Elizabeth Charleston, an international model currently based in South Africa who has a passion for horses, racing and fashion. A household name within Fashions in the Field circles and no stranger to the catwalk, Elizabeth is also Racing Tauranga’s 2017 Fashions in the Field Supreme Winner.

We asked Elizabeth for her take on the world of raceday fashion competitions and were pleasantly surprised with her piece. Definitely worth the read and it is sure to conjure up a giggle or two!


Which Race Day Fashionista Type Are You?

Words and opinions by Elizabeth Charleston

The exciting thing about the racing industry is that it’s so inclusive and everyone is welcome. There are many ways you can enjoy your day at the track with the various hospitality areas on offer and it can be lots of fun with the many different personality types heading to the races at meetings all across the country. Some people will be seated in the Members Stand to watch their horse race while some will be in the public bar clutching a Best Bets book hoping to have a win on a horse that has been tipped to them that’s a dead cert in Race 7. There are those that will be having a social day out at a corporate function in a big white marquee by the winning post and we will also get a glimpse of the ladies and gentlemen that are dressed to the nines ready to contest the Fashions in the Field prizes up for grabs. The world is full of different personality types and the colourful group of Fashions in the Field competitors is no exception. Some people would like to think it is hand bags at dawn and that it is a cut-throat atmosphere between the various fashionistas, but the reality is that these competitions are normally supported by people that love fashion and enjoy a social day out at the races. Let’s have a quick glance at some of the personality types you can expect to find hovering around the fashion village area at your local race course:


The Passionate Fashionista has been working on their outfit for the past three months and have built it from the ground up with a very careful selection process in place. The Passionate Fashionista will have spent hours scrolling through endless pages online looking for the perfect dress. Sometimes the perfect dress is actually something that will get cut up and altered but the potential is there and there will be a session with their preferred dressmaker. The Passionate Fashionista will have enlisted the help of a high-end milliner that will bring the outfit to life by creating a bespoke headpiece. This person is organized and waiting for online registration to open up for the Fashions in the Field competition. You will bump into The Passionate Fashionista at the fashion village bar having their first glass of champagne at 11:30am to take the edge off any competition nerves. They are quietly hopeful that today’s sash will match their outfit should they win and would desperately love for the photographer from the local newspaper to take their photograph.


The Crafty One is a force to be reckoned with. They know every available item at Spotlight or their local craft store that could be turned into part of a show stopping outfit. They’ve painted their clutch handbag and shoes so they match and that spray of flowers in her headpiece was previously on display at The Warehouse in Morrinsville. This woman has a glue gun and she’s not afraid to use it my friends. The Crafty One may have run out of time to do online registration as she’s been busy making her outfit so will make a mad dash to the Fashions in the Field desk to fill in their form 5 minutes before the cut off time whilst they worry the paint on their shoe hasn’t quite dried properly as they hurry across the damp grass. This person will be either bursting with pride that they’ve made their outfit and accessories with a lot of blood, sweat, tears and hot glue, or they will be riddled with self-doubt. Buy this person a strong cup of coffee and tell them they look great.


The Newbie is fresh faced and perhaps a bit nervous looking as they attempt their first Fashions in the Field competition. The outfit might be a little bit under or over accessorized as they are still finding their way and learning about race day fashion. The Newbie is encouraged to go have a glass of bubbles and calm down, so they get to enjoy their 45 seconds on the catwalk. Never ever under estimate The Newbie – many a first timer has taken out the main prize and the Passionate Fashionista is aware of this so they will be scanning for newcomers who may have nailed the next big look of the season with a fresh approach. Be nice to The Newbie. We need fresh blood at the races and by encouraging The Newbie we are doing our bit to make sure Fashions in the Field is well supported and that the racing committees see that there are benefits to holding these competitions. We need foot traffic at the races these days to get the numbers up, even better if the foot traffic is wearing pretty shoes in my opinion.


The Lazy Fashionista is passionate about race wear and Fashions in the Field but can’t quite get motivated enough or organized to think ahead several months in advance. A couple of weeks before race day they will try to swing into action trying to build an outfit only to get frustrated and disillusioned that they can’t find a suitable dress at the local mall and realize it is too late to order something online. They will either throw something together two days before the competition or they will go diving into the back of their wardrobe and pull out a show stopping outfit that won Best Dressed Lady two years ago at Dargaville Races hoping the judges didn’t see any photos of it on social media and realize it’s been recycled. Be aware though that The Lazy Fashionista knows how to prowl up and down the catwalk, work their frock and pull off a win. She possibly owns a share in a race horse as well so she will be whizzing between the catwalk and the birdcage on race day. This is not her first rodeo.


The Side Kick is there to support their fashion loving friend who has been working on their outfit for the past month. The Side Kick will have been helping their best friend who is entering Fashions in the Field and then as a bit of fun decided to enter on the day too as they feel emotionally invested in the competition. The Side Kick will have inadvertently picked up a few tips along the way from their mad keen fashionista friend and potentially be a threat on stage. Keep an eye for The Side Kick when the finalists are announced as their cheerful, yet nervous disposition can be very endearing to the judges.


Bless her heart, Miss Congeniality is just happy to be at the races and around people for a day away from her normal life. She has taken the time to put a colour through her hair to get rid of the grey, she’s painted her nails and bought a new lipstick to go with her outfit. Miss Congeniality is quick to help the competitors around her lining up back stage behind the catwalk and gets a lot of pleasure from seeing her fashionable friends succeed. Likewise, when Miss Congeniality takes out the sash for Best Dressed Lady there is a big round of applause because the other competitors are genuinely happy for her. She will head home from the races with her goody bag of prizes and hang her sash over the kitchen door where it will stay for the next three weeks so she can reminisce about her exciting day of racing as she cooks her family dinner each evening. We love Miss Congeniality and we like to see her do well. You go girl.


Yes, by all means have a glass of champagne to squash the nerves or throw back a shot of Rescue Remedy, but please do not get on that catwalk after a whole bottle of cheap champagne that has been chugged back to get your courage up to compete in a Fashions in the Field competition. The Drunk Chick will be wearing a strapless top, a skirt that is too short and a cluster of feathers she plucked out of a duster that she shoved on her head claiming it looks just like a classy fascinator that you see in the fancy shops. Please do not be The Drunk Chick. So Carol, step away from the champagne, put down the feather duster and do not make it your mission to end up in the UK Daily Mail for inappropriate behaviour at the races. Please.


When it comes to the various personality types for the Best Dressed Man there are only two types. Those who wear socks, and those who do not. OK calm down guys, yes there is more to it than that but let’s be honest, when it comes to the sock comment as a personality type I know you were nodding and smiling when you read that line.