Newmarket Ladies' Day Special: How could you win a podium place in Velvet's Style Awards?
You’re all set to enter the July Festival Style Awards. But what can you do to increase your chances of a podium place (and an amazing prize)?
If you’re wondering what qualifies me to share advice on race-day dressing, here it is: I’ve been judging best-dressed competitions at the races for six years now and, in that time, have clocked up considerable experience of what works (and what doesn’t). Plus I’ve been editing women’s magazines for more than a decade, which means I’ve worked with both big fashion brands and local indie boutiques and learned lots of style lessons along the way.
So, all that in mind, here are my race-day dos and don’ts.
DO: dress up. Opportunities to go all-out in hats and heels are few and far between. Newmarket’s July Festival is one such opportunity, so take it. Aim for elegance: if you’ve got great legs and want to show them off with a high hem, keep your neckline high, too; if you’re going for a plunging neck, stick to ladylike skirt-lengths, even trousers.
DON’T: be a slave to fashion. If it looks fabulous on the mannequin but doesn’t flatter you, forget it. It’s nice to give the trends a nod, yes, but not if the resulting outfit is a poor fit for your size, shape and style.
DO: build your outfit around something you love, whether it’s a colour, a print or a statement item, such as a hat or shoes. Think of this as a first piece of the jigsaw, to slot the other elements of your look around. Take it shopping with you, too, to make sure everything goes before you buy.
DON’T: wear anything uncomfortable. If your shoes pinch, your hat itches or your waistband’s digging in, it will take the edge off your day - and show in your face.
DO: wear a hat. Or fascinator. Or headband (very big this year: thank Prada and Kate Middleton). Headwear is key to the Ladies’ Day look. So many people say they can’t wear hats, but there really is a style to suit everyone. Make an appointment at a hat shop or millinery studio and try until you find something you love.
DON’T: forget about your smalls. Poorly chosen undies can ruin an otherwise flawless outfit. Consider T-shirt bras, invisible panties, even an old-lady slip, to keep what’s supposed to be hidden, hidden. Top tip: look at your rear view in the mirror. Or get a (very honest) friend to do it for you.
DO: give your shoes serious thought. Yes, you want to be comfortable; no, you don’t want to look like you’re going fell walking. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of outfits that look amazing from hat to hem, but fall short at the ankles. If you’re wearing tights, by the way, either opt for a toeless pair or wear enclosed-toe shoes: there’s nothing worse than netted flesh sticking out of a sandal.
DON’T: neglect your beauty prep. Any podium-worthy outfit will be accompanied by beautifully finished hair and skin. If you’ve got long locks, consider a neat up-do that won’t distract from your hat. Invest in a good primer and longwear eye makeup so, even if it’s a sweltering day, your face won’t fall.
DO: have fun and express yourself. If you love what you’re wearing, it shows - and the judges are more likely to love it, too.