With New Zealand's fashions in the field final - The Ned Prix de Fashion - taking place here at Ellerslie next Saturday 2 March, as part of Vodafone Derby Day, we had a chat to one of the seven judges whose job it is to determine who will walk away with that most coveted sash.
Australia's Carle Rutledge is no stranger to fashions on the field events, having won the MYER Fashions on the Field National Title at Victoria Racing Club's (VRC) Flemington Racecourse last November.
Making the trip across the ditch to act as the VRC's representative on the judging panel - VRC provide the winner an incredible prize valued at $5,000 which includes the opportunity to compete in the 2019 edition of MYER Fashions on the Field - Carle let us in on a little more about herself and what it is she loves most about race wear.
"I’ve always enjoyed the social aspect of horse racing and always loved shoes and hats.
"However, I really only started to show more interest in participating in fashions on the field completely in the last four or so years when I also started to play around with millinery.
"I started to get to know others who shared the same interested of fashion, hats and loved to dress up, and enjoy some fun with a bunch of people who love doing the same and expressing their creativity.
"It’s that energy that gave me the bug and I took the occasional hat making workshop in my spare time – I try to do at least one workshop over a weekend every year to learn a new skill to make something new for myself for the season.
"I currently reside in Melbourne for my job in construction with a national infrastructure company. My day job is not very glamorous – being on site is dusty and no frills, but that’s what I love about it. It keeps me balanced and challenges me in so many ways....
"I’m a tom boy at heart really – growing up on a sheep and cattle station near Quilpie in remote outback Queensland and riding motor bikes and horses [etc] meant my mum could never get me in a nice dress! It was always boots, t-shirt/ pants or no shoes. That’s certainly changed.
"I love the contrast of my hobby in racing fashion to my everyday job – in a funny way they tend to influence and balance the other.
"Racing fashion provides that creative outlet where you dress up elegantly, wear hats and/or gloves and put your personal flair to it?
"And you meet so many amazing people at the same time who are all very supportive and encouraging – we have a laugh and a glass of bubbles – what better way to spend a day."
When we asked Carle what she's looking forward to most about her visit to Ellerslie, she said:
"I've never been to New Zealand before, can you believe? So I am just excited to get a taste for it, experience the races and fashion New Zealand-style, and meet some of the local fashionistas!"
And for Carle, she suggests that in order to get the winning look you need to...
"Wear something you love that reflects personal flair while being on trend with colours and style, and, of course, is racewear appropriate.
"I am always more comfortable wearing something weather-appropriate too!
"Having the right millinery and accessories to tie it all together and provide the edge on your outift and personal style is important too."
The Ned Prix de Fashion is taking place here at Ellerslie next Saturday 2 March as part of Vodafone Derby Day.
With a winner-takes-all prize package valued at more than $20,000 and FREE competition entry (terms & conditions apply), there's no reason why you shouldn't give it a go!
What's more, four women who enter on the day and qualify for the competition's regional final, as part of the Hawaiian Airlines Fashion Qualifier rounds, will each win 100,000 Hawaiian Airlines air miles.
And for the men? The Hawaiian Menswear Award will see the best dressed male fly away with 100,000 Hawaiian Airlines air miles plus Antler luggage AND three nights' accommodation at an Outrigger Resort property in Waikiki.
Photo credits: Karon Photography; Victoria Racing Club