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

Matamata Chronicle - - 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.

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