Fashion debut exciting
Former Matamata Chronicle editor Joel Maxwell describes his first foray on to the catwalk – entering last year’s Fashion in the Field in Matamata’s premier racing event the J Swap Contractors Breeders’ Stakes
THERE were, I’m sure, plenty of things wrong with my debut as a fashion model on the catwalk. Let’s start with my walk itself. I’d never been so aware of how I walk as when I climbed the steps up to the runway.
There must be guidelines on how to do this thing – rather than just striding like a fashion hick with a big grin.
Nevertheless, there I was, striding like a fashion hick, grinning like crazy to the crowd and the judges. Let me explain how this started. As editor of the Matamata Chronicle I thought it might be interesting to enter Fashion in the Field at our premier racing event, the Breeders’ Stakes.
I’d be joining in on a community event and not just writing about it.
To make the experience even more interesting, I set myself the challenge of creating my own ensemble to pit against the other competitors.
This was only a few weeks out from the big day so I didn’t have much time.
However as some part of me must have known, that didn’t really matter.
Even if I had a few years I’d still leave it till the last minute.
And so it was, after putting off fashion hunting for just a smidge under two weeks I finally started the day before the event. Luckily I had a plan. My ensemble would be a genuine attempt to look stylish and formal for a day at the races.
Since there was no way I could actually afford a new formal ensemble I’d harvest an outfit from one of Matamata’s excellent secondhand shops.
As time ticked by and I had to juggle visits to the shops between putting together the next week’s newspaper I started to feel nervous.
There were plenty of suits for sale – and very inexpensive they were too – but none of them were really suitable.
Some didn’t fit my frame; others didn’t fit this century.
(Yeah, it might have been cool to go retro with my outfit but I was trying to be serious, not gimmicky.)
Finally, at the Matamata Salvation Army store I found just what I was looking for.
There was a single breasted, wool suit that looked pretty good (although the pants were a tad short).
It wasn’t undertaker black, or polyesturised grey, it was dark, with tiny flecks of rich maroon lifting it to a near-brown.
By sheer luck there was a maroon shirt in the rack right beside it that made a perfect match. Next came the shoes. First I tried on some black boots, which if I’m honest might have been women’s boots.
But with time running out I was willing to try anything.
Fortunately the disguised cross- dressing experiment failed – they were way too small for my feet.
That was good because a friend I bumped into at one of the stores found the perfect pair of black leather shoes. They fitted my feet and weren’t styled for women.
With a quick shine they looked quite good for less than $5.
So I had my ensemble – unfortunately minus a tie because I just couldn’t find a match.
(The tie supply was not what I hoped; mostly narrow 80s things, or wide 70s things.)
Less than 24 hours later I was waiting in a long line of incredibly well-dressed women (and two other blokes) to take my turn on the catwalk.
The catwalk was wedged between a grandstand, with plenty of occupants and a swathe of racegoers cheering on the entrants.
It was hot; I was sweating in my wool jacket and feeling jittery about being publicly shamed for my relative lack of effort.
The walk itself was a blur – shambling from one end of the runway to the other, stopping and waving to the crowd (my hand popped up, dorkishly, before I could pull it back).
But it was exciting, that much I remember.
Not surprisingly I was cut from the competition after the first round.
Lessons learned from my fashion experience?
You can find cool, inexpensive clothes from second hand stores without much effort.
You can find excitement if you relax your sense of personal dignity, just a little.
All style: Former Matamata Chronicle editor Joel Maxwell struts his stuff on the runway at the 2010 J Swap Contractors Breeders’ Stakes.