Usually when I’m planning my racing calendar, I try to spread out the race dates that I’m attending so that I’ve got plenty of time to organise outfits. I’m a little bit pedantic and like to be super prepared, so I tend to start putting outfits together at least a couple of months out. However, earlier this year I managed to jam-pack my diary with some last minute dates, and I ended up with four race days to attend over a five week period with limited time to plan – something totally out of my comfort zone! This mad rush paid off in the end, and I was lucky enough to come home with a FOTF win at each of these race days. In this blog, I’ll run you through some of the planning that went into my winning streak this Autumn.
Being a full-time student, I don’t have a huge budget to spend on my FOTF outfits. I like to recycle my outfits and wear them at least a couple of times to get plenty of value out of them, and I find that mixing and matching is a good way to come up with a new look without breaking the bank on a whole new outfit.
My personal “rules” for recycling outfits:
- Never wear the same outfit to the same track.
- If possible, avoid wearing the same outfit in front of a judge who has already seen it.
- Try to change up at least one element – whether that be the dress, the millinery, or even just a new piece of jewellery.
When planning my outfits, I like to begin with creating a collage of photos to give myself an idea of how the dress, headpiece and accessories will come together – a great tip that I picked up from Melissa last year!
My first outing was on ANZAC day at The Entertainment Grounds at Gosford. While there was no specific theme for this race day, I thought it would be fitting to feature a commemorative poppy in my outfit. With this in mind, I decided to re-wear a navy and red outfit that I’d previously worn, and achieved a Top 10 placing at Canberra’s Black Opal Stakes.
My dress was a navy lace midi dress that I’d bought from ASOS, by a label called Dark Pink. I paired it with a turban by Claire Hahn, and finished with red and gold accessories that I already had in my closet. My shoes were also bought from ASOS, and my clutch was an Olga Berg favourite that just seems to go with everything. I was lucky enough to win Best Dressed Lady, and made some fabulous new friends as an added bonus!
The next weekend, I headed out west to Boorowa – a great country track that holds their very popular picnic races every autumn. I decided to give the navy dress one last outing, but changed up my millinery, shoes and jewellery. I replaced the turban with a red crown from Hats in Fashion by Kerry Mcglone, and added pearl earrings to complement the pearl accents in the millinery. I managed to pick up a great pair of Sam Edelman gold heels on the sales table at David Jones, which I went on to wear at the next few race days.
The Fashions on the Field was very competitive, with some fantastic autumn fashion on display. I’m always blown away with the quality and quantity of great outfits at country races! This time, I took home the Best Millinery prize.
My next adventure was a roadtrip to the Hunter Valley for the Scone Cup Carnival. Earlier in the year I’d bought a maroon pencil skirt from Sheike, and decided to build an outfit around this. I hired a piece of black and gold millinery from Hats in Fashion by Kerry Mcglone, and added a black lace top from Sonlia Fashion along with my trusty gold accessories. I couldn’t find any earrings that I liked, so I ended up buying some burgundy tassels from Spotlight and glueing them to a pair of gold earrings I already owned.
My beautiful friend Tracy borrowed my red crown to wear with her navy and red ensemble – another great example of mixing and matching headpieces with different outfits! The 8 hour round trip was well worth it to see some quality horse racing and dozens of beautiful outfits, and I was thrilled to win Best Millinery.
The final race day in this crazy month was at Shoalhaven City Turf Club’s Girls Day Out. The FOTF program offered a range of categories including Couples, so I decided to plan matching outfits for myself and my boyfriend. This outfit was my favourite of the season – a fantastic green lace dress by Mossman, complemented by the black and gold headpiece and gold accessories. I scoured eBay for some gents’ accessories, and picked up a matching tie, pocket square and lapel pin set.
As the rules at this race day stated that prizes could only be won in one category, I decided to skip the Ladies and Millinery categories and just enter the Couples section. My lucky streak continued, and we were sashed as Best Dressed Couple – a fantastic way to conclude my autumn racing season!
My top tips for outfit planning with limited time/budget:
- Shop the sales! Even when I don’t have a particular outfit in mind, I’m always on the lookout for bargain shoes, clutches, jewellery and other statement pieces that I can add to my wardrobe for future use.
- Stock up on neutral staples that will work with multiple outfits – black, white, gold and silver tend to go well with most things. My Olga Berg clutch and gold belt have now been worn at least half a dozen times each!
- Keep a stash of gloves on hand (pardon the pun!). I order cheap gloves in bulk from eBay in the most popular colours – sometimes the shipping can take a few weeks, but the price makes it worthwhile to do this ahead of time.
- Don’t be afraid to DIY! I have painted old shoes, bags and items of jewellery in order to jazz them up for a new outfit. A plain dress can be totally changed up with a new belt or a bit of embellishment, and millinery can be given a freshen-up with new feathers, flowers or quills. See Mel’s blog on creating cheap and easy DIY flowers for hats here.
- Good karma comes to those who share! I’m always happy to open up my wardrobe for friends, and swapping or loaning items can be a great way to build a new outfit without breaking the bank.
- Consider hiring a piece of millinery – this can be a great way to save a bit of money instead of buying a new headpiece. Keep an eye out for my next blog, which will explore the ins and outs of millinery hire!