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Fashion On The Field tips

Fashion on the Field—“What are the judges looking for?”

As a regular judge and convener of Country Fashion on the Field events, this is the most asked question.

The first thing to do is to check if the race club has a Fashion on the Field criteria listed on their website or Facebook pages. The Judges will be using this as a guide line.

You should know all the common-sense answers about climate appropriate, deportment and grooming, the list goes on. I would have to say the most importing thing is, that something that will make you ‘POP’. Like with all competitions, to some extent it comes down to the personal choice of the judges. Who knows exactly what they are looking for? Even when you believe you are the best, and don’t win, embrace the fun and excitement of planning an outfit and showing it off. When you feel great you look great. The only thing that matters is that you, your friends and family think you look great (I am sure they all say those judges have no idea.)

The number 1 rule

Be a lady – simplicity, elegance and decorum are the keys to getting it right.

My rule for classy is - the less is more look. To quote Coco Chanel, "always take off one thing before you leave the house".


  • Should be elegant and well cut that fall to the knee or below. Make sure the dress suits you and suits your figure. If you can wear it out after the races to a nightclub then chances are it is not suitable for the race course i.e. should not be a flimsy, short, sheer, or glittery party frock.
  • The less skin on show, the better.
  • Make sure your total outfit suits the season of the carnival. Obviously if it’s spring – your outfit will be brighter, more fresh and vibrant that what you would wear to the autumn race carnival. In autumn it is expected that your outfit is darker, warmer and usually layered.
  • Black & white is always classy, classic and fashionable, no matter what season it is.
  • A classic, ladylike, elegant style with a modern twist generally wins every time. Anything styled with a 1950’s or early 1960’s look is very on trend and popular with the judges. The modern injection can come from your headpiece, shoes and or bag. If you are doing a vintage look, ensure you add the modern twist to prevent looking to much like a fancy dress costume.
  • Pantsuits very rarely win Fashion on the Field. That is not to say they cannot be very stylish, but judges are generally conservative and traditional in their choices.
  • I can’t emphasise it enough – make sure your ensemble suits your body shape and showcases your best assets.


  • If you are going out to the races you must wear a headpiece of some kind. If you are entering the Fashions on the Field it is an essential requirement. There is an amazing choice of hats, fascinators and other headwear available now.
  • Spring racing Carnivals – your hat will be straw or sinamay based.
  • Autumn racing carnivals – your hat will be felt or leather based.
  • Your headpiece is the cream on the cake. Don’t skimp on the headpiece, a Target special or Spotlight home made one just will not cut it here. It doesn’t have to be a huge hat, it just needs to be tasteful, and it needs to co-ordinate with your shoes and bag and work back to your overall outfit.
  • It's a proportion thing. If you are short or petite, avoid large lampshade type hats as these will only dwarf you further. Consider a piece with large straight feathers or spikes pointing upwards to create a height illusion. If you are fuller figured, or have a large or round face, avoid small brimmed hats and small fascinators. Slim your face with broad or asymmetrical brims and a wide, square-shaped crown. Set the brim at an angle to add length to your face. The crown should not be narrower than your face unless it is balanced by the trim. Avoid hats with rounded crowns.
  • If you lack the confidence at wear a statement piece, get over it (you want to look your best and stand out from the crowd, don’t you?). BE THE SHOW PONY.


  • Carry a smaller handbag. For the fuller figured lady a large clutch looks fantastic (although takes a bit of practice to manage) but it is better as it's that proportion thing again. The bag should be smaller than a fashion day bag. A handle bag or shoulder strap bag is ideal as it makes managing to hold your race book and glass of champagne much easier.


  • Wear gorgeous shoes, they are an important part of your outfit. But, make sure you are able to walk in them properly. If they are brand new, practice wearing them at home with socks. When you take them off, note where the red marks are on your feet, that is the blister warning. TAKE APPROPRIATE FOOT CARE BANDAIDS IN YOUR HANDBAG!
  • Strappy stilettos are appropriate for spring and summer.
  • Pumps or closed toe shoes are appropriate for autumn and winter.


  • Accessories will be the key, try co-ordinate with your headwear your shoes and handbag. These are the three key accessories that the judges will scrutinize most, apart from your outfit of course.
  • When contemplating other accessories such as jewellery and gloves, make sure they complement the total look and do not make the outfit look too busy. Too much bling isn’t a good thing.

Hosiery (to wear or not to wear)?

The second most asked question

  • It’s not essential these days but I would recommend wearing hosiery if you are planning to compete in categories such as "Millinery Award" or "Classic Race Wear" in the Fashions on the Field - judges tends to go old school for these sections.
  • For autumn, hosiery is essential to make your outfit seasonally appropriate.
  • For spring/summer, a nice soft tan and a good layer of moisturizer can be just as flattering.
  • Never wear pantyhose or stockings with an open toe shoe, unless they are toeless stockings.
  • I have always said that if it comes down to a choice between two entrants, appropriate hosiery might just get you over the line.


  • Only if relevant to the outfit.
  • Leather gloves during the colder seasons.
  • Lace gloves look very sweet teemed with flowy frocks and floral prints.
  • I always suggest that the colour of the glove contrast to the bag, otherwise the hand will blend in and just look wrong if the colours aren’t the same (e.g. to different shades of navy).
  • Carry them if the weather isn’t appropriate for wearing.
  • Like the hosiery question– they could be that thing that gives you the edge (but I say again, only if relevant to the outfit).


  • Should be minimal with subtle eyeshadow and blush to match your skin tone/outfit, eyeliner and mascara to highlight your eyes and lipstick or gloss to match your outfit/skin tone. I am a big fan of red lipstick along with a black & white outfit, I find it adds to the classical look and always makes your teeth appear so white. Getting a friends opinion on what suits you is your best bet or even having a trial run a few nights before is a great idea so that you can try and test what looks best without stressing out and rushing to get ready on race day.
  • Fake tans – again keep it classy, elegant and not overdone. Dark fake tans and heavy makeup will make your look (dare I say it) cheap, don’t go there.

On Stage

  • Once you are on stage or lined up being judged make sure you stand tall with your shoulders back and head held high - great posture and confidence could be the factors that set you aside from your competitors giving you the winning edge.
  • Never take your drinks with you on stage if entering Fashions on the Field

Last and most importantly, SMILE and enjoy yourself!!! It’s meant to be fun!