Dear Judges and Masters of Ceremonies,
Congratulations on being tasked with judging or MC’ing a Fashions on the Field (FOTF) event. FOTF is a cherished sport and hobby for thousands of women and men across Australia and the world and a wonderful addition to any racing focused event. FOTF is a highly lucrative sport with a multi million dollar industry of milliners, designers, boutiques and fashion stores dependant on it. These guidelines were developed to help you make a informed judging decisions that will see your choices respected amongst the community of entrants, associated industry and will see patrons return to your event time and time again.
L-R : Fellow FOTF Judge & Fashion Designer Kate Watts, Media Personality Jo-Beth Taylor, Entrant Meisha Warren and FOTF Judge & Blogger Bethany Brajkovich – Crown Perth Melbourne Cup 2020
Who can enter
FOTF is a inclusive sport for everyone. FOTF is about interpretation of racewear, personality, stage presence, grooming and deportment. Entrants need to carry themselves with confidence and grace. FOTF, however, is not a beauty contest even though many beautiful women and handsome men do enter. While there are always those who join our sport for a laugh, and we encourage everyone to participate and give it a shot, please respect our community by awarding sashes to those who abide by the following points outlining what constitutes as racewear. This outline is followed closely by FOTF competitions locally, nationally and internationally.
What is racewear?
Racewear is a specific fashion niche: These points must be adhered to:
- Dress, outfit, blouse or skirt must be modest. Mini to maxi lengths are acceptable.
- No excess skin to be shown – this includes the lining of the dress, skirt, top, pants or blouse. Plunging necklines must be tasteful. Off the shoulder outfits are to be judged on the weather/event.
- What is trending on the high-street might not be the same as racewear styles for FOTF. Please be on-top of racewear trends by browsing fashions on the field dedicated social media such as @best_dressed_access @ItsAllAbouttheSash @MilanoImai which are run by FOTF judges and winners continually for many years.
- Quality millinery is a must. Millinery must complement the entire look and be made of the appropriate materials for the season. Professional milliners train for years in their craft and command respect and admiration of FOTF entrants and designers alike (further information on millinery is offered in the proceeding section).
- Accessories and attention to all detail is hugely important. From millinery to heel shape and the details on the clutch, every aspect must be accounted for.
- Style and originality must be rewarded. Style and originality is unique to the individual. If you are judging FOTF you should be knowledgeable in FOTF and know if a outfit is styled and original to the individual wearing it. Style and originality does not mean home made (though it can) it is about how entrants create a cohesive outfit unique to them and them alone.
- It is important that judges and MC’s also show their awareness of these points by also abiding by them. Your dress sense, grooming and deportment set the tone of the event and entrants will look to you for reassurance that the event is of high quality and standard rather than a local favourites or the most attractive person being sashed the winner.
Classic racewear includes full skirts, suits and blouses and hollywood glamour styles. Accessories are classic in shape and style also. Please see my image above wearing classic racewear.
Modern/Contemporary racewear follows the silhouettes of current trends in 2021. Modern racewear accessories also need to be included. In 2021 trends include 1970s, 1960s inspiration, pastels, neons and everything in between. Embriodery, cut outs, midi or mini, sculptural ascpects from millinery to shoes, quality over fast fashion.
Costume racewear which is a dramatic interpretation of racewear (not dressing up in a awful neon suit).
Brittany Tamou (centre) is in costume racewear perfection
Dressing for the Season
Please ensure participants are given ample notice on whether they are to dress for the weather, the season or a combination of both. Participants will work with milliners and dress makers for weeks if not months in advance to ensure they have the best shot to win FOTF and need notice to put their outfits together.
There are strict guidelines as to what should be worn in what season. Generally in SS we wear light fabrics which such as silks, cotton, lace and in AW we wear heavier fabrics like wool, heavy lace, and velvet.
Shoe choices are also influenced by the season. While closed toe can be acceptable all year round, open toe shoes are strictly for spring and summer
Millinery is the term used to describe womens headwear. Styles include hats such at boaters, broad brim, fedoras, bretons; caps, beret’s, face huggers, bows, padded and blocked headbands, donuts, fascinators, half hats, dior brims, pill box, sailor hats, turbans, top hats.
Millinery is also categorised by season and split into three groups;
AUTUMN/WINTER – Felt, fur and heavy fabrics are suitable for cooler weather.
SUMMER/SPRING – Straw, sinamay and light fabrics are suitable for warmer weather.
TRANS-SEASONAL – Leather, lace and some fabrics such as raw silk can be worn in any climate.
*Courtesy of Racewear Carousel
About your competitors
FOTF is hugely popular and thanks to social media it’s popularity continues to rise. Instagram accounts such as @best_dressed_access, @Itsallaboutthesash and @MilanoImai have a huge following both in Australia and internationally. FOTF is not just a side event at the races, it is the only reason many entrants attend the races and with them, they influx huge revenue into the track by purchasing tickets to marquees, drinks, bringing their friends along too. Affiliated businesses also profit and the track itself also benefit through free promotions on entrants social media accounts. Entrants spend months planning their outfits from choosing fabrics, designing their outfits either alone or by employing fashion designers and milliners.
Large groups of competitors will come to the track to socialise in this lucrative sport
A MC’S ROLE
FOTF outfits tell a story. They reflect each competitors unique style and taste. I cannot stress how important a MC’s role is when commenting on a entrants outfits while they are on and off the catwalk. MC’s should have vast knowledge of current, recent and historical race wear including millinery so they can articulate the entrants style competently for the crowd and judges. At no stage should a MC voice their personal opinions on who they think should win the event. The entrant has not only invested time and money into their outfit but it takes courage to get up on a catwalk infront of the public. Additionally, entrants are most likely also wearing a local milliners design or a local fashion designer both trades rely on these moments for the promotion of their business. Please be respectful of these points while commenting on entrants outfits as your comments may influence the judges decision.
Thank you for reading these guidelines. Your contribution to our sport makes the difference between entrants returning to your track and event year after year. The FOTF community appreciate you taking this as seriously as we do.
Bethany Brajkovich 2020 Finalist Outfit.
First Publish 18 APRIL 2018
Updated 18 January 2021