A Day at the Races

I got to be a lay-dee yesterday.  Tra-la!

This is my oldest brother, Shaun. He took me with him to a corporate function at the races. It was lavish and lovely. The people were so nice and I chatted away until my voice was completely gone.  So today I am ordering lemon and ginger tea via sign language!

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We were hosted by Swire Shipping, with whom my brother does a lot of work. He ships modular hotels around the place on their ships. Swire Shipping is over 200 years old, and have had an enormous impact on the development of Australasia and the Pacific. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with people about my childhood home of Papua New Guinea. Swire and their affiliate businesses are heavily involved in that region, and many of them know my hometown, Lae, because they have lived there too.

The Grand Hyatt in Melbourne was our base.  I loved the marble bathroom, what a beautiful stone to walk on! So soft and satiny. I felt like Queen Rach just going to the bathroom!  The day started very early for me, with rollers in the hair, scarf on top and down to their award winning buffet breakfast. I felt a little conspicuous in my rollers and scarf, but nobody batted an eyelid.  The service and food at the Grand Hyatt were incomparable. I thought the breakfast smoothie bar was super cute!

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Back in the bathroom I tackled the face thing. I was worried that my makeup wouldn’t last the distance of a whole day at the races, in the 25 degree heat. Melbourne really put on a cracker day for it! But I needn’t have been concerned. Our venue had a ‘pamper room’ where we could go for perfume spritzing, hair and makeup touch-ups. It was so lah-dee-dah!  The area where our function room was located was lined with the most incredible gardens. It was a riot of overblown blooms and colour, colour, colour. Beautiful women sashaying around everywhere in the most incredible fascinators and dresses.  Just breathtaking, really. What an event the Victorian Derby is!  Like nothing I have ever experienced.

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My beautiful jacket and dress (by Chocolat) made me feel elegant without sacrificing comfort. It was the perfect thing, so breezy and pretty!

I’ve never been to the races before, so I had to learn about betting and sweeps. Our venue had a great view across the track and we had a bookie in the area with us for last minute bets. My brother, who has good instincts, did well with his betting, finishing far better off than his outlay. I bet the princely sum of $10 each way on Highlad. He came in last, of course. But I didn’t feel at all unlucky, waiters and waitresses swished around with trays of finger food and replenished my PIMMS whenever I needed them to. Then it was sweepstake time and one of my horses came in!  That won me a ticket for the major sweepstake, and I won a very cool prize!  One of those action camera thingies that you attach to your head and video stuff. It even works under water!  I was so chuffed! And slightly tiddly by then… so you know, effusive in my joy!

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The horses were so magnificent. I can finally see why horse racing is the thing it is all over the world. It is a celebration of the extreme beauty and power of these extraordinary animals. I can see how they have come to represent so much in powerful circles. It’s not just the money they make for their owners and trainers, it is who they are. They are elite athletes and the sight of them, in person, thundering down that track is exhilarating! It was nothing like the TAB TV’s blaring out of dingy shops on the street, it was classy, compelling action.

My little pair of flats in my handbag were complete genius.  I walked back in comfort to our coach, feeling terribly sorry for all the ladies inching their way painfully along the track in their stilettos. It was a brilliant day and I loved it so much. Thanks so much bro, for flying me over to be your plus-one. Thanks Swire Shipping, for a beautiful couple of days in the big smoke. It was great to meet you all!

Event in Australia? 10 Packing Hacks

I love noise cancelling headphones!

I am flying Virgin Australia over to Melbourne and my hubster lent me his pair. They actually do completely, remove all the noise! No engine noise/ air conditioner/ people. I’m plugged into the inflight sound system, so I can still hear announcements, but most of the time I am listening to Gordi. Have you heard this beautiful song? I usually dread the feeling of being stuck in a tin can hurtling through the sky with hundreds of strangers. But today I am cocooned in my own little audio bubble. It’s beautiful.

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now someone just needs to invent smell-cancelling nose plugs!

My brother rang last week to see if I might be interested in going to the races with him. It’s a two day corporate thing and his lovely wife couldn’t attend with him. Lucky me, I’m going in her place!

I get to attend the races for the first time ever!  Derby Day is an important part of the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne and the theme is Black and White. I am all set; my hatbox stashed in the overhead locker.  Sacred Elixir and Highlad, GO you good things!

I’ll be away for four days, just a wee trip across the ditch.
We kiwis travel across to Australia a lot, and many of us have family there. At some stage, you may find yourself heading off for an event too.  Weddings, funerals, parties, conferences, concerts.
Here are my packing tips for a weekend event across the ditch:

1. Curate your outfits so that you are not taking unnecessary items. A lot of people don’t like to decide ahead of time what they are going to wear, but for any international trip (and with luggage allowances what they are)  it really matters that you don’t overpack. Pare down to one outfit per activity and one extra for flexibility.  Choose a jacket that can do double duty with more than one outfit.

2. Plan your wardrobe. I often draw a little sketch of each days outfits because my brain works better that way. This time though, I took photos because I wanted them for this post… then it was easy to stitch them together into one image on my phone.  I reckon not having to think about what to wear is a holiday in itself… almost as good as not having to think about what to cook for dinner!

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3. Coordinate your packlist. It helps me when everything is matchy-matchy. Less variety, sure, but it means that I can change things up easily with less items and limits the number of shoes I need.  This weekend, I’m following the Derby Day theme and packing mostly black-and-white with a few splashes of green..

4. Predict the inevitable. If you have one, use a wheely cabin bag. Mine was just about empty on the way over, in fact, I carried my handbag in it. The cabin bag gives you extra space beyond your suitcase, just in case you (oops!) slip into the shops accidentally and need to bring things home. It would be rude not to…

5. Hydrate on the plane. For some reason, airplane air systems desire to suck all the moisture from my hair and face. I usually arrive looking more like a sultana than myself.  I first found 1 Above flight water on my way over to Sydney for a shoot last year. It’s incredible stuff. I buy the tablets rather than the bottles so I have enough for the return trip.  One turns 500ml of water into the smartest hydration juice for travellers. One tablet’s worth should be consumed over 2.5 hours, so I needed two for my flight.  They come in packs of 4 or 10. Incidentally, it also makes for outstanding hangover juice.  Just in case your event includes merrymaking!

6. Unpack as soon as you arrive. Hang everything in the wardrobe, arrange your toiletries where they need to be. Plug in your chargers.  Pop your PJs on the pillow. There. It’s much easier to relax when everything has its place.

7. Take a mesh laundry bag. I pop all my worn things in there as they come off which keeps the hotel room tidy and makes unpacking once I am home super easy.  Straight to my little laundry back home!

8. Be smart. Make sure you have comfortable shoes as well as those killer heels for the event. I’ve packed a wee pair of $7 canvas flats from the Warehouse, they’ll be in my handbag for race day so I can switch into them for the journey back from the track. Nothing worse than reaching that point (you know the one) where you cannot bear one more second in heels.  I intend to avoid that ol’ barefoot stumble back into the hotel.

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9. DIYH. Finding a hairdresser for race day is nigh on impossible. So I’ve packed my trusty hot rollers and some bobby pins and I am going to DIY my own hair.  Hot rollers are so much easier than curling with an iron; once they’re in, I do my makeup and once that’s done, so is my hair. Love them. I use Vidal Sassoon hot rollers from Farmers.  This is what they do…

 

10. Be prepared. Just in case, pack some panadol.  If you’ve had a little more champagne than you would in your regular life, a couple of panadol and a big glass of water before bed will pay dividends next morning!  And if you are sharing accommodation with family like I am… those noise cancelling headphones may just save your sanity. Tee hee!

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This weekend, I am wearing:
The Chocolat Otto Jacket (gifted)
The Chocolat Printed Drape Tunic
The Chocolat Sydney Crop Top layer in milk
The Chocolat Defender Jacket
The Chocolat Anthem Singlet Dress in paint print
CM stretch satin skinnies (available from TCD)
TCD green boxy crop (four years old)
Taking Shape ponti pencil skirts (from last season, I bought these at the airport clearance store)
Millers comfort shorts (size up in this style).

Dressing Dolly :: Obi and Chocolat

 

I am about seven years old, standing in a suburban Christchurch store gazing at a selection of Sindy doll clothes. All of the narrow boxes contain a few items of clothing, stitched into a flatlay behind the cellophane.  I’m deeply impressed, ’cause you can mix and match different things together and everything goes with everything else!  I can’t wait to try every possible combination!

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This inspired moment must surely be the origins of my love for fashion and all things coordinated! I’m a girl who likes to get up and know that she has at least five outfit options to choose from, all of which have matchy-matchy potential.  I think this is why I love wearing black, or mixing it up with variations of colour or print. It truly does make dressing so much easier. It makes me calm.  When my first baby was born, I used to lay out the whole weeks worth of tiny little pink outfits in readiness. Ah Sindy. You were onto it.  Mix and match is a phenomenon designed for girls like me.

 

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Yesterday I had one of those very cool “is this my life?” moments.  I was at a bloggers event run by High Society, one of New Zealand’s biggest NZ made fashion houses.

The room we were ushered into had been decorated by the very clever Xanthe, with spools of thread and ribbons, the table runner hand-drawn as an oversized measuring tape. Along the table were little beribboned boxes, one for me (!) and one for each of the bloggers sitting beside me.  We were there to meet the designers of High Society’s fashion labels, Chocolat and Obi.  I could see the new summer ranges hanging on the wall beyond them.

 

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Kylie Niovara-Dave and Jon Dyball took us on a tour of their design studios, their cutting rooms and machining floor. I met Dolly, the clothes horse with the extra added boobage, who helps Kylie and John with their plus sized pieces. She made me think of my Sindy dolls all those years ago! I could imagine how dressing dolls could evolve into dressing people. Of course, both designers use real-life fit models also and are passionate about creating clothes that truly work for their customers.

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John spoke first, with great enthusiasm, about his creative process and the influences on his summer collection. You can expect from his label Obi, an attention to luxe prints, luscious fabrics and pieces that will work for their pricetag. I loved his passion for all things Japanese, the variations in texture and interesting juxtapositions. John has a gift for finding beautiful lines, colours and textures and weaving them together into a soulful, interesting collection.  I loved all of the pieces he showcased, here is a small selection, just look!

 

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Avise, Vigeur, Joliesse. We bloggers sat transfixed as he talked us through the ins and outs of each piece and how he makes sure his customers are catered for. I was particularly delighted that he understood the issues we (ahem) over forty ladies have with hot flushes!  Many of his items are sleeveless but with coordinating throw over options for coverage. There is a focus on the comfort + style equation, with flat fronted side elasticated waist bands. As he said “we’re over being fashion victims”. Yes, John, we are! I’m all for fashion that I can feel at ease in.  In trademark Rachie style, I did gush a bit (sorry fellow bloggers, I’m working on cooling that down!)  It’s just so hard to shut myself up when I am excited about something!  See? All these exclamation marks… oh my life.

 

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Nicky, Monique, Taylor and Becca; fashion bloggers.

Then it was Kylie’s turn.  Kylie is just how you imagine a clothing designer to be, she is wearing layers of edgy black mesh and her hair is a razor cut work of art. When she begins to talk about her collection, I am impressed with the confidence she has in knowing what her customers want; she listens closely to the feedback that comes directly from their retailers. She is loving the sense of ownership that is developing in this, her second year with the brand. Chocolat caters more exclusively to the Plus Size body and it shows in her cleverly constructed garments. I listen to her intently.  She is a creative powerhouse who thinks deeply about detail, drape, line and print and colour. Her collection speaks my language.  There is (happy sigh) lots of black, with a painterly print I just can’t get enough of, and a marimekko-ish finer print in the more structured corporate styles. Her colours are ‘lickable’ brights, orange tang, slushy blue, k-bar green (those are my names for them, because they speak to my eighties inner child)!  My eye is drawn to a super cute black and white spot jacket. It is adorable and I think it will do happy things for my waist. Kylie took me down to the factory floor to try some of her pieces. It was, dear reader, a little bit of fashion heaven!

 

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When I have been browsing stores before, I can find it hard to get a good grasp on a whole collection. Lookbooks help, so I do sometimes scroll through those online before shopping, just to get the gist. But yesterday, seeing whole collections displayed on the rails really captured me. I could see Kylie’s collection as an entire work of art, how each piece works with the others. It inspired me to find a way to shop more items in a collection than I ever have before.  In fact, 5 awesome pieces came home with me yesterday. Is it possible to have more than one ‘favourite’?!

 

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I’m off to the Victorian Derby Day with my brother next weekend and the theme is black and white. The short jump across the ditch isn’t a big packing challenge, but I like to be organised. I’ll be away in Melbourne for two nights and three days. Stay tuned for the outfits I have picked out from this beautiful Chocolat summer range, mixed in with a few other faves. I know I’ll be able to wear and wear every piece, and like my old muse, Sindy, mix and match to my heart’s content!

You can buy Chocolat and Obi’s new collections online or in store at Magazine or Zebrano. So gorgeous. Every single item.

Wanna play?

 

pssst…. check out these bloggers…

Oh She Writes :: Taylor

Dressing Up :: Monique

This is Jolie :: Beth

This is Meagan Kerr :: Meagan

The Style High Club :: Nicky