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Meet, Melissa Barnes. who was sashed the 2020 Adelaide Cup Best Dressed Womenswear last Monday March 9. We spoke with Mel to hear about her winning outfit and love for racing fashion. 

Tell us about your winning outfit.

Dress: ASOS with my own alterations. I removed a sleeve and used the fabric to cover up a cut out area on the midriff.

Shoes: Missguided

Bag: Chloe

Clips: Chanel/Lovisa

Hat: My own creation

What process did you go through to plan and choose this ensemble?

I had a completely different outfit chosen but I kept coming back to this dress because I loved the floaty silhouette and the scarf on the back. Once I had the dress I decided to keep the rest of the styling very sleek and minimal. The subtle gold accents were tied together with the shoes, bag, hat and clips. The hat was a modern twist to offset the ‘retro’ style print of the dress.

Where did your love for racing fashion begin?

After I won best dressed at the Darwin Cup in 2012 I fell in love with the way you can dress for the races. It's unlike any other event and I love seeing how other people mix traditional ‘racewear’ with current fashion trends.

What was your first racing event and how has your style evolved since?

Darwin Cup was my first racing event. I attended a few there and my first outfits were a bit cringeworthy. One was a strapless dress with a lace parasol... eeek! I love seeing how fashion evolves at the races and enjoy watching everyone express their own personality through what they love wearing.

Who are your racewear style icons?

My favourite fashion icon is Blair Eadie, I always look to her for inspiration when planning my outfits.

What are your favourite labels for racewear?

I don’t have one in particular. I love wearing everything from ASOS to AJE... I think you just need to focus on your budget and the look you are going for. There is no one ‘brand fits all’ which is great because I love to see the variety of outfits worn.

Tell us about your makeup. What look did you choose and what key products did you use?

Usually I get my makeup done but I didn’t have a lot of time and my favourite MUA was booked out. I like to start with a clean face and primer. For the races I think a glowy base is important with some highlighter to keep it looking fresh. A good quality foundation that matches your skin tone is key! I love false lashes and defined eyes but I try to stick to gold and bronze tones to keep it suitable for the day time. My lipstick was a combination of 2 different MAC colours so that I could compliment the colours in my dress.

What products do you always take in your bag for a day at the races?

Bobby pins, lipstick, bandaids and if I remember eyelash glue.

How did you choose your hairstyle? What styling process did your locks go through?

I love looking on pinterest for inpsiration. I knew I wanted a minimal hairstyle so that my hat and clips could be the focus. Lucy from @lucy.makeupartist did my side bun and then I added the clips later once my hat was on.

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is all over the place because most of the time I am a stay at home Mum. The races is the one time I get to go all out and dress up. I love prints and anything that is eye catching. I also like to try out different styles and experiment with trends.

How do you spend your time when you’re not at racing events?

I am a school teacher and mostly do TRT. 99% of the time I am in jeans and a slouchy top at home with my twin boys and running around doing school or kindy drop offs/pick ups with my older boys. I also run my small business Adorn Collection which is a designer bag hire and millinery service.

What is your favourite race day to go to and why?

I love Adelaide Cup because it’s ‘our’ day and there is a fun atmosphere.

What is the biggest mistake women make when dressing for a racing carnival?

I think buying off the rack is risky if you are doing FOTF so it’s important to always put your own spin on things. The outfit will reflect your style and personality that way and you won’t end up bumping into someone who is wearing the same outfit as you.

Millinery for me is also really important. There is no where else that you can go and wear a piece of art on your head. These days it's really easy to source a second hand hat or hire something.

What is your style advice for first-time racegoers?

Check if there is a dress code for the day, like black and white for Derby Day, so that you don’t get caught out.

Less is more when it comes to makeup so avoid heavy contouring and dark eye shadow.

Wear millinery and if you can’t afford to buy then borrow or hire something.

Always check that your millinery is on properly and secure especially on windy days.

Dress to suit the weather and in winter have an umbrella, change of shoes (especially if you want to dance later) or coat packed just in case.


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