Tips for fashion entrants: It’s all about balance, baby.

Carena West

One of our raceday ambassadors, Carena West, is back with her tips for succeeding when competing in the Hawaiian Airlines Fashion Qualifier and The Ned Prix de Fashion at this Saturday's Vodafone Derby Day.

Ladies and gentlemen... Are you thinking about entering The Ned Prix de Fashion competition here at Ellerslie this Saturday, 2 March?

Below is my comprehensive guide for ensuring your outfit stands out among the crowd.

Disclaimer: I am one of a group of seven judges on The Ned Prix de Fashion's panel, so while my opinion plays a part, it's also in a larger picture of judges who all most likely have different views on what their ideal winner looks like.

Fashion competitions are subjective and should be treated as something fun to do, not serious business! Enjoy yourself first and foremost, otherwise, what’s the point?

Keep in mind that although a Derby Day is traditionally black and white; colour is welcome on the day and there will be no discrimination against competitors who choose to wear colour. Even though this competition is technically in autumn, summer outfits are welcome too!

1. It’s all about creating balance It is a common occurrence to see competitors wearing an outfit that could be quite gorgeous, but it’s just too done.

Often, this can happen when you work on an outfit yourself without a helpful friend to cast their eye over it and tell you that maybe you didn’t need that extra trim, or your shoes are a competing with your dress.

A good way to create balance is to let one or two pieces do the talking. If you have an absolute head turner of a millinery piece, then maybe simplify the clothing choice.

Have a top and skirt (or pants) that feels like it needs a little something to really make it pop? Try a statement belt in an unexpected colour.

2. Don’t feel like you have to spend a crapload of money to make big impact There are so many well-priced labels out and about these days, that putting together a winning look does not have to break the bank.

Look to runways for ideas, and you can be sure to buy “runway-inspired” pieces in high street stores.

L-R: Keepsake the label, Liquorish at ASOS, Lost Ink at ASOS, Loeil

L-R: LN Fashion, Topshop, Topshop

3. Modernise! Never underestimate the power of accessories. They can take your outfit from meh to magnifico!

Do some research as to what jewellery and accessories shapes are in, and what is on the way out.

Organic jewellery shapes in pearl and gold, as well as door knocker earrings and statement hoops are all winners right now, as well as statement cocktail rings on index fingers.

If you want colour in your earrings to match your dress/outfit- maybe try coloured stones inlaid in metal or modern takes on acrylic.

Top Row: Silvia Furmanovic, Stvdio, Stvdio, Lovisa, Lovisa Bottom Row: Both Lovisa

Bags and clutches can be the deciding factor if you and another competitor are too close to call, and mini top handle bags (pictured), tasselled bags, textured envelopes and cleverly shaped mini shoulder numbers replace the box clutches and ever-popular Cult Gaia style ark bag of seasons past.

From Top Left: Boyy,  M2Malleteir (top handle), Edie Parker (tort handle), Colette by Collette Hayman (Red), Rosantica (Multi), Cult Gaia (Tassel), Carolina Santo Domingo. (B&W), Nannacay (Yellow)

If your outfit is a retro or art deco delight, maybe consider modernising with the use of clever accessories (unless, of course, you are competing in a vintage category!)