Spring horse racing is that time of year where women have an excuse to dress to excess, like they’re Beatrice and Eugenie heading to a royal wedding.
It’s also that time of year men can wear fancy pinstripe suits and bow ties, though not get ridiculed for looking like Don Draper of Mad Men.
For the first Tuesday in November the tone was no different at the Kembla Grange Racecourse with thousands of punters hitting the turf to enjoy local racing mixed with the main event – the Melbourne Cup – on the big screen.
Read more: See every Fashions on the Field entrant
The Twenty-seven ladies and seven gentleman put their best foot forward for Fashions on the Field.
Some familiar faces were spotted among the list of entrants. Runner up in the Best Dressed Male category was steelworker Grant Armstrong who managed to take out the top prize last year.
“I was just happy to go in the event; I wore some clothes from last year that I won but I love the top hat so didn’t change that style,” he said, joking he’ll retire from competition to let someone else win next year.
Overall winner for Best Dressed Male was Matt Ford who had entered his first Kembla competition, mainly thanks to his wife Erin who “loves all that stuff”.
Mrs Ford, who also took home the prize for Best Millinery, won the same award last year.
The regular racegoer has been dressing up for nearly a decade – including at meets in the Illawarra or Nowra – due to her family race-horse breeding family.
Mrs Ford’s winning rose-gold leather head-piece was created by renowned milliner Victoria Kennedy for label Terence Gregory – one of the last the creative would have made after closing her business in 2017.
“It’s devastating,” she said. “I’ve worn her for years and years.”
The Mercury understands there is only one other full-time milliner based in the Illawarra which is Pamela O’Brien of Corrimal’s Locopa Designs.
“It’s a dying art I think and it’s a hard industry,” Mrs Ford said. “We’re quite particular us race goers, we’re probably hard to work with.”
Both the winner and the runner-up for the Best Dressed Female (Erin Ketteringham and Andrea Perry) created their own headpieces for the event – a trend becoming more common with racegoers.
To see how people celebrated Melbourne Cup Day around the Illawarra click here.
To vote for the People’s Choice in Fashions on the Field – tell us your favourite here.