How to win in the fashion stakes at Derby Day, according to a races veteran

1 March 2018
By Fashion Quarterly

Race day fashion tips from someone in the know.

Races veteran Di Goldsworthy has been attending races at Ellerslie for almost 60 years. Now approaching 75, this ever-stylish lady chats to us about her involvement in organising Fashions in the Field in the early days, plus what it means to glam it up at the races, then vs now.

You were a key figure in launching Fashions in the Field – when judging this, did you find you were drawn more toward people who dressed classically, or people who opted for more modern looks?
As a judge I did not have preconceived ideas regarding classic or modern. I was always looking for (and impressed by) the overall total look and attention to detail. The same applied to designer fashion or current retail ranges or retro. It was the way in which it was put together and always about how it was presented.

What do you find tends to draw you to an outfit when choosing a winner for Fashion in the Field, or just generally speaking?
The standard in Fashions in the Field is always high. People put a lot of thought and effort into their outfits, but there will always be “stand outs”. Once the finalists have been selected it comes down to coordination and grooming – again attention to detail.

What is it that you enjoy most about race day?
The colour, excitement, atmosphere, socialising, champagne, fashion, betting and the chance of winning! I’m already counting down to Auckland Cup Week.

Could you describe your dream race day outfit?
Black and white, top-to-toe Chanel – preferably put together by Chanel’s stylist in Paris!

Goldsworthy at the 2015 Melbourne Cup in Ellerslie

Do you prefer how people dress for the races now, or when you first started attending?
I am definitely “old school” when it comes to race day dressing. I prefer the elegance and glamour of race wear as opposed to the cocktail/party wear that has crept in.

What stands out as the best races outfit you have ever worn or seen on someone else?
It is very hard to single out one outfit. There has been many memorable ones, especially in the 1980s. During that glamour era designers such as Patrick Steel and Kevin Berkahn would design and make complete outfits for their clients – the dress (or suit), the hat and then arrange for the shoes and bag to be dyed to match. Many of their clients were winners [of Fashions in the Field]. One outfit does come to mind – a vivid lime green pants suit with red accessories – it was stunning! But the judges marked it down because it was not deemed to be race wear. How times have changed!

What would you define as the “stereotypical” outfit that adheres to race day rules?
Stylish, complementary to the wearer’s age, figure and weather conditions on the day. Millinery is a must and is synonymous with race-wear.

What aspect of race day dressing you enjoy the most?
There are too few occasions today to dress up and race day presents that opportunity. Many [Fashions in the Field] contestants over the years have mentioned that coming to the races was the first time they had ever worn a hat.

What did you find the most difficult rule to adhere to when you first started attending the races?
Conditions of entry to the Fashions in the Field were the tricky part, rather than the rules of dressing themselves. As the prizes for Fashions in the Field became more valuable, “rules” or conditions needed to be added to the entry forms. For instance, the Supreme winner won a car – so the “rule” was the wearer of the winning outfit won the car, not the designer who created the look. Another addition was that the winner must have a NZ driver’s license.

What was one thing you wish you could have worn when you first started attending the races?
I started going to the races with my parents when I was a 4-year-old, so I guess I always wanted to look like the “big girls”.

Photos: Supplied


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