Carla Rodan from Styling the Tribe became a friend via Instagram last year (and yes we’ve met in real life too) and she is not only lovely but she shares sweet photos of the little men in her life and the funky little outfits they wear. When you’re a mum of a boy it’s great be inspired with creative ways to inject some fun and style into little boys fashion. Thanks Carla for sharing with us what goes on behind the scenes in the Family Category of Stakes Day Fashions on the Field!
EMIRATES STAKES FOTF TOP 10 TIPS FOR THE FAMILY CATEGORY
We attended our first Emirates Stakes Day in 2013 and entered our family in the Fashion on the Field Family category. Our three boys, then aged 4, 3 and 15 months were dressed in their finest racewear and won the hearts of the judges to place us 2nd, Runners Up, on the day. Here are a few tips and tricks I learnt from our first FOTF experience that may be beneficial to your preparation.
1. Just Do It
If you’re considering entering your family in the 2014 Emirates Stakes Day FOTF, my advice is JUST DO IT! For me getting up on that stage in front of fashion royalty and being judged on our ensembles was completely out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad we did it. Its a great day out and an amazing opportunity to experience something completely unique that you may never ever work up the courage to do again!
As a stay at home mum to three young boys, I rarely get the chance to dress up, have my hair professionally styled and feel fabulous, so Stakes Day FOTF was my excuse to buy a new dress and get my glam on! If you still need convincing, the day itself has a wonderful carnival atmosphere and the VRC really put together a fantastic program for kids of all ages. Roaming entertainers, jumping castles, silent disco and a rock climbing wall are only a snapshot of the activities on offer. To register your family for the 2014 Stakes Day FOTF, head to www.melbournecup.com roughly 1 month prior to the race day (Nov 8th 2014).
2. Styling kids
Keep the racewear fun, fashionable and age appropriate. Ensure comfort is paramount particularly with younger children as they will spend up to 3 hours on their feet from the beginning of the heats to the time the final winner is announced. Don’t be afraid to show your own personal style, originality and creative flair.
3. Tailor Outfits
My pet hate is seeing clothing two sizes too big draped over children. Particularly when it comes to boys suiting, slacks or chino’s usually have generous length in the leg which if not shortened will gather at the ankle or worst still drag on the floor. Simply taking up the hem (costs roughly $10 at an on-the-spot alterations kiosk) can work wonders and give your little one a much more polished look.
4. Keep an eye on mother nature
Take note of the weather forecast leading up to your race day and plan your outfits accordingly. This may mean having a plan B outfit for the kids or an optional coat on standby. We had an extremely cold and windy spring day, so jackets were essential. I removed my jacket for the heats and froze whilst on stage and backstage (which is open to all the elements and not heated!). My boys wore undergarments under their shirts and blazers for extra warmth.
5. Pack a second pair of footwear
It was a muddy affair last year, so in order to keep the boys looking their best, they wore a pair of shoes to the event and changed into their ‘show time’ shoes just prior to their heat. I also packed a pair of flats for myself to wear after the FOTF formalities as chasing 3 boys in 11cm stiletto heels is not my idea of a good time!
Contestants are judged on not only their fashion, but also their overall presentation, so grooming is a must! Neat hair styles on children and a purse pack of wet ones and tissues are a must.
7. The Dress Rehearsal
Prepare your kids for the FOTF experience. The day before Stakes Day we had a mini run through at home with our young three boys. We talked them through what we were going to do on the stage and explained to them what they might expect to see (crowds). I know it sounds like a no brainer, but for a 3 and 4 year old, holding hands, walking slowly, pausing, turning around and walking back to the line up can be quite a task. The boys also tried on their race-wear outfits so that they were familiar with their outfits and could associate their race-wear with the behaviour required on the day. This worked extremely well with our boys and I’d highly recommend a mini run through when dealing with to younger children to prevent on stage meltdowns, confusion or stage fright!
8. Be prepared to wait
I must admit, I wasn’t. In 2013 the Family category recorded its biggest field since its introduction in 2011. Five families (of the 45+ families registered) are invited on stage at any one time for the initial heats, so you may be waiting for up to 30 minutes (in the elements) before taking to the stage. If your family is selected to progress through to the preliminary finals and then onto the final round, you will be asked to wait backstage for periods in excess of 15-20 minutes whilst all contestants are called through and judges deliberate. As you can imagine, waiting in the cold with 3 energetic boys under 4.5 years was a challenge. My savour was a packet of confectionary Willy Wonka Nerds I had packed in my clutch. After every heat I would give my older 2 boys a couple of nerds each, they were small enough to treat them often without the side effects of a sugar rush! The packet of nerds also doubled as a rattle for my 15 month old and kept him at bay and entertained between heats. So my advice would be to squeeze whatever form of distraction, entertainment and nutrition possible into your handbag! Once the heats have commenced you do not have access to your nappy bag or picnic hamper, so your clutch or pockets need to be utilised wisely!
9. Loosen up and have fun
When on stage the judges want to see you enjoying yourself and your family having a great time. Don’t be too worried if younger children play up, spin the wrong way or decide to talk over the MC (Maikeli did upstage Johnny Ruffo during his interview!). The judges, event organises and hosts expect children to be children and are not fazed by their spontaneous ways, so just go with the flow. Keep it fun and enjoy the experience.
Although there is an element of competition, I think those who walk away having enjoyed the experience are the real winners on the day. I must admit, I was very disheartened to see some of the children extremely disappointed when they did not proceed to the next round. We purposely never brought it to the kids attention that there was anything to win or that we were competing against others, they simply thought we were just showing the judges our cool clothes! I understand this may be difficult with older children who understand the process of heats and elimination, but remember our kids will mimic our approach and attitude, so keep it light hearted, enjoy the time with your family and make some amazing memories.
10. Bring your own fan club
Having familiar faces in the crowd may help settle your nerves and also provides a great distraction for young children. I had my dad (who my boys adore) come along and sit in the front row along the stage. When my boys walked out for the opening heat, they instantly spotted ‘Nonno’ and their faces lit up. They smiled, waved and called out a few cheeky lines in his direction. Nonno also doubled as our official photographer to make sure we walked away with some wonderful photo’s of our first FOTF experience.
Read the Meetoo review of the 2013 Emirates Stakes Day.