I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
If you're a serious punter or a member of the horse racing fraternity you could be forgiven for thinking that horse racing in Australia is all about the horses, or even the betting. But I'll let you in on a little secret - it's actually about the fashion. The Sport of Kings has become the Sport of Princesses and nothing affirms that more than Fashions on the Field.
Fashion Winners - image from Fashions on the Field website
Fashions on the Field has come a long way since the Victorian Racing Club introduced Fashions, Flowers and Favourites in 1962 in an attempt to entice more women to the racetrack. Back then their aim was "to find the smartest dressed woman at the Carnival within economic constraints" but obviously some were more economically constrained than others because they had 2 categories - one for racewear that cost less than £30, and one for outfits that cost more than £50. And the prize for all this sartorial splendour? A return sea trip for two to the United Kingdom valued at a whopping £1400.
These days a day at the races is a fashionista frenzy. Fashions on the Field categories are Women's Racewear, Men's Racewear, Millinery Award and Design Award. While the Millinery and Design Awards are reserved for the professionals any one can enter the Racewear stakes. And it's no longer all about Flemington and the Melbourne Cup Carnival. In 2005 Fashions on the Field became a national event. You can enter at race meetings all around the country throughout the year simply by filling in a registration form and presenting yourself for judging. State Winners receive a trip to Victoria for the National Final, held on Crown Oaks Day, this year Thursday 3 November.
Racewear Fashion Do's and Dont's
It's a good idea to keep these in mind before you race out to purchase your outfit:
- You must be at least 18 to enter
- For women a hat or fascinator is a must.
- Your outfit must not commercially promote a brand, store or designer.
- Clubbing couture doesn't go down well with the judges. They're looking for "stylish and elegant" not "party girl". You should be channelling Audrey Hepburn rather than Paris Hilton.
- Pay as much attention to the accessories as the outfit. Shoes, hats and handbags are deal-breakers.
This year the National Winner for Women's Racewear will receive prizes to the value of $100,000. So all you fashionable fillies and fellas need to be off and racing in the fashion stakes if you want a chance at being first past the post in the most lucrative and accessible fashion event in the country.