

IMAGE: neontommy.com

IMAGE: couturing.com

Q12. Tell us about how Airs and Graces came about. How does the consultation process work?
Airs and Graces came about in early 2015 after a few years of receiving a lot of enquiries about FOTF. Ladies were asking me how to put an outfit together, what to invest in, what the judges are looking for etc. It seemed like a natural progression to start a racewear styling service! The consultation process is purely online or done via email/phone. For a small nominal fee I provide my clients with three full looks, along with the purchase details for their favourite look. Our Facebook page also provides followers with weekly inspiration boards featuring fabulous Milliners and Designers.

Q13. What do you love more… styling others or yourself?
I would have to say styling others. I have convinced a few clients to take a risk and step outside their comfort zone and they have all been so happy they did! Giving someone confidence is definitely more satisfying than receiving accolades for your own outfit.

 

Q14. What’s the next FOTF or race meet you will be attending?
I’m headed to the Gold Coast Turf Club this weekend and the next FOTF comp I’ll be entering is the UBET BTC Cup Day at Doomben on May 14th. After having missed the last few Winter carnivals in Brisbane I’m really looking forward to this year!

 

Q15. What do you think will be the big trends leading into the Spring Racing Carnival this year?
I think off-the-shoulder looks will be popular and surprisingly favoured by the judges, as well as stripes. There was also a lot of romantic, ornate Latin-style looks on the SS16 runways which are already translating trackside, as seen on the first Championships Day.

We hope to share more stories with you so we can get to know each other better through our common interest and love for dressing up! Although we are competition to each other up on the stage there is no reason we can’t find friendships through fashion! If you would like to be a featured filly please contact us with your story.

 

Xx Mel

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