9 Rules for What to Wear to a fashion event like Canberra’s #FASHFEST

Going to a fashion event such as Canberra’s FASHFEST or London Fashion Week can have us screaming out, “What will I wear!?” to the point of our faces turning a crimson hue… not a good look!

With my experience* I’ve seen loads of outfits; some fashion faux pas, yet others; stunning outfits worn by audience members catching more media attention than the designer collections on show.

I’ve put together some simple dress code rules of the runway for audience members… 

*(I’ve been an audience member at fashion events, organised them, choreographed shows, trained models to walk, walked at various shows myself, as well as attended catwalk events as backstage and end-of-runway media…)


Don’t just wear what you would wear to the school drop-off or to work, unless you are actually working at the event.

Media are best to stay practical; for example, photographers need to wear comfortable footwear as they will be carrying equipment and walking around – but can still make an effort: Wear a fabulous jacket, or this season’s bright lip colour, or a statement piece of jewellery.

Avoid average daywear! But by the same token, avoid going to the extreme – it screams try-hard and is a signal for the ‘fashion police!’

It is super obvious that you want to get noticed if you wear a full-on ball gown or tuxedo.

Unless the invite specifies the event is ‘black tie’ or mentions a dress code or red carpet attire – then think funky-elegant fashion as opposed to a cliche prom look, wedding attire or christening wear.

For those who do want attention – good or bad – then maybe choose a revealing outfit, or a controversial one or even a hideous one (not that I’m advising this – but your call!)


Be daring but don’t experiment too much, because you don’t want to spend the whole time feeling out of your comfort zone – you want to have fun.

As an audience member at a show you certainly want to look the fashionista that you are, but you still have to reflect who you are as a person too – if you are an eccentric, then show it, or if you’re conservative by nature you’re likely to be with your clothes choices too.

Most people do generally use their clothes as an extension of character – so it’s important your outfit aligns with your personality or at least your mood on that day.

This means to be inspired by runway shows and seasonal trends, but only choose the aspects that you like; for example, if you hate the colour purple but it’s all over the catwalks then leave it out and don’t wear it, you obviously don’t like it for a reason – but, if you’ve never considered wearing purple until you saw it grace the runways then try it – why not? That is a good type of daring. It’s adventurous, and fun!

Vibes at fashfest

Some bright and bold guests at FASHFEST 2018

Current trends, (New York Fashion Week), include bright block colours paired with other bright block colours or wearing head-to-toe in the same colour with a few variations in the shade – still bright. Try a splash of colour with plain white or black as an option.

Charly Thorn’s Cuban-inspired collection shown last night at FASHFEST had lots of bold colours with flimsy fabrics and some key signature prints.

Some runways have seen pastels re-emerge, with sheer floating fabrics*… which are very pretty, but not always practical.

And not all outfits in season, will be practical for a guest at a runway show – remember you could be seated and so be aware of how your outfit looks when you sit down. Bare mid-drifts are not a great idea, neither are outfits with layers of fabric at the back, because these can pose a problem when seated.

Consider the people behind you; hats are not a great choice for front row guests – or more to the point for the guests behind the hat.

Non-matching patterns look bold and brilliant on the runway – but not every person is brave enough to do this in the real world – even at a fashion event… so pick key accessories instead of going head-to-toe in various patterns. I love similar colours with different patterns, so try stripes with checks or even bold floral – similar shades.

Oversized bright-coloured macs, cut-out patterned lace and tulle*, tailored loose suits and deep v-necks have been seen on the runways internationally. And these are all elements that you can include subtly or as statements to your outfit for FASHFEST in December 2018.

*Megan Cannings Designs and Hajar Gala Couture both had touches of current trends running through their bridal and evening wear, showcased at FASHFEST at NGA in Canberra.


Opt to complement a classic outfit with some really funky accessories. You can see some of the gorgeous guests at FASHFEST lining the National Gallery of Australia’s pop-up runway with vibrant colours and fabulous fabrics.

My favourites are the pops of colour, and the strong retro patterns; asymmetric repeat patterns, and large checkered patterns on tailored cuts, as well as the statement boots and smooth hairstyles.

FashFest Audience

Love this bubblegum pink two-piece suit worn by front row VIP guest, paired with gold killer-heeled boots

Choose something you love from your wardrobe – maybe you’ve not worn it for a while or you only save it for special occasions; and then treat yourself to new accessories – perhaps a bow tie, earrings, belt, boots or a pre-show blow-dry at your regular hair salon.

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.” Coco Chanel

Be mindful not to over accessorise your classic look – take a leaf from Chanel’s style book – and remove the last accessory you added before going to a fashion show.


Don’t try to outshine the runway designs. Yes, you want to look good and you want to be on trend, but this is not a good motivation. You are there to enjoy, to be inspired and to soak up the cultural atmosphere – not to show off!

I have known people to peruse the designers’ websites and collections on the lead up to a show and then wear something based on previous collections… this can look try-hard and dated, especially as designers are changing every season, even those with signature styles.

You can however, get away with wearing a vintage style from a designer’s collection; for example, I used to model regularly for the iconic label Vivienne Westwood – and if you were lucky enough to watch one of her shows, it would be acceptable to don a vintage Westwood dress, the same with Versace and classic brands that have been around for a long time.

fashfest designs 2018

Designers showcasing at FASHFEST* October 2018 were Charly Thorn Designs, Megan Cannings Designs and Hajar Gala Couture

*Models include Devojka 

Rule #5 STYLE IT

Style will always override fashion trends – if everyone in the room has chosen something inspired by the latest runway collection, but you stay true to style then this can work.

Style is timeless, and fashion is always changing.

It is what you do with it that counts remember. So if you have to go to a show straight from work, then adjust certain elements to the outfit with style.

Wear a plain or classic outfit to work and carry statement accessories for a quick change prior to the show.

Wear styles that suit your body shape, personality, and mood.

And choose colours that suit your character, skin tone and hair colour.

Rule #6 HOT N COLD

Consider the weather on the day of the show you head to – last night was a beautiful warm evening in Canberra for FASHFEST, but I’ve been to shows in the rain and that is rarely a good look…

Get yourself a trendy oversized mac or a classic stunning umbrella to ensure you turn up looking dry and ready to watch the show.

If it is raining, or it is hot, consider a sleeked back hair do, perhaps waterproof mascara and fabrics that don’t stain or ruin easily with water.

Some fabrics can stick to you more than others – so on humid days, consider a looser outfit or quick-drying fabrics or patterns that conceal perspiration.

Rule #7 BE YOU!

Jordan Martin Fashfest 2018

Jordan Martin FASHFEST 2018

Be yourself – This is the most important element to any look… you are the Unique Selling Point of the brand that is you.

Wherever you go and who ever you speak with, how you present yourself is key – but it is vital to present YOURSELF as you percieve yourself and in an authentic way.

Many people believe that imitation is the biggest form of flattery – but it’s best to be inspired, instead of being influenced.


I opted for a black thick satin dress (my sister bought me – so a classic staple – not a new daring piece); with an undone finish and defined seams; a retro feel with slightly bell sleeves and a seventies-vibe deep plunged front (from & Other Stories).

The peachy-beige cape jacket is from Lavish Alice.

Without the accessories the outfit is very plain – My day style is plain – so I felt in my comfort zone.

I added a skinny black leather belt to nip the dress in at the waist and to be functional – as you can’t wear a bra with this dress, the belt means less movement of fabric and no accidental displays of flesh.

Exhibit iPhone Blog Graphic

Comfortable, cool and myself at #FASHFEST OCTOBER

The pendant is silver with semi-precious stones and was gifted from my dear friend and former client, artist Lorna Wadsworth, and the delicate gold plated chain with my initial on is from accessorize gifted from another dear friend and former client Vicki Lord… (I know I’m lucky ;o)).

My stud earrings are from Coach in Houston, Texas.

And my shoes (surprisingly comfortable because they are platforms with a medium gradient) are the statement piece here – with various fabrics, textures and colours – these created a talking point at the event, as did my cute gold bag from Versace Jeans.


No going to #FASHFEST in your active wear! FULL STOP. EXCLAMATION MARK…

Because if you do there will be a QUESTION MARK even if you do it for comedic value or because you are heading to the gym.

Note: Prom, wedding or workwear are far more suitable than activewear – so steer clear…. but watch this video for a giggle!

Rule #9 MODELS

If you are a model, you will be arriving before anyone else – so the best thing you can do is get a great night of sleep, drink plenty of water and be prepared in all other areas.

No make-up is a must; just a clean and moisturised face – if you don’t usually like leaving the house without make-up on then wear a stunning oversized pair of sunglasses… but ensure they don’t mark the bridge of your nose.

no makeup.jpg

*Argh* No Makeup for Models before the show!

Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that do not leave marks on the skin in case you are wearing strapless clothing or short clothing – so no tight socks that will indent your ankles or legs.

If female models wish to wear a bra ensure it is smooth and strapless.

Outfits needs to remain as plain as possible for models; as like the girls who walked at the National Gallery of Australia last night, models are blank canvases before they are adorned by the make-up artists, hairstylists and clothes designers.

If you are hanging around for the after show party, it is likely that the designers would want you to wear their garments.

Carry a very simple, non-branded, well-fitting little black dress and killer statement heels and earrings… this look will always be a winner for models in the audience.

For guy models, choose a well-fitting top and jeans or trousers with a statement belt or cool shoes. Simple is safe, as you have to be mindful that your job as a model is also representing the brand you are modelling, so don’t wear a competitor’s label.

*Aspiring models and models in development visit this page to find out more about #models101workshop 

To stay up to date with all things FASHFEST check out the official website http://www.fashfest.com.au

2 thoughts on “9 Rules for What to Wear to a fashion event like Canberra’s #FASHFEST

  1. Fucking ridiculous article, the “fashion industry” is awash with mediocre, unoriginal plagiarists who merely copy the creative “next thing” style from the street or steel from the past hoping the mainstream audience won’t notice. Bloggers and audience members exist on their coat tails. Vive le difference

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment! R… And 100% value your words and thoughts. Fashion evolves, revolves, and involves… Ultimately, everything is always up to the individual… sometimes individuals become collectives and trends occur… there is always a little new in the old or reused, re-done, re-cycled. Interesting topic though. Thanks again.


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