Fashion winner straight out of the gates – Saskia Arboit

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By the way in which she presents herself and the outfits she puts together, you’d think that Saskia Arboit was a race wear veteran. Surprisingly, her foray into Fashions on the Field Competitions didn’t really come about till the Townsville Cup in 2011 – which was coincidentally, her first ever race day.

Saskia didn’t really need much prompting to enter the competitions admitting, “I don’t need an excuse to dress up, but the races are such a fantastic opportunity to go all.” It turns out that this sentiment is what drove her into the hands of Townsville milliner, Tegan Crisafulli. Saskia had simply meant to find something fun to wear but when Tegan made a beaded felt hat that complimented the linen and lace dress and jacket from local designer, Trish Bellero, she knew that this wasn’t just another pretty outfit. “I fell in love instantly,” Saskia declares. “I remember exactly how I felt in my one-off design that day, and I knew from then on, Fashions on the Field would be a passion of mine.”

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Contemporary Racewear winner Roanne Johnson; Classic Racewear winner Melissa Prince; Best Hat winner Saskia Arboit and Best Dressed Man winner Julian Chapman | Photos: BRYAN LYNCH (Townsville Bulletin)

Since then, Saskia has entered four more competitions and been selected as a finalist in each one including Best Headwear (Townsville Cup 2011), Classic Women’s Wear (Townsville Amateurs 2011) and runner-up in the Contemporary category at Ingham race day (Townsville 2011).

Best Hat - Townsville Cup 2011

Best Hat – Townsville Cup 2011

While the outfits are the central component of the events, Saskia adds, “If you have ever competed in Fashions on the Field, you will know the energy that surrounds everyone entering. It’s a mixture of nerves, excitement and anticipation. If you’re the one lucky enough to be announced as the winner, it is exhilarating.” A bonus, of course is the great prizes to be won. Saskia has managed to win herself a vacation to Bali.

So what does it take to be successful when it comes to these competitions? “Confidence, poise and a smile! These three things will set you apart from a crowd of beautifully dressed women and have you noticed by the judges. Don’t forget to have fun. It’s all about meeting new people and enjoying the fashion,” says Saskia.

Saskia (middle) with hat by Tegan Crisafulli and dress by Trish Bellero

Saskia (middle) with hat by Tegan Crisafulli and dress by Trish Bellero

Needless to say, having good designers to turn to for fashion assistance is a necessity when it comes to competing. Saskia, of course, has a soft spot for Trish and Tegan and explains, “They are my go-to ladies here in Townsville. They have designed some spectacular one-off pieces for me over the years. I find my outfit and headwear go together seamlessly because the two work very closely together.” She notes too that Jill & Jack Millinery in Melbourne have caught her eye with their spectacular pieces that mix soft leather with vintage veiling. “What’s not to love?” she adds.

Saskia has learned a lot about the competitions since that first fateful day and is always willing to impart some advice to those interested in the scene. “Whether you’re an annual competitor, or you’re planning for your first Fashions on the Field, there is a lot to consider in the lead up to race day. The minor details are what can make or break a winning outfit,” she says. “Do your research in to current trends but don’t forget about classic race wear styles.” Of course, she adds, it’s vitally important to understand “track etiquette” and the specific requirements on the day. “Something as simple as not wearing gloves or bare shoulders at an autumn race day can be a disadvantage.”

And like every good competition will tell you, preparation is key. “Make sure every aspect of your outfit is ready well in advance. Don’t leave anything to chance,” she says and adds, “I have slipped my feet into a pair of shoes that arrived on race day. With my fingers crossed, they fit; it was dumb luck. Your day will be more pleasant and you will feel more confident if you’re not rushing. Plan to arrive with plenty of time before registration closes and be prepared for a registration fee at some events.”

Saskia looking chic in classic race wear

Saskia looking chic in classic race wear

Saskia notes too that while the outfit is the highlight, hair and makeup are also necessary to round out the look. So as to leave nothing to chance – and minimise stress – she turns to her hairdresser for that perfect up-style – at 6:00 am. “I believe hairstyling is yet another element of a winning ensemble. If in doubt, a classic chignon is never overlooked,” she notes. Keeping the style set and secure is also important so she also has her stylist fit the headwear and just to make sure, brings along extra pins – just in case.

For make-up, Saskia keeps it in the family and leaves that to her mother – a professional make-up artist. “We play with colour to compliment my outfits,” she explains. “Plus, I love to wear false lashes for the day, and a longwearing lipstick is a must!”

This autumn, Saskia has already planned her look based on fashion shows from overseas. Her suggestions for autumn look hover around the pencil skirt, the must-have for a streamlined silhouette. An emphasis is also being place on less traditional fabrics. She adds, “Baroque fabrics bring a luxe feel with opulent brocades, jacquards and boucle for winter.” But of course, keep it current with contemporary shapes using angular lines and sharp tailoring.

“Black and white is a classic, yet we are seeing more graphic prints and pretty petals with a tough edge on the catwalks,” she notes. “Don’t be afraid to mix prints, colours and textures.”

For spring/summer 2013 Saskia looks to Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Chanel for a little inspiration. Although these design houses are always good classics, for Fashions on the Field, race wear etiquette still applies. “You must wear headwear; shoulders should remain covered; gloves are to be worn; hem lengths should be no shorter than the knee; and stockings must be worn with enclosed heels.”

“When it comes to millinery, always remember that straw hats are for summer and felt is for winter. Flowers, feathers and colour are fabulous all year round,” she notes, then adds, “There is nothing worse than seeing a beautifully dressed lady leaving the track in bare feet, so skip the stilettos and opt for a thick heel. If your heels sink into the turf, you look like you’ve had one too many glasses of champers, even if you haven’t!”

Besides, after you’ve won, the champagne can come later.

Race Wear Australia 

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