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Celebrating the joy of fashion
FASHION NEWS

Celebrating the joy of fashion

If there was ever a time to experiment with fashion, creativity, and style, then this season at Flemington, and in particular the iconic Fashions on the Field competition, provides the perfect opportunity. If there’s a theme, it’s about breaking convention. No one is in the mood for rules, especially post-covid!

Kirstie Clements 8 June 2023

Spring racing gives everyone the opportunity to leave their athleisure clothing in the drawer and take a more glamorous and playful approach. If recent times have taught us anything, it's a new appreciation for happy festivities like spring carnival, and a much-missed chance to dress up and celebrate with friends.

Let's start with colour. Experiment with colour blocking, by choosing shades on the opposite spectrum of the colour wheel and clashing them together like blue and yellow or lilac and emerald. Wear one shade head to toe, choose mad clashing prints, florals, or stripes. Wear any colour combination that makes you happy.

As we all know, Derby Day is traditionally black and white, but let’s make that anything but boring. Use black and white as a base and then liven it up with touches of colour in a handbag, a shoe and of course, a hat. Would a zebra print turban look fab with a black sheath dress? Yes. As would a giant pale pink feathered hat and a lime green sandal. It’s time to blow some of the cobwebs off racewear conventions. It’s not all about stockings and coat dresses and questionable business suits with wrap-around Oakley sunglasses. Ladies, wear a smart tailored short suit to show off summer legs in high heels. Wear cowboy boots and a pretty prairie dress.

Gentlemen, release your inner dandy and wear a morning suit if you so feel. Opt for a waistcoat rather than a jacket if it’s hot. Or you may even like to try a linen skirt suit (thanks, Brad Pitt, for the inspiration!). Forget about any sense of stiff formality. Fashions on the Field is all about celebrating individuality, vying for best dressed and enjoying the spirit of competition both on the track and off.

It’s also a time for promoting design talent and awarding emerging creators in both fashion and millinery. Think about Flemington, and Fashions on the Field as the ultimate showcase, to explore new design ideas and move the needle on what the Carnival and fashion are all about.

Some things to think about …

  • Romantic, feminine long-length dresses, with wide-brimmed hats and summer sandals.
  • Sleek pantsuits with heels, and a statement cocktail hat.
  • Shorts and mini dresses, with platform heels and quirky hats or headbands.
  • Shorter-length trench coats, ankle boots and fabric hats.
  • Leopard, zebra and animal prints (used strategically).
  • Frothy silk chiffon blouses and tailored trousers.
  • Liquid metallics, lovely as a pleat skirt or dress.
  • Cut-out styles, a 60s influence, gorgeous with a Courréges style jockey’s cap.
  • Bright suiting in hot pink, blue or neon yellow.
  • A coolly elegant all-white pantsuit with a fedora.
  • A vintage slip with a fascinator and chain mail bag.

Previous entrants of Fashions on the Field have won wearing head-to-toe designer labels, or wonderful, singular looks that they created on the sewing machine at home. That’s the beauty of racewear, and the joy of individual expression. It’s also fun to reflect the racing theme, whether it's a riding jacket, a tall boot, or an equestrian-inspired print. It can be from Hermès, it can be from Spotlight. Put your personal spin on it. Equally, it’s a great time to trawl through Pinterest and take inspiration from racing looks of the past, including chic references from the 1930s and 40s, right back to the Victorian period when the Melbourne Cup was first run (1861).

Although it seems that everyone in Australia celebrates the Cup in one way or another, not everybody is fortunate enough to be able to travel to Flemington in person. Even if you are not planning to head to the track during the racing carnival, you can still enjoy the spirit of Fashions on the Field, by signing up for the competition online.

The strict sense of appropriateness that dominated racing, and indeed the members’ enclosure, has loosened up, allowing racegoers and fashion lovers to embrace their inner extroverts. It’s time to get inventive, hunt out a showstopping hat and don your racing finest. As history has taught us, any horse can win on the day. Even an outsider.