The go-to guide on Racing head wear for Coffs Cup

Fashion trends for 2017


As an advocate racegoer and previous partner of a prominent racehorse owner in early days, Sharon Lenton needed a different headpiece every weekend especially over the carnivals (or when her horses were racing). At the time, there was little that excited her, except for what she found in David Jones, Myers and of course Neil Grigg). As a result, Sharon made a plan to create a business that gave milliners from around Australia the chance to showcase and sell their amazing pieces through her businesses, Thoroughbred Events Australia, and Zac & Tallulah.

We caught up with Sharon to talk style tips and trends in racing head wear and fashions for the Coffs Cup.


What trends are you seeing in millinery this year? 

Trends – that is a very interesting word for me.

What is “on trend”: We are still seeing all kinds of crowns, and the turban has been a huge hit. Large hats are back in fashion (hooray – as I am a huge lover of large hats).

For me, I am far from liking “trends” as I love seeing girls have their individual look and I’m in such admiration when I see a headpiece design that I have never seen before. Unfortunately, finding something I have not seen is becoming harder and harder, but when I do, my heart misses a beat.  I do love millinery!!!!

Comparing hats from last year to this year – last year the PERCHER and BOATER were the “IT” piece. This year we have seen the CROWN in all versions being the most popular piece. Clusters of flowers are always beautiful and are still on show. I don’t think flowers ever go out of fashion as they always soften a woman’s face adding such beauty to an outfit.

Above, millinery this year. Credit: Thoroughbred Events Australia


What’s in and what’s out for millinery this year?

In fashion for autumn (and we will see it again through spring) – leather flowers, leather crowns and more lace. I think the large hats will continue right through to spring.

What is out – hard question as nothing really goes out. I just put things away and bring them out remodelled in a few years’ time. But I guess if I had to say something, I would put away the little crown or triple the crown in size. A little flower on a headband, I would say, add about ten more to it. This season is BIGGER for everything.

Above, the crown with leather flowers (trans-seasonal). Credit: Thoroughbred Events Australia


What are the top tips you can give to someone looking for a headpiece?

My top tip is – go and try on as many headpieces as you can and ask for advice.

While I know buying off the internet is convenient, it doesn’t often go as planned. I have been contacted so many times by girls who have bought a headpiece that does not suit them and they are so disappointed. The first thing I do is find a milliner I know they will feel comfortable with. Having a relationship with your Milliner is vital. They will get to know you, what you like, what piece would complement your face, what will make you stand out in a crowd (if that is what you are looking for) and find that piece that compliments your outfit.


What should we look for in millinery to make sure it is complimenting the dress?

Firstly, the thing is to ask yourself, what is it you want to make your statement – dress or headpiece? If you have a dress and it is quite noisy or busy, then compliment this dress with simple lines in the headpiece and pick up a colour or two from the dress. If you have a plain dress, then go wild on your headpiece.  Make the head piece your statement.  If in doubt, no girl will ever go wrong wearing a large flower clustered headpiece with a simple dress.

Above, Sharon’s favourite outfit for Autumn 2017. Credit: Thoroughbred Events Australia


Are there any rules when it comes to millinery?

Yes, there are absolutely rules for millinery – don’t get the fabric wrong for the season.

  • For Autumn/Winter (Mar – Aug) you are looking at felt, leather, feathers, heavy fabric (like tweed or wool). Flowers should be felt or thicker fabric too.
  • For Spring/Summer (Sept – Feb) you should be in straw, sinamay, silk, lace. Leather can be worn all year round which is a good fabric to choose.
  • For Coffs Harbour Cup, consider wearing a trans-seasonal piece which means it is in fabric or leather. Jewels are all year round too. As this carnival falls at the end of winter, sometimes the weather has been hot and it seems ridiculous putting on a heavy felt hat.

 Credit: Thoroughbred Events Australia


Is there a trick to making your headpiece last and stay on all day?

Always carry some bobby pins and pin the ends in. Try to hide them as best you can. I am a big fan of always using two elastics and twist them – this gives a greater thickness and is much more secure.


Do you have any other racewear tips or advice?

  1. If you are entering Fashions on the Field, always read the rules and research the sponsors. If you want to win, you need to know what it is they are looking for.
  2. If you are not going in fashions on the field, just enjoy your day and wear what makes you feel the most fabulous in.
  3. Do not take your shoes off under any circumstance. Buy a pair of ballet flats and put them in your bag. There is nothing worse than a girl holding her shoes while barefoot especially if she has had far too much to drink.
  4. Most of all: HEMLINES DOWN – NECKLINES UP! Being a lady at the races is absolutely essential.

Thanks Sharon

Above, Sharon Lenton. Credit: Thoroughbred Events Australia


Thoroughbred Events Australia has a website and Facebook page.

Sharon also has an Instagram page and a blog and recently started “Winning Wednesday” which showcases owners and ownership in the racing industry.


Stuck on where to buy your raceday outfit? Check out Park Beach Plaza and outfit combo’s here!