When it comes to Fashions on the Field, it’s a jungle out there – and while animal prints remain strong this season, would-be fashionistas best leave last season’s off-the-shoulder look at home, lest risk a real cat fight.

In 2019 two of rural Australia’s most stylish, Sarah Kirkby and Toy Barwick, will be scouting the crowds for the highly coveted Fashion on the Field competition at next weekend’s Moree Picnic Races. And from behind their cat-eye sunglasses, there will be little this sharp-sighted duo will miss. “It’s all about the detail and dressing appropriately for the occasion,” advises Barwick. “Pick a certain style, start with one key piece and work around that.”

Animal prints, such as snake and leopard, are strong this season, with the pantsuit also making a return to the winner’s circle, when it comes to the current Western trend, fashion cowgirls will do well to heed Barwick’s wise advice – “subtlety is the key, it’s not a dress-up party.”

With hair clips, headbands and bows all replacing traditional fascinators and headwear this season, Kirkby said she was excited to see what looks would emerge on the weekend. “While this season’s headwear isn’t traditional, it’s reflective of fashion’s evolution – I’m looking forward to seeing some beautiful bows and clips – but they need to be obvious enough to be a feature.”

Barwick also expressed her penchant for a blazer dress – but warned that getting the perfect length was tricky. She strongly advises against a length at which it simply appears you forgot your pant. Mixed prints such as floral and animal was another of the girls’ favourites, and while Autumn colours always look beautiful, they wouldn’t shy away from Spring hues. Likewise, playing with different textures could also score you a spot on the podium, but the girls’ suggested leaving the beautiful silks of last season exactly there. “While there are some gorgeous silk pieces around, Autumn racing requires a heavier texture.”

With Fashions on the Field one of the highlights of The Moree Picnic Races, Kirkby enthused that there was always a beautiful cross section of designers on display, and that Moree race-goers were fashion forward and enthusiastically embracing of fashion trends. “There is definitely an element of decorum recommended for picnic racing fashions, with anything too tight, revealing, strapless or mid-drift baring to be avoided. Lengths should be not too short, with trousers and jumpsuits acceptable, as long as they are full length.”

Barwick advised that a millinery or hair feature was always required for the Fashions on the Field competition, but that a felt and leather hat was preferred over straw. “Keep in mind the races are a daytime event, so be wary of materials and shapes that are evening like, such as metallic, sequined or high shine textures.

And it’s not all about the fillies, with many a stallion heading in from the paddock for a groom come Saturday. “For men, we’re looking for accessories such as a hat, pocket handkerchief, beautiful watches, cufflinks or sunglasses.” Again, men should avoid straw hats, and the girls’ said the Trilby had also run its course. “Men can pull off some really handsomely shaped hats – there are some lovely Akubras and the like – just don’t wear them in from the paddocks please! Polished shoes and a matching belt also go a long way, and you just can’t go past a well-fitted suit or sports jacket – not too baggy, not too long and not too tight.”

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