Birdsville Cup Fashion do’s and don’ts for the Melbourne Cup of the Outback

The trackside glamour usually reserved for metropolitan race meets will embellish outback Queensland when the Birdsville Races kick off this September 1 & 2, 2017.


Known to many as the ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback’, the iconic 135 year-old Races are staged against the spectacular backdrop of the red Simpson Desert, with the colour and couture of Fashions on the Field (FOTF) an annual highlight.


“Birdsville is the most remote town in Australia, with more than 7,000 visitors travelling thousands of kilometres to attend the Races each September. And with no beauty facilities like hairdressers or manicurists in town – and the lack of a high street with boutiques or fashion retailers –  planning ahead is important,” says Birdsville Races Fashions on the Field coordinator, Olivia O’Neill.


“Our FOTF judges look for unique outfits that either throw the current trends out the window or follow them with such precision and style that they blow them out of the water.


“Whatever race meet you’re attending, I would suggest checking the race club conditions of entry for any FOTF. For the Birdsville Races, stockings are not essential as the weather is lovely and warm this time of year.


“Given that our event takes place on the first weekend of September, I would also suggest incorporating spring colours,” added Olivia O’Neill.


With FOTF becoming an increasingly popular feature of the Birdsville Races, Olivia shares some of her fashion dos and don’ts:


Dos for the ladies


“Decide what the feature of your outfit is,” says Olivia. “Is it your headpiece or dress?


“If you’re planning on wearing a hat in spring, you should aim for a straw hat and one that’s very lightweight and summery.


“When it comes to shoes, be practical. The trend at the moment is the block heel, which has better support and might offer more comfort on sandy and uneven ground like racegoers will experience in Birdsville. 


“Open toe and strappy sandal styles are ideal for the warm weather in Birdsville and spring-styling. Just proceed with caution when wearing heals and think about where you will be spending your day at the races.


“The jury is out on whether you need to match your headpiece to your bag and shoes. After following the debate closely, my personal opinion is that your headpiece, shoes and bag should complement your finished look – however, they don’t have to match unless you feel the outfit needs it.


“Only follow a trend if it suits your style,” adds Olivia. “Otherwise, only adapt some of it by incorporating it into your style. Or opt for timeless elegance. Classic, ladylike styles with a modern twist are perennial winners.”


“Gloves are also popular and can help bring spring colour to an outfit,” says Olivia. “They are not, however, mandatory and will add to the warmth of an outfit in the hot temperatures of Birdsville. If you have had a week in Birdsville camping, gloves on your hands might be a welcome distraction from not having well-manicured fingernails.


“Grooming is an important part of any head to toe FOTF look,” Olivia notes. “Keep makeup and tan to a minimum. It is a race day - not a night event - so keep your eyes bright and the look fresh and natural. 


“Lipstick can also help to tie everything together, especially when coordinated with your nail colour. And remember, nails in Birdsville will either need to be done by a professional before you hit town – a hard wearing shellac is ideal – or they’ll need to be a DIY project.”


“Do protect your outfit,” adds Olivia. “As Birdsville is a dusty dirt track, I’d recommend sourcing protection covers for your heels.


“Also, do your research. Jump on the Birdsville Races Facebook page for some inspiration on winning looks from last year’s finalists.”


Don’ts for the ladies


“Don’t over accessorise, keep it simple,” says Olivia. “Do, however, play with the textures of accessories to personalise a look.


“Also, be careful not to overexpose; balance your outfit. If you choose a short dress, keep the top covered and vice versa.


“Colour is also very important, especially at this time of year,” adds Olivia. “Try to avoid head-to-toe black.


“For winter-colour ladies, coming into this year’s Spring Carnival in Australia, I recommend keeping accessories away from your face to brighten your outfit – for example, your handbag and shoes.


“Also consider a belt, whether it be fabric or metals.”


Tips for the gents


“Guys are also invited to join our FOTF, so we’re hoping they’ll also get on-board with coordinating a special look for the races,” says Olivia. “We have a men’s and couples division.”


“A good quality suit always looks great, and men should purchase a suit that best fits their body type rather than just following a trend,” adds Olivia. “A slim fit suit isn’t for everyone!”


“Accessorising is also important,” Olivia says. “Consider a hat, tie, shirt, leather shoes, cufflinks, gloves, pocket handkerchief, belt, sunglasses and a watch.

Prizes for this year’s FOTF at the Birdsville Races include a range of vouchers from supporters including naming rights sponsor Akubra as well as Birdsnest, Charlotte’s Nest (Charleville), Panda Pearls, Birdsville Bakery, Outback Jack Designs (Longreach), Meredith McMaster Millinery, Mad Hatters, Target, Coca Cola and The Tack Room (Longreach).


This year’s Birdsville Races FOTF boasts the biggest prize and sponsorship pool on record, with a combined value of nearly $10,000.


The Birdsville Races are proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland It’s Live! In Queensland major events calendar.

 What:                   Birdsville Races

Where:             Birdsville, Queensland

When:                  Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September 2017

How much:       Two day packages start from AU$62.75


More info:

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