Raceday style advice from Aleisha Mitchell - The Ned Prix de Fashion 2020 judge & past winner

Aleisha Mitchell is a bit of a master when it comes to raceday fashion… and she has a few sashes to prove that her classically elegant style can catch the judges’ eyes.

Later this month Aleisha is joining the judging panel of The Ned Prix de Fashion where she, alongside her fellow judges, will have the mammoth task of selecting 2020's national racewear winner.

We chatted to Aleisha about planning an outfit, sourcing style inspiration and her love of high heels.

Aleisha's first-ever racewear fashion outfit
Aleisha's first-ever racewear fashion outfit

How long have you been entering raceday fashion competitions? The first race day fashion competition I entered was back in 2003 at the Tauranga Racing Club. I was 20 years old and made my outfit. Looking back, it makes me laugh to think I wore it. The outfit was orange-shot taffeta and nothing like anything a 20-year-old would wear to the races these days!

However, I was proud as punch of my outfit and placed in the top three on the day.

What have you won? I won the ‘Supreme Winner’ sash at Ellerslie's Boxing Day Races in 2007 which was the largest prize pool I have ever won.

It included the use of a new Mercedes for a year, a Pacific Island cruise, clothing vouchers, jewellery vouchers, a year’s supply of champagne… the list went on.

I was also placed in the top five finalists at Auckland Cup Week ® 2013 and won the Boxing Day fashions in the field competition again in 2017.

Below: Scroll to view some of Aleisha's winning looks over the years

More recently, I won The Ned Prix De Fashion [and became the country's national racewear winner] on Vodafone Derby Day at Ellerslie last year [2019].

As part of that prize, I got to go on and compete in Victoria Racing Club's MYER Fashions on the Field competition over the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival where I placed second runner-up on Oaks Day.

I have also won at other racecourses around New Zealand including Tauranga, Hamilton and Christchurch, and have been very fortunate to receive prizes including airfares to Singapore and Australia.

What is your process for putting an outfit together? Something will catch my eye that I feel would look amazing as a raceday outfit.

Whether it’s a top, a gorgeous piece of fabric or a silhouette that I can see translating well into an outfit.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

One of Aleisha's 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival outfits
One of Aleisha's 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival outfits

I used to get a lot of inspiration from fabric as I worked in the fashion industry for over 15 years before becoming a full-time mum.

Previously, I have sewn my whole outfit, which is time consuming but also very rewarding when you walk away with a sash.

These days I find myself seeking out all my inspiration online, due to the fact I create my outfits out of ready-to-wear pieces and alter them to achieve the look I want.

A lot of my favourite stores show the current trends and offer items I can easily purchase online.

I also find myself daydreaming on Instagram, the opulent way the high-end brands showcase their collections is inspiration at its finest!

How long does it take to plan your outfit? I will often start planning four to six weeks out from a competition.

Do you do your own hair and makeup? I always do my own makeup, but depending on my headwear I would possibly book in an appointment to have an ‘up do’ done that complemented the outfit.

If you decide to do this, always take one or two reference images showing the front and back of the hairstyle you would like.

It’s actually very difficult to find a hairdresser that has experience attaching or positioning headwear correctly.

On that note, always check with your milliner where the hat should be positioned.

Aleisha's reaction when hearing her name announced as the winner of The Ned Prix de Fashion 2019 - New Zealand's national racewear fashion final
Aleisha's reaction when hearing her name announced as the winner of The Ned Prix de Fashion 2019 - New Zealand's national racewear fashion final

Your headwear for The Ned Prix de Fashion 2019 was absolutely stunning. Can you tell us more about this piece? My headwear was a custom-made piece by the very talented Claire Hahn. She is Auckland based, but works with clients throughout New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

Claire will walk you through the process of deciding what finished ‘look’ you are wanting to achieve and what headwear style would best complement your outfit.

Custom-made pieces are surprisingly affordable compared to some store brought options, so reach out to a milliner for a beautiful bespoke piece or a ready-to-wear piece from their collection and support New Zealand-made!

How do you describe your personal style outside of raceday? As a mother of a three year old and a sixteen month old, these days my wardrobe is a lot more functional and practical than I’d like it to be!

Aleisha sharing a moment with one of her daughters following her Boxing Day Races Fashions in the Field win here at Ellerslie in 2017
Aleisha sharing a moment with one of her daughters following her Boxing Day Races Fashions in the Field win here at Ellerslie in 2017

Any chance I get to dress up you’ll find me wearing something on trend and in a pair of heels that are questionably too high for the occasion.

I’ve always said ‘fashion shouldn’t be comfortable‘, purely because I’ve suffered in its clutches more times than I can count.

I love nothing more than walking out of the house two inches taller simply because I feel fabulous in what I’m wearing… in these instances comfort often goes out the back door.


What next?

  • You've got to start somewhere! Check out our upcoming fashion competitions and see which ones you might like to enter

  • Join our Fashionably Racing Facebook group to keep in the know about our competitions, meet raceday fashion fanatics and learn more about racewear

  • Learn more about New Zealand's national racewear final, The Ned Prix de Fashion which is set to held here at Ellerslie on Saturday 29 February 2020

  • Check out Aleisha's new and very useful (!) business, My Designer Handbag AND make sure you're looking fab on racedays as she often sponsors our online 'People's Choice' best dressed competitions